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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Rivals Walmart and Target make up over cosmetics
The mega-retailers' summit on personal care products is shrouded in secrecy. How could their alliance change the face of beauty? Source: The Guardian, 7/29/14

Tackling the food waste challenge with technology
Innovation in packaging and refrigeration can reduce waste -- as can changes in behavior. Source: The Guardian, 7/29/14

Five Questions for Jeffrey Sachs On Decarbonizing the Economy
Thirty scientific institutions from 15 countries last week released a report for the United Nations outlining how the world's major carbon dioxide-emitting nations can slash those emissions by mid-century. Called the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, the initiative aims to provide government leaders with a plan of action in advance of a UN climate summit in September and climate negotiations in Paris in late 2015. Yale Environment 360 asked Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and a key player in the decarbonization project, five questions about the initiative and the prospects for global action on the climate front. Source: Yale Environment360, 7/15/14

Counterfeit electronics briefing touches on e-scrap exports
During a recent Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., a panel of technology experts expressed support for the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA). The session was held to discuss the problem of counterfeit electronics compromising American defense equipment, and according to a press release from the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER), the three panelists participating urged Congress to take steps to ensure more end-of-life electronics are processed domestically. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/17/14

Policy Group Asks FTC to Review 'Misleading' Green Claims About Biomass
A policy group is asking the Federal Trade Commission to scrutinize advertising claims by biomass plants that the energy produced is environmentally friendly. Source: WFPL, 7/29/14

How Your Cereal Causes Climate Change
General Mills, maker of Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Wheaties, said Monday that it will set a target to limit air pollution throughout its entire supply chain next summer. Source: National Journal, 7/28/14

Friday, July 25, 2014
EPA Kicks Off Third-Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching its third-annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a prize contest that engages college students in developing innovative green infrastructure systems to reduce stormwater pollution and build resilience to climate change. Source: U.S. EPA, 7/24/14

Thursday, July 24, 2014
State University of New York College at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta) researcher patents green chemistry discovery
Dr. Jacqueline Bennett has invented a new chemical process that's safer, greener and more efficient than traditional methods used to make imines, a class of chemical compounds that has household and industrial applications. Chemical processes used to create essential materials often consume large quantities of relatively toxic compounds that are later disposed of as hazardous waste. Bennett's research focuses on finding more environmentally friendly ways to make imines, which are found in a wide range of products, from automotive rust inhibitors to antibiotics. Because traditional imine synthesis uses solvents that pose inhalation hazards, Bennett experimented with a benign alternative solvent called ethyl lactate, a naturally occurring, FDA-approved food additive that breaks down quickly and harmlessly in the environment. Unlike the established method, Dr. Bennett's process does not require heat, agitation, recrystallization or purification. Yet it forms imines more quickly, producing higher yields. Source: ACS Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog, 7/22/14

Federal study shows safety lapses in e-scrap processing
A just-released federal report sheds light on the numerous occupational health and safety dangers that likely exist at e-scrap firms throughout the country. The report, released this month by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), shares findings from a series of site visits conducted between 2012 and 2013 at the request of an undisclosed e-scrap firm in the U.S. NIOSH collected air, surface and blood samples and interviewed about a quarter of facility employees to identify necessary health and safety improvements. And, according to the report, a variety of shortcomings were found. Seven of 26 interviewed employees reported health concerns connected to CRT de-manufacturing, and NIOSH staffers found reason for worry on lead exposure. Source: E-scrap News, 7/24/14

Hacker Musician Turns E-Waste Into an Awesome Instrument
We tend to think of musical instruments in fixed terms: that's a guitar, this is a saxophone, that's a synthesizer. Colten Jackson, however, plays an instrument that's hard to classify. The Illinois musician hacked together what he calls the Hard Rock Guitar out of e-waste: six obsolete hard drives, and an old keyboard number pad, powered by an Arduino board. Jackson made the instrument at Makerspace Urbana. Source: Wired, 7/22/14

EPA Funds Environmental Health Research for Tribal Communities
To identify and reduce tribal health risks associated with climate change, indoor wood smoke exposure, environmental asthma, waterborne diseases, and other unique tribal concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding tribal environmental health research grants to six groups, including universities and tribes. Source: U.S. EPA, 7/23/14

LAUNCH System Challenge: Green Chemistry Seeks Innovations for Materials and Manufacturing
With this LAUNCH System Challenge: Green Chemistry, LAUNCH is seeking innovations that leverage or advance green chemistry to transform the system of materials and manufacturing to one that advances global economic growth, drives human prosperity and replenishes the planet's resources. When referring to green chemistry LAUNCH uses the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, the definition which the Environmental Protection Agency also uses, in order to provide a common framing. Source: The Nexus Blog, 7/22/14

Greener Roads: Arizona Chemical Makes Pine-based Performance Additive
Arizona Chemical Company, LLC, has a strong history of providing sustainable solutions from renewable resources. AZC drew on this background to specifically develop a pine-based performance additive to address the unique chemical and mechanical needs of pavement engineering utilizing recycled pavement. This SYLVAROADâ„¢ RP 1000 performance additive bridges the technology gap and enables the use of high reclaimed content roads. Source: The Nexus Blog, 7/23/14

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
States, Cities Get Creative About Recycling Water
Reusing water is a possible solution as half the country experiences severe drought. Source: Stateline, 7/23/14

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Why targeting 4 human emotions is key to marketing sustainability
While brands have been remarkably successful at feeding universal human drives, such as the desire for adventure, power or status, sustainability has not been seeing the same success in its messaging. What sustainability needs to create the same impact is a similar level of insight into the best way to embrace the full range of human emotions. Because it's human emotion that's at the heart of what motivates us. Source: The Guardian, 7/21/14

Biodegradable Plastic Technology Moves Forward
Source: Environmental Leader, 7/22/14

The Extraordinary Future of Shoes
Knitted footwear technology is poised to enhance sustainability and walkability alike. Source: The Atlantic, 7/22/14

Where Does Discarded Clothing Go?
Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year. Can for-profit recycling companies turn those rags into riches? Source: The Atlantic, 7/22/14

Do students really choose colleges based on how green they are?
A Princeton Review survey finds that incoming freshmen would weigh information about environmental issues into their college decisions, but average students say it's not on their radar