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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
EU body takes aim at planned obsolescence in devices
A branch of the European Union is calling on stakeholders to improve the repairability of electronics and ferret out devices designed to have short lifespans. The European Parliament on July 4 voted to approve a resolution calling on the European Commission, member countries and producers to take steps to improve repairability. The resolution doesn't place any requirements into law. But it does signal the desire of the legislative body, which is directly elected by voters in each member country, to address the issue through future laws and voluntary programs. The parliament voted 662 to 32 to approve the resolution. The document seeks to have products built to last longer and made easier to repair. It suggests discouraging manufacturers from taking steps to prevent independent repair shops from making fixes, and it calls for spare parts to be made available. Among its long list of suggestions and requests, the document asks the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, to propose a EU-wide definition of planned obsolescence and to explore a system to test products for built-in obsolescence. It also calls for "better legal protection for 'whistleblowers' and appropriate dissuasive measures for producers." It addresses obsolescence for both hardware and software. Additionally, it calls on the commission to consider a voluntary labeling system informing consumers about a product's durability, eco-design features, upgradeability and repairability. Source: E-Scrap News, 7/13/17

Study confirms how lead got into Flint's water
Flint's pipes were only part of the problem in the city's water crisis. The absence of a water treatment -- called orthophosphate -- was a major contributor to lead contamination of Flint, Michigan's water supply, scientists confirmed recently in Environmental Science and Technology Letters. Omitting orthophosphate, which controls metal corrosion, caused lead embedded in the pipes to leach into the water. The results suggest Flint's public health emergency could have been prevented if this corrosion control had not been overlooked. Source: PBS Newshour, 8/1/17

Materials emitted by a water pipe-repair method may pose health risks, new safeguards and research needed
New research is calling for immediate safeguards and the study of a widely used method for repairing sewer-, storm-water and drinking-water pipes to understand the potential health and environmental concerns for workers and the public. Source: Purdue University, 7/27/17

Can some corporations become forces for good?
While publicly-held American corporations are responsible to shareholders to maximize profits, a growing group of businesses say they're approaching their enterprises differently, with an eye toward environmental sustainability and workers' rights. NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker reports on B Corps, a classification of businesses that are attempting to incorporate social responsibility into their money-making practice. Source: PBS, 7/30/17

Who Invests in Energy Efficiency and Why?
This blog post is the second in a three-post series on understanding and increasing investments by businesses and individuals in energy efficiency. In the first post, we discussed current energy efficiency investments in the United States, which we estimate total about $60-115 billion per year. This number includes investments driven by policy, private market investments, and a mix of the two. In this post, we explore who invests in energy efficiency and why, focusing on mainstream businesses and consumers. The third and final post will build on the first two and discuss approaches that could increase efficiency investments in the future. Source: ACEEE, 7/24/17

How many billions do US businesses and individuals invest in energy efficiency each year?
Energy efficiency investments occur in virtually every sector of the economy. When combined, their total number is substantial -- estimates range from about $60 to $115 billion a year in the United States. In this post, we look at some recent estimates of energy efficiency spending, updating and expanding information we compiled earlier this year so that we may better understand the magnitude of these investments and where they occur. These findings provide a foundation for two subsequent posts we will publish in the next month on "Who invests in energy efficiency and why?" and "How can we increase energy efficiency investments?" Source: ACEEE, 7/18/17

Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Key Takeaways from the NYC Food Waste Fair
More than 1,200 attendees and nearly 80 exhibitors gathered together at the NYC Food Waste Fair yesterday in Brooklyn, N.Y., to discuss the issue of food waste. Source: Waste360, 7/26/17

How a union bottle line worker revolutionized recycling for MillerCoors breweries
Kelly Harris' waste diversion plan helped eight of MillerCoors' major breweries earn landfill-free verification from NSF International in 2016. Harris also changed the culture at his Trenton, Ohio, brewery to such a degree that it reuses or recycles more than 99% of all its by-products. Source: New York Daily News, 7/26/17

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Arizona Breweries to Make Beer With Treated Wastewater
As part of what is being called the AZ Pure Water Brew Challenge, more than 30 Arizona breweries have agreed to make beer this summer with water from a portable system that treats wastewater. Source: Associated Press, 7/8/17

This Pickle Company Achieved Zero Food Waste By Turning Scraps Into Compost And Bloody Marys
Getting to zero food waste is very possible: it just takes a little creative thinking. Source: Fast Company, 7/24/17

IKEA's 7 imperatives for scrapping food waste
Last month, IKEA, which serves hot meals, take-home products and coffee to 650 million annual visitors at nearly 400 of its stores in 48 countries, publicized its goal of halving the food waste from those operations by August 2020. The "Food is Precious" initiative trains employees to use an electronic "smart scale" and data analysis tool to identify what is being wasted (and why) and to find creative solutions to reclaim the profit. Source: GreenBiz, 7/24/17

Monday, July 24, 2017
Biomimicry @ 20: A conversation with Janine Benyus
Nature holds the answers to successful corporate sustainability, says Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. When biologists are at the design table, she said, they "basically ask the question: What in the natural world has already solved the problem that we're trying to solve, and what can it teach us?" Source: GreenBiz, 7/24/17

Friday, July 21, 2017
Wisconsin moves to protect groundwater with rules limiting manure spreading
After years of complaints about manure spreading and its potential to harm drinking water, state officials are advancing first-ever rules to limit animal waste on vulnerable soils of eastern Wisconsin. Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/10/17



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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