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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
A business prescription for reducing toxic chemical use
Amidst the conversation about the need for reduced use of toxic chemicals and greater investment in "greener" chemistries for products, industrial processes and supply chains, a core question is "What's the business case?" or sometimes simply, "What's in it for me?" A new compilation of case studies by the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) offers some answers. Source: GreenBiz, 10/18/17

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Amazon, Microsoft and Google get low grades on recycling policy from Greenpeace
In a report from Greenpeace, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung all received low grades in the area of resource consumption. Fairphone received the highest grade, followed by Dell, HP, Apple and Lenovo. The organization also released a detailed report card, broken down into categories and sub-categories, explaining how it assigned rankings. Source: Waste Dive, 10/17/17

IKEA signs circular economy deal
IKEA Finland has signed a deal with natural gas company Gasum to use food waste from its Finnish stores to produce biogas. Gasum gas stations will be built at Finnish branches of IKEA as part of the agreement, with the first one due to be in place at IKEA Espoo before the end of the year. Source: Innovators Magazine, 10/11/17

Evaporation could offer renewable energy
Natural evaporation could provide most of the electricity used by the US and also save about one fifth of the water it uses, scientists believe. Source: Climate News Network, 10/13/17

Cocktail tests on toxic waste called for
Surprisingly low concentrations of toxic chemicals -- from fungicides to antidepressants -- can change the way some aquatic creatures swim and feed, according to new research. In addition, depending on the cocktail of toxins they can produce unexpected results. Source: Science Daily, 10/16/17

Over Half a Trillion Soybeans Later, Ford Marks 10-Year Anniversary of Bio-based Foam
It has been 10 years since Ford Motor Company rolled out the 2008 Mustang with seats comprised of soy-based foam. Since then, the automaker says it has installed this bio-based form in at least 18.5 million cars that have rolled off the company's assembly lines. Source: Triple Pundit, 10/16/17

Exposure to environmental chemicals is an important risk factor for breast cancer
Exposure to environmental chemicals, especially early in life, is an important contributing factor in the development of breast cancer, according to the most comprehensive review of human studies to date. The findings could help inform prevention strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of the disease, as rates continue to increase worldwide. Source: Silent Spring Institute, 10/10/17

Wheat straw waste could be basis for greener chemicals
The straw leftover from harvested wheat could be turned into bio-based chemicals that offer high greenhouse gas savings and do not compete with food supplies or damage ecosystems. Source: Horizon, 10/10/17

Cities Should Think About Trees As Public Health Infrastructure
Planting trees is an incredibly cheap and simple way to improve the well-being of people in a city. A novel idea: Public health institutions should be financing urban greenery to support well-being and air quality. Source: Fast Company, 10/2/17

Friday, October 13, 2017
In Northern Minnesota, Two Economies Square Off: Mining vs. Wilderness
Proposed mines near the Boundary Waters have become the latest front in the fight over who gets to profit from America's natural resources. Source: New York Times Magazine, 10/12/17

California identifies 'priority' packaging for mandatory policy
Film, expanded polystyrene and pouches are among the materials and products California officials say could be subject to mandatory packaging management rules. Source: Plastics Recycling Update, 10/11/17

Report identifies 6 applications for organic waste in construction
The consulting firm Arup released a report on Oct. 11 detailing how organic waste could be used in construction projects to further "close the loop" and develop a more circular economy. The report mentions, for example, using potato peels as a fire-resistant insulating material and sound dampener. Source: Waste Dive, 10/12/17

The School Synthetic-Turf Wars
Towns are weighing the practicality of artificial fields against the potential health risks for the kids who play on them. Source: The Atlantic, 10/12/17

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Apple made 2 simple changes to iPhone packaging that drastically cut the amount of plastic headed to the landfill
Subtle changes in recent Apple packaging has significantly reduced the amount of plastic that ends up in the trash -- and most iPhone buyers probably didn't even notice. Apple was able to redesign iPhone 7 packaging to use 84% less plastic, the company revealed in a new report on its forestry operations. Source: Business Insider, 10/10/17

Winter Is Coming. What If Roads And Runways Could De-Ice Themselves?
Researchers at various universities are working on surfaces that can de-ice themselves, so salt or de-icing chemicals don't have to be used on roads and other paved surfaces in the winter. The Federal Aviation Administration supports this work because keeping runways clear is a big problem for airports in cold places. Source: NPR, 10/1/17

What LEED Did for Buildings, Sustainable SITES Will Do for Landscapes -- and Not a Moment Too Soon
At the forefront of this movement toward "greening" our landscapes is the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES), a program based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment and can be planned, designed, developed, and maintained to avoid, mitigate, and even reverse the detrimental impacts of urbanization and development. Source: Retrofit, 7/17/17

Largest Michigan Solar Park Begins Commercial Operation
The 200,000-panel array broke ground in 2016 and is spread across more than 250 acres. The facility is estimated to produce sufficient clean energy to power 11,000 homes. Source: Commercial Property Executive, 10/10/17

Instead Of Throwing Out This Plastic Wrapper, You Eat It
Evoware is made from seaweed--and if you don't feel like eating it, it will biodegrade just fine. Source: Fast Company, 10/6/17

Know your cement, get greener concrete
An international team of scientists has created a new database of molecular dynamics models that simulate the properties of cement in all its varieties. It's intended to help fine-tune this component of concrete and curtail emissions in its manufacturing process. Source:, 10/9/17

What does it look like to embed sustainability across an organization?
If a company is committed to integrating sustainability into its operations, it cannot do so effectively just by assigning the responsibility to a chief sustainability officer or comparable position. Source: GreenBiz, 10/10/17

What Can Cities Do to Go "Blue"?
In a number of projects and proposals, architects and urban planners are working with water instead of against it. Source: Smithsonian Magazine, 10/2/17

EPA Launches Smart Sectors Program
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced the launch of Smart Sectors, a partnership program between the Agency and regulated sectors focused on achieving better environmental outcomes. A sector-based, collaborative approach provides a significant opportunity for EPA to consider more forward-thinking ways to protect the environment.

EPA has initially identified the following sectors to work with: aerospace; agriculture; automotive; cement and concrete; chemical manufacturing; construction; electronics and technology; forestry and paper products; iron and steel; mining; oil and gas; ports and marine; and utilities and power generation. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/3/17

Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Creative Distillers Tackle Food Waste, Redefining 'Getting Trashed'
Distillers like Misadventure Vodka and Ventura Spirits are getting creative when it comes to reducing food waste. Source: NPR, 10/3/17

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