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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Self-charging battery could put an end to your phone dying
Source: The Telegraph, 4/25/17

Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Process invented to make sustainable rubber, plastics
Synthetic rubber and plastics -- used for manufacturing tires, toys and myriad other products -- are produced from butadiene, a molecule traditionally made from petroleum or natural gas. But those humanmade materials could get a lot greener soon, thanks to a team of scientists that has invented a process to make butadiene from renewable sources. Source: University of Delaware via Science Daily, 4/24/17

Caterpillar found to eat shopping bags, suggesting biodegradable solution to plastic pollution
A common insect larva that eats beeswax has been found to break down chemical bonds in the plastic used for packaging and shopping bags at uniquely high speeds. Scientists say the discovery could lead to a biotechnological approach to the polyethylene waste that chokes oceans and landfills. Source: University of Cambridge, 4/24/17

Apple Forces Recyclers to Shred All iPhones and MacBooks
Apple released its Environmental Responsibility Report Wednesday, an annual grandstanding effort that the company uses to position itself as a progressive, environmentally friendly company. Behind the scenes, though, the company undermines attempts to prolong the lifespan of its products. Source: Motherboard, 4/20/17

Google Request Exacerbates South Carolina Water Wars
Google has requested 1.5 million gallons of groundwater per day to cool the servers at its Berkeley County facility, hoping to draw the water from the county's aquifer. The company already uses about 4 million gallons of surface water per day, writes the Post & Courier (via Mashable). Google has studied various options for cooling its servers and has found that pumping groundwater was the best solution.

The request comes at a time when a commercial boom in the area has led to companies (and residents) using water at a faster rate than the aquifers can replenish. Scientists are currently studying the area's water situation, attempting to determine how much water from the aquifers can be used before depleting supplies of groundwater. Source: Environmental Leader, 4/24/17

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Walmart's plan to lift a gigaton of carbon from its supply chain
Walmart is doubling down on its climate commitment. Today, the retail giant announced Project Gigaton, a goal to remove 1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from its supply chain by 2030, equivalent to taking more than 211 million passenger vehicles off the road for a year, the company said. Source: GreenBiz, 4/19/17

Target Vows to Use Its Power & Scale to See that All Packaging Is Recyclable
Target says it will use its "power and scale" as one of the country's largest retailers to advance the idea that all packaging will be recyclable one day, and to help consumers understand how and why recycling is so important. With that in mind, the retailer has joined the Material Recovery Facility of the Future, a collaborative committed to seeing that flexible packaging is recycled and that the recovery community captures value from it. The announcement is one of Target's five new sustainable packaging goals it released yesterday. Source: Environmental Leader, 4/19/17

Challenging Mercury Laws May Be Next On The President's Environmental Agenda
Now that the Trump administration has signaled it will try and rollback regulations tied carbon, methane and volatile organic compounds, it may soon turn its attention to mercury. Source: Environmental Leader, 4/20/17

How Some Governments and Nonprofits are Working to Reduce Food Waste
Cities want to reduce landfill waste, address hunger in their communities, and address climate change. Source: Waste360, 4/20/17

MSU dumps 1,250 gallons of ruined mayonnaise in anaerobic digester
After 500 individual 2.5 gallon containers of mayonnaise were compromised by freezing temperatures and unusable to the university, sustainability officers and MSU Food Stores worked together to divert all of the waste into energy to power on-campus buildings. Source: State News, 4/6/17

US companies rank miserably low on the UN's new corporate responsibility rankings
The SDG Commitment Report 100, to be released today (April 19) at UN headquarters in New York, is the first-ever analysis to use annual reports as the sole metric to assess corporate commitments to the UN's 17 sustainable development goals. Analysts argue that the corporate annual report, a legally-required document, is a higher--and better--standard to judge a company's commitment to sustainability than any voluntary corporate responsibility report. Source: Quartz, 4/19/17

A Green Infrastructure Guidebook for City Planners
This new online resource showcases how communities across the country have successfully mitigated the effects of extreme weather by relying on green infrastructure. Source: CityLab, 4/10/17

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Why B Corporations are at a crossroads
If the movement is to achieve its bold vision -- "that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world" -- then more publicly- traded, mainstream companies must commit to the label. Source: GreenBiz, 4/19/17

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Comment Periods Extended for Two Proposed Rules: Trichloroethylene (TCE) in Vapor Degreasing and Methylene Chloride and N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in Paint and Coating Removal
The public comment periods for two proposed rules, one on trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasing and one on methylene chloride and N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in paint and coating removal, will be extended in response to stakeholder requests for more time to comment on the proposals. Comments must be received through in dockets EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0387 or EPA-HQ-OPPT-2016-0231 on or before May 19, 2017. Source: U.S. EPA, 4/18/17

Nitrogen Pollution: An Emerging Focus of Campus Sustainability Efforts
Many colleges and universities are working to transition toward sustainability in their academic programs, operations and engagement with communities. A major emphasis of their efforts has been reducing the environmental harms associated with campus operations. Typical initiatives include reducing emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases; reducing consumption of energy, water and other resources; building 'green' buildings; purchasing ecologically and socially preferable food and other products; and reducing waste generation and disposal in landfills.

While many of these initiatives can and do reduce nitrogen pollution, this has not been a significant or deliberate focus of college and university sustainability programs. That may be changing. Source: Huffington Post, 4/17/17

Other Environmental News

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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