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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Old bras get new life on the red carpet
QVC star and intimate apparel designer Kathleen Kirkwood wants to recycle your old 36Bs. Source: Mother Nature Network, 8/13/15

EPA Proposes New Measures to Cut Methane Emissions from the Oil and Gas Sector
Continuing the Obama Administration's commitment to take action on climate change and protect public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing proposed standards that would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the oil and natural gas industry. The proposal is a part of the Administration's strategy under President Obama's Climate Action Plan to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Source: U.S. EPA, 8/18/15

Monday, August 17, 2015
Speedo dives into closed-loop swimwear
Scraps from factory floor are recycled into new swimsuits under a new closed-loop initiative from Speedo and Aquafil. Source: GreenBiz, 8/17/15

Thursday, August 13, 2015
EPA Releases TSCA Assessment Documents for Flame Retardant Chemicals
EPA is announcing the availability and opening of a 60-day public comment period for three Problem Formulations and Initial Assessments, and a 120-day comment period for a Data Needs Assessment document for one of the clusters. These assessments were conducted under the Toxic Substances Control Plan (TSCA) Work Plan assessment effort. Source: Environmental News Bits, 8/13/15

Thinking in circles, cycles and loops
Nora Goldstein, editor of Biocycle, explains a new way to think about waste. Source: GreenBiz. 8/13/15

Sediment dwelling creatures at risk from nanoparticles in common household products
Researchers from the University of Exeter highlight the risk that engineered nanoparticles released from masonry paint on exterior facades, and consumer products such as zinc oxide cream, could have on aquatic creatures. Source: University of Exeter, 8/13/15

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Phone Book Industry Makes Environmental Advances, Still Needs Improvement in Sustainability
Is the telephone book -- once a common and useful tool in every household -- still around? Even in the digital era, the answer is yes. And in the past year, telephone directory publishers took steps to reduce the environmental impacts of their products. But they continue to fall short in key areas, according to a new report card published by the nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute (PSI). Source: Product Stewardship Institute, 8/12/15

Allegheny County, Pa., Emphasizes 'Green' Infrastructure in $2 Billion Stormwater Control Effort
Greening the county's antiquated sewer network can be accomplished through a series of regionally focused, strategically placed solutions, such as green roofs, permeable pavement and stormwater planters. Source: FutureStructure, 8/5/15

Why Sustainability Ratings Matter
"The growing body of research linking strong sustainability performance with strong financial performance only improves the value proposition for sustainable business practices,' writes Allen L. White, a senior fellow at the Tellus Institute and founder of the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings. Source: MIT Sloan Management Review, 8/7/15

Energy Efficiency in the Clean Power Plan: Take One
Cassandra Kubes, an ACEEE Environmental Policy Research Analyst, reviewed the final rule and found some significant changes from the proposed version. Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), 8/12/15

Better estimates of worldwide mercury pollution
Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called "grasshopper effect" keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as legacy emissions that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury for decades.

Now an international team led by MIT researchers has conducted a new analysis that provides more accurate estimates of sources of mercury emissions around the world. The analysis pairs measured air concentrations of mercury with a global simulation to calculate the fraction of mercury that is either re-emitted or that originates from power plants and other anthropogenic activities. The result of this work, researchers say, could improve estimates of mercury pollution, and help refine pollution-control strategies around the world. Source: MIT, 8/12/15

What to do about the antidepressants, antibiotics and other drugs in our water
As drugs taint rivers and lakes, scientists search for solutions. Source: Ensia, 8/11/15

Reporting your company's carbon footprint can save $1.5 million a year
Businesses will go to great lengths to convince the markets that they are a safe investment. But it might come as a surprise that one of the best things a company can do to boost its investment credibility is voluntarily publish details of its environmental impact. Source: GreenBiz, 8/12/15

Perennial biofuel crops' water consumption similar to corn
A recent study from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and published in Environmental Research Letters looks at how efficiently "second generation" biofuel crops -- perennial, non-food crops such as switchgrass or native grasses -- use rainwater and how these crops affect overall water balance. Source: Michigan State University, 7/6/15

Tuesday, August 11, 2015
EPA moves to fix air pollution rule after Supreme Court loss
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to fix by this spring the problem that caused the Supreme Court to rule against its major air pollution regulation in July. The EPA told a lower court on Monday that it is formulating a plan to conduct cost-benefit analysis as part of a revision of its finding that the mercury rule is "appropriate and necessary." Source: The Hill, 8/10/15

IL: This Jewel has some interesting ways to bag your groceries
One week into Chicago's plastic bag ban, shoppers have noticed a few hiccups in the transition as major retailers have replaced the old lightweight plastic bags with thicker reusable ones, spurring confusion and complaints. Source: Chicago Tribune, 8/7/15

Ikea to sell only energy-saving LED lightbulbs
Halogen and compact fluorescent bulbs will no longer be sold worldwide from September by retailer, which says LED technology has reached a tipping point. Source: The Guardian, 8/10/15

Hospitals look for ways to cut water use during California drought
Hospitals are among the highest water users in communities, but have a lot of potential to help California fight its ongoing drought, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Source: Los Angeles Times, 8/6/15

10 questions to ask about wood and paper-based products
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute offer 10 key questions to consider when buying wood or paper-based products. Source: Treehugger, 8/4/15

The 5 Plastics That Nobody Should Be Using
Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes, the eco-entrepreneurs behind global recycling company TerraCycle, have a unique take on trash. Their new book, "Make Garbage Great", explores the history of human waste and presents some creative ideas to make less of it in the future. Here's what they have to say about plastic. Source: MindBodyGreen, 8/7/15

The trends spawning the next wave of sustainable business models
From the sharing economy to digitization, technological and cultural trends are changing the way we think about sustainability. Source: The Guardian, 8/11/15

How Can Cities Get Renters to Use Less Water?
California's drought demands an answer, but as homeownership rates drop, the question has implications for the whole country. Source: CityLab, 8/10/15

K-Cup killers? Hotel suppliers seek better single-serving coffee
As a large market for single-serving beverage products, hotels are seeking sustainability improvements to wasteful plastic products. Source: GreenBiz, 8/11/15

How Does a City Get to Zero Carbon Emissions?
Even before Obama released his rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, dozens of cities pledged to become carbon-free. But how they will achieve that isn't always known. Source: Governing, August 2015

Tracing conflict minerals proves elusive -- and expensive
The clock for corporates looking to get a handle on supply chain conflict minerals is starting to tick much louder. With just one year to go before stricter reporting is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, many companies are still struggling to trace their sources for metals such as gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin, according to an analysis of reports submitted for the most recent reporting period. Source:, 8/10/15

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