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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, October 30, 2014
EPA funds student bioenergy projects under P3 program
The U.S. EPA recently awarded funding to 42 student teams to pursue projects that deliver sustainable, alternative approaches to address environmental problems as part of its People, Prosperity and Plant (P3) program. Several of selected teams' projects focus on bioenergy. Each team is eligible to receive up to $15,000. Source: Biomass Magazine, 10/23/14

To scale sustainable agriculture, work from the ground up
What does "conventional agriculture" mean? What about "sustainable"? Now, try putting these two concepts in one sentence and exacting meaning from it. Experts in farming and sustainability gave it their best effort in a conversation moderated Tuesday at VERGE SF 2014 by Jonathan Kaplan, director of the NRDC's food and agriculture program. Source: GreenBiz, 10/29/14

E-waste Trading Platform Woos 'Ethical' Businesses
When it comes to disposing of electronic waste such as computers, televisions and other gadgets responsibly, there are two big certification programs that can help guide a company's selection of disposal partner. Their oversight is critical for controlling where discarded technology winds up and ensuring that certain toxic components don't find their way into landfills, where they can foul up groundwater supplies and otherwise endanger human health -- especially in rural locations in China and India. Source: Forbes, 10/26/14

The Case for a Climate Goal Other Than Two Degrees Celsius
Scientists and climate negotiators have largely agreed that limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius is an important goal. But political scientist David Victor disagrees, arguing that the benchmark is too simplistic and should be abandoned in favor of other indicators. Source: Yale Environment360, 10/8/14

Innovations in Energy Storage Provide Boost for Renewables
Because utilities can't control when the sun shines or the wind blows, it has been difficult to fully incorporate solar and wind power into the electricity grid. But new technologies designed to store the energy produced by these clean power sources could soon be changing that. Source: Yale Environment360, 10/27/14

Why are major beverage companies refusing to use recycled cans?
Recycling aluminum cans is cheap and it retains the containers' quality. So why won't Coke, Pepsi or Budweiser use them? Source: The Guardian, 10/30/14

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Working together, EHS systems and CSR rocket a company to success
The EHS system is a catalyst for transformation. Sophisticated EHS software platforms can collect and parse Big Data, allowing compliance managers to work efficiently while contributing to their company's knowledge pool. Analytics captured for risk-management purposes can improve performance and even support CSR programs and sustainability reporting. Source: GreenBiz, 10/22/14

9 ways sustainability drives profit
Today most executives recognize that sustainability must be integrated into their organization's core strategy -- not to say that they necessarily understand why. In fact, too many are still content wearing some kind of sustainability PR badge just because the "About Us" section of their website gives sustainability a one-paragraph mention. For their sake and ours, here are nine reasons why all of us might want to redefine how we approach sustainability. Source: GreenBiz, 10/23/14

EPA Provides Additional Information on Clean Power Plan
As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's extensive outreach since issuing the proposed Clean Power Plan, EPA is making additional information and ideas available for public comment in a notice of data availability (NODA). At the same time, EPA is following through on its commitment made in June to propose goals to reduce carbon pollution in areas of Indian Country and U.S. Territories where fossil-fuel power plants are located. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/28/14

When it comes to food packaging, what we don't know could hurt us
Recent analyses raise disturbing questions about the health and environmental effects of the stuff that encases our edibles. Source: Ensia, 10/13/14

Monday, October 27, 2014
Inside Paul Hawken's audacious plan to 'drawdown' climate change
Can a book be the salvation to the global climate challenge? Source: GreenBiz, 10/22/14

Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you've never heard of
In 2011, an ecologist released an alarming study showing that tiny clothing fibers could be the biggest source of plastic in our oceans. The bigger problem? No one wanted to hear it. Source: The Guardian, 10/27/14

Transforming Agbogbloshie: From Toxic E-Waste Dump Into Model Recycling Center
On October 9, Agbogbloshie, Ghana -- one of the world's largest e-waste dumpsites -- got something new. The sense of excitement grew when residents saw a group of about a dozen men carrying a towering sign through town before planting it in the ground and raising it up in a Herculean effort, with six men on each side pushing and pulling. The 20-foot tall sign announced the launch of a pilot project -- the opening of a new e-waste recycling facility that could transform the way recyclers work in one of the worst polluted places on earth. Source: Blacksmith Institute Pollution Blog, 10/16/14

