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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Cool Planet: can biochar fertilize soil and help fight climate change?
Although market information and long-term impacts remain unknown, a biofuel byproduct can store carbon and enhance soil quality -- and its market is growing despite higher costs. Source: The Guardian, 9/2/14

Report recognizes importance of groundwater for human health, the environment and economy
An annual report by the Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council highlights the critical role groundwater plays in human health, the environment and economy and supports additional research and cooperation to understand how best to manage the precious resource. Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 9/2/14

Friday, August 29, 2014
Small businesses face too many barriers to increasing energy efficiency
Energy companies and the government need to roll out smart meters and provide support to struggling SMEs. Source: The Guardian, 8/29/14

Science and sustainability goals: what researchers want businesses to know
If companies are to help reach key climate targets and keep the world a viable place to do business, executives need to take a broader view -- and pay attention to the latest science Source: The Guardian, 8/29/14

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Kenya Recycles E-Waste From Around The World, Keeping Pollutants Out Of Landfills
MACHAKOS, Kenya (AP) -- In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some of the estimated 50 million metric tons of hazardous electronic-waste the world generated last year. Source: Associated Press via Huff Post Green, 8/22/14

How one Texas electronics recycling facility tries to beat the heat
Step out onto the massive processing floor at ECS Refining in Mesquite, Texas, and the first thing you notice is the air, which on an August morning feels like 100-degree soup. It's not exactly the ideal environment for manually dismantling e-scrap for 10 hours. ECS managers say many potential employees don't make it through the initial three weeks of training, but they note those that can handle the rigors of CRT de-manufacturing and other tasks are actually able to thrive at the Dallas-area facility that spans 250,000-square-feet. A number of unique efforts made by the company help workers weather the conditions in a facility so large that air conditioning is not an economic or effective option. Source: Resource Recycling, 8/28/14

How the zero-waste economy benefits everyone
Welcome to the emerging world of the circular economy. Faced with rising prices for energy and raw materials, along with pressures from environmentalists and regulators who have passed "extended producer responsibility laws" in Europe and some U.S. states, forward-thinking companies are finding ways to take back, reuse, refurbish or recycle all kinds of things that otherwise would be thrown away. In contrast to the traditional "take-make-dispose" linear economy, which depletes resources, a circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. Inspired by nature, a circular economy aspires not merely to limit waste but to eliminate the very idea of waste: Everything, at the end of its life, should be made into something else, just as in the natural world, one species' waste is another's food. Source:, 8/28/14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Mars: To transform raw materials supply, we must work together
Creating sustainable supply of key ingredients is not an area for competition, says the confectioner's sustainability director, Kevin Rabinovitch. Source: GreenBiz, 8/26/14

How She Leads: Cindy Ortega, MGM Resorts
Her financial background wins support, but her grassroots employee efforts for energy efficiency and water conservation deliver results. Source: GreenBiz, 8/26/14

Five sustainable boondoggles: greenwashing all the way to the bank
From SeaWorld"s "Cup That Cares" to an underground beer fridge -- these products are touting green creds that may not exist. Source: The Guardian, 8/25/14

Ioxus, Maxwell, Win Inertia bet on ultracapacitors to store energy
While batteries still generate more headlines, the role of ultracapacitors in energy storage and efficiency applications moved toward center stage this summer with high-profile transportation projects for two notable players, Ioxus and Maxwell Technologies. Source:, 8/20/14

Monday, August 25, 2014
Questionable additive okay for toothpaste but not hand soap?
Starting in 2017, the state of Minnesota will ban the use of an antibacterial chemical in consumer products. Triclosan has been found in the waters and fish of the Great Lakes, and a number of health organizations in Canada are urging their government to ban the chemical as well. Recently Bloomberg looked at the process of how triclosan was considered for use in some brands of toothpaste. Current State's Melissa Benmark speaks with article's author, Tiffany Kary, to learn more about the potential dangers of triclosan. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 8/24/14

Saving Money Is No. 1 Sustainability Driver
Saving money is the no. 1 reason executives give for moving towards more environmentally sustainable business practices, according to a Grant Thornton report. Source: Envrionmental Leader, 8/25/14

How business can keep clean water flowing
Private investments productively and profitably can be diverted toward improving agricultural and urban watersheds, says TNC. Source: GreenBiz, 8/25/14

Finding the Money for Water Infrastructure
A new federal loan program, patterned after a successful one for transportation, has a lot of potential for badly needed water projects. Source: Governing, 7/21/14

Study: Cutting emissions pays for itself
Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution. But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? MIT researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big -- in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation. Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 8/24/14

Chromium-Free Coatings Technology Nets National Innovation Award
A chromium-free paint developed through research at North Dakota State University, Fargo, and licensed to Elinor Specialty Coatings, Inc., is a 2014 TechConnect National Innovation Awardee. Elinor licensed the technology through the NDSU Research Foundation, and developed Aluma45 MgRP, a chromium-free magnesium-rich primer for use on aluminum-alloys and composites in ship, automotive and construction materials manufacturing. Aluma45 can be used directly on bare metal, eliminating chromium-based pre-treatments, which reduces weight, manufacturing time and costs, while eliminating toxic chromium coating procedures and disposal. Source: North Dakota State University, 8/22/14

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