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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
A Biodegradable Computer Chip That Performs Surprisingly Well
Biodegradable, wood-based computer chips can perform just as well as chips commonly used for wireless communication, according to new research. The inventors argue that the new chips could help address the global problem of rapidly accumulating electronic waste, some of which contains potentially toxic materials. The results also show that a transparent, wood-derived material called nanocellulose paper is an attractive alternative to plastic as a surface for flexible electronics. Source: MIT Technology Review, 7/14/15

Startup Uses Climate-Changing Methane to Make Eco-Friendly Plastic
A small Costa Mesa, Calif., company has lined up contracts with major corporations to supply the plastic for packaging, containers and chairs from potent methane that would've instead seeped into the atmosphere. Source: FutureStructure, 7/14/15

Bloomington, Ill., Power Deal to Emphasize Renewable Sources
The city of Bloomington, Ill., has decided to accept $100,000 a year less from the community's electricity provider in exchange for stressing renewable energy sources. Source: FutureStructure, 7/14/15

Rauner signs electronics recycling bill into law
A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner, allowing Will County officials to breathe a sigh relief -- for now. Source: Joliet Herald-News, 7/14/15

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
NC bill could eliminate e-waste manufacturer fees
A North Carolina bill that passed the state senate could remove electronics manufacturers' responsibility to fund the recycling of electronics. If it becomes law, HB 765 would repeal manufacturers' recycling fee requirements for discarded computer equipment and televisions, which totaled nearly $1 million in the last fiscal year. Even without manufacturer's requirements to help recycle e-waste, such waste still will be prohibited from landfills. Source: Waste Dive, 7/10/15

Removing Toxic Electronics From NYC's Waste
While the dangers of climate change attract more attention than other environmental issues, the problems of waste and toxics also persist--and are worthy of attention and action. One of the fastest growing environmental problems of the past decade has been the rapid increase in electronic waste. As society moves from the iPhone 2 to the iPhone 6, all of those old iPhones must go somewhere. Tablets, PCs, old TVs, DVD players, wireless routers and countless other devices are nearly always abandoned before their useful life is over. Many of these devices contain small quantities of toxic substances. When discarded, these toxics can enter our routine garbage pick up and disposal system. That system is not designed to handle hazardous waste. Here in New York City, efforts to regulate and manage electronic waste began during Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC program and continue under Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC. This past January, New York City and New York State instituted a ban on disposing electronic waste in regular garbage disposal. New Yorkers who toss their iPhone into the garbage could be subject to a $100 fine. In New York City, the Sanitation Department does not provide regularly scheduled pickup of electronic waste and since many apartment dwellers do not own autos, disposing larger pieces of electronic waste legally may be infeasible or at least inconvenient. In response, the city's Sanitation Department has developed a program that works with apartment buildings to collect electronic waste. Source: The Huffington Post, 7/13/15

Monday, July 13, 2015
Exit Interview: Keith Miller, 3M
Last week, Keith Miller spent his last day as a 3M employee after 37 years, most recently with the title of sustainability strategic advisor. 3M has been an iconic company in environmental circles, having issued its first environmental policy statement, adopted by its board, in 1975. That same year it started a then-revolutionary program called Pollution Prevention Pays, which encourages ideas and innovations that have saved billions of pounds of waste and emissions. 3P has been copied by many companies and has received numerous awards. During his final days at the company, Joel Makower caught up with Miller to talk about his career path and the sustainability journey of his company. Source: GreenBiz, 7/7/15

University of Arizona Food Study: Shop More, Waste Less
University of Arizona researchers investigating how consumers make decisions about food consumption and shopping have found that they actually waste food because they bulk-buy too often. Source: University of Arizona, 5/29/15

Thursday, July 9, 2015
Public - Private Partnership Launches New AmeriCorps Program to Help Communities Build Resilience
Building on the President's Climate Action Plan, today the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Rockefeller Foundation, and Cities of Service, announced a new commitment to launch a Resilience AmeriCorps pilot program. Source: U.S. EPA, 7/9/15

How Can We Make People Care About Climate Change?
Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes has studied why so many people have remained unconcerned about climate change. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, he talks about the psychological barriers to public action on climate and how to overcome them. Source: Yale Environment360, 7/9/15

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Not-for-profit Grocery Store Makes Wholesome Food Accessible to All
As Whole Foods get slammed in the press for overcharging customers, a not-for-profit grocery store is modeling a different way of selling food. Daily Table in Dorchester, Massachusetts collects excess food from a network of growers, supermarkets, manufacturers and suppliers, and offers it at steep discounts to shoppers. Source: Shareable, 7/8/15

Power Your Car With a Biofuel Made From Beer
"Brewtroleum" is reportedly the first-ever fuel produced from used yeast. Source: CityLab, 7/8/15

Nine ways to overcome barriers to sustainable business
From competition to communication, there are numerous challenges to sustainable business. Here's what the experts say about overcoming them. Source: The Guardian, 7/8/15

Recycling Industry Created Its Own Mess
Adam Minter writes, "The recycling industry likes to imply that the American public, and its allegedly lax recycling habits, bear responsibility for its sinking fortunes. But before reaching for their wallets, Americans ought to scrutinize why exactly recycling companies' promises of a low-cost green future didn't pan out. The real turning point wasn't a decline in Americans' interest in recycling, but a gradual shift in what Americans started throwing away -- one that many recycling companies could have, but failed to, prepare for." Source: Bloomberg Views, 7/7/15

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