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Ebay, Kindle and Skype rule among the greenest apps
Ebay, Skype and Kindle now have more in common than being three of the most widely used smartphone apps. They are also the best apps for promoting sustainable behavior, according to a recent study by the WSP Group, a U.K. environmental consultancy firm. WSP devised a subjective scoring system to rank the top 20 apps that "bring sustainability to everyday lives." It scored the apps on three metrics: popularity (gauged by the number of downloads), "stickability" (essentially its shelf life, determined by its average app rating, functionality and user comments) and environmental impact. Source:, 10/20/14

Building a Culture of Sustainability
Greening operations is an opportune platform to align employees to your institution's values, provide them with more training for a safer work environment and bolster pride in their employer--all of which results in better engagement. This post outlines six steps for building a culture of sustainability. Source: AdvanceWeb, 10/15/14

Supply-chain fixes are the secret sauce for three NY companies
What do ice cream toppings, mushroom-based packaging and paving stones in common? They all can be greener. In this P2 Impact column, Trish Donohue and Anahita Williamson from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, explain how three companies are doing it. Source: GreenBiz, 10/21/14

Sweeping Air Devices For Greener Planes
The large amount of jet fuel required to fly an airplane from point A to point B can have negative impacts on the environment and--as higher fuel costs contribute to rising ticket prices--a traveler's wallet. With funding from NASA and the Boeing Company, engineers from the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech and their collaborators from the University of Arizona have developed a device that lets planes fly with much smaller tails, reducing the planes' overall size and weight, thus increasing fuel efficiency. Source: Cal Tech, 10/20/14

Monday, October 20, 2014
The case for corporate sustainability? Better employees
The business case for sustainability may come down to employee engagement and retention. Source: The Guardian, 10/15/14

This is the Fortune 500 of companies taking the lead to fight climate change
CDP, a British environmental nonprofit, receives data from almost 2,000 companies around the world showing what they do to fight climate change. From that, the group has compiled a list of the 187 best companies--firms such as Apple, Samsung, and BMW--into a kind of elite (and much smaller) Fortune 500 for environmentally-conscious companies, dubbed the Climate Performance Leadership Index (CPLI), and it says those companies are outperforming the rest of the market. The CPLI returned 37.5% from 2010-2014 to investors, compared with 34.2% for the Bloomberg World Index. Source: Quartz, 10/18/14

SIN List Updated, Substitution Tool Launched
ChemSec's annual Substitute It Now, or SIN list, has been updated with the addition of 28 chemicals identified as Substances of Very High Concern, using criteria defined by the EU's REACH regulation. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/9/14

EPA Finds Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments of Little or No Benefit to U.S. Soybean Production
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released an analysis of the benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments for insect control in soybeans. Neonicotinoid pesticides are a class of insecticides widely used on U.S. crops that EPA is reviewing with particular emphasis for their impact on pollinators. The analysis concluded that there is little or no increase in soybean yields using most neonicotinoid seed treatments when compared to using no pest control at all. A Federal Register notice inviting the public to comment on the analysis will publish in the near future. Source: U.S. EPA, 10/16/14

Hazardous chemicals in your pizza box? Petition asks FDA to ban them
U.S. manufacturers stopped using a hazardous chemical in pizza boxes and other food wrappers three years ago -- but it may still be seeping into your takeout food. That's because foreign companies can still use perchlorate and perfluorocarboxylates (PFCs) -- which can cause permanent brain damage in infants -- in paper products that are imported into the United States. On Thursday, a group of consumer and health groups filed a food additive petition with the Food and Drug Administration, asking that the agency pass regulations that would close this loophole and clearly ban the chemicals in food production. Perchlorate helps to reduce static and PFCs keep grease from soaking into food containers. Source: Washington Post, 10/16/14

How DuPont and P&G plan to make detergent from agricultural waste
In what may be an industry first, Procter & Gamble and the chemical giant join forces to use ethanol made from farm waste in laundry detergent. Source: GreenBiz, 10/17/14

The Rise of Reusable and Sustainable Packaging
Under constant pressure from government, the mass media and consumers, the packaging industry is exploring more sustainable alternatives. Source: American Manufacturing News, October 2014

EPA Sees Wide Risks in Paint Strippers
Methylene chloride, widely used in paint stripping products, poses a health threat to hundreds of thousands of workers, consumers and project bystanders, U.S. authorities have determined. The findings of the final risk assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could move the agency a step closer to regulating the chemical, also known as Dichloromethane (DCM). Source: PaintSquare, 9/2/14

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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