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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Monday, February 9, 2015
What you need to know about the new phone unlocking rules
Beginning February 11, carriers will be required to honor your unlock request so that you can take your phone to whatever other carrier you please. The carriers and the FCC have all offered up their own informative FAQ on the matter, but if you'd rather not trudge through all of that, here's a quick run-down on everything you need to know about unlocking your device. Source: Greenbot, 2/9/15

A Closer Look at the Flawed Studies Behind Policies Used to Promote 'Low-Carbon' Biofuels
Nearly all of the studies used to promote biofuels as climate-friendly alternatives to petroleum fuels are flawed and need to be redone, according to a University of Michigan researcher who reviewed more than 100 papers published over more than two decades. Source: University of Michigan Energy Institute, 2/5/15

Finelite takes an enlightened approach to reusable packaging
In the latest P2 Impact column, author Justin Lehrer points out that the green lighting company's bright ideas for innovations in recycling and reuse deliver awards, customer satisfaction and tangible cost savings. Source: GreenBiz, 2/5/15

Friday, February 6, 2015
How to start the new data collection conversation
New sustainability reporting requirements may catch some by surprise. Now's the time to ask new questions that get you more useful answers. Source: GreenBiz, 1/6/15

How to do business in a world running out of water
Respecting human rights to water should be embedded into operations, says new U.N. guidance. Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co. and Nestle are on board. Source: GreenBiz, 2/5/15

Environment as economic threat: How sustainability redefines risk
Disasters that knock factories offline, scarce resources and shifting social dynamics -- welcome to the daunting new world of sustainable business. Source: GreenBiz, 2/4/15

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
'Clicking Clean:' The Overlooked Opportunity and Scalable Benefits of Sustainable Web Design
According to a phenomenon known as Jevons Paradox, the increase in efficiency with which a resource is used tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of that resource's consumption. In other words, the easier it becomes to use something, the more said thing gets used. It happened with coal, it happened with automobiles, and now it's happening with the Internet; we are unwittingly tweeting and posting our way to a warmer planet. With sustainable web practices, however, the latter doesn't have to follow the same environmentally disastrous path as the two former. Source: Sustainable Brands, 2/4/15

These Companies Want to Make Your Smartphone Truly Smart
Mike Hower discusses modular phone designs (like the Puzzlephone, Phonebloks, and Project Ara), as well as Fairphone, which focuses on a more ethically manufactured product. Source: Sustainable Brands, 1/27/15

More big businesses push for stricter environmental regulations
For many companies, it's becoming increasingly clear that you cannot be successful in a society that fails. Source: The Guardian, 2/4/15

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Energizer Makes First Recycled AA Batteries
Energizer will begin selling AA batteries made partially from old recycled batteries, a small step towards decreasing the environmental impact of powering our gadgets. The batteries, called EcoAdvanced, will be the first from a major brand to contain recycled battery material--about 4%. And over their lifespan they'll contribute to 7% fewer greenhouse emissions than other disposable batteries, according to Energizer. They'll cost about $5 for a 4-pack, some 25% more than traditional high-performance batteries. Source: The Wall Street Journal, 2/3/15

Global supply chain still yawns at climate risks, CDP finds
Climate change warnings keep growing more dire, and the world's business leaders now even cite water crises and extreme weather as top economic risks. And yet the supply chains leading to many of the world's biggest companies reflect only middling attention to these issues. That's the conclusion of a new report by CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and Accenture Strategy, which was informed by responses from 3,396 supply chain companies that sell goods or services to 66 of the world's largest multinational corporations Source: GreenBiz, 1/29/15

Researchers find salmon semen can be used to extract rare earth elements from waste
A team of researchers affiliated with several academic/research facilities in Japan has found that dried salmon semen can be used to extract rare earth elements (REEs) from liquid ore waste. In their paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, the team describes how they came up with the idea, the process they used, and the prospects of using their technique in commercial applications. Source:, 1/16/15

Crystal light: New family of light-converting materials points to cheaper, more efficient solar power and LEDs
Engineers have shone new light on an emerging family of solar-absorbing materials that could clear the way for cheaper and more efficient solar panels and LEDs. The materials, called perovskites, are particularly good at absorbing visible light, but had never been thoroughly studied in their purest form: as perfect single crystals. Using a new technique, researchers grew large, pure perovskite crystals and studied how electrons move through the material as light is converted to electricity. Source: University of Toronto via Science Daily, 1/29/15

Monday, February 2, 2015
Sprint Smartphone Encore Challenge Invites Students to Find New Life for Old Mobile Devices
Sprint launched today its inaugural Smartphone Encore Challenge, in conjunction with Brightstar Corp. and HOBI International, as a call-to-action for students to find profitable and innovative ways to repurpose old smartphones or their components. The challenge will be facilitated by Net Impact, the leading nonprofit that empowers a new generation to work within and beyond business for a sustainable future. Source: Herald Online, 2/2/15

West Africa turns into dumping ground for e-waste
As measures by countries in East and Southern Africa to prevent the dumping of e-waste take effect, West Africa has become a destination for old computers, mobile devices and components. European Commission and U.N. studies show that West Africa is becoming a dumping site for e-waste from various parts of the world. Meanwhile, communication technology and services firm Ericsson says West Africa is becoming highly affected by e-waste, relative to other regions on the continent. The problem is compounded by the fact that most countries in Africa do not have e-waste recycling facilities. The lack of facilities results in careless disposal of electronic products. Ericsson is moving to address the issue, and last week partnered with mobile phone service provider MTN Benin to launch the first e-waste collection center and awareness drive in the West African country. Source: PC World, 1/30/15

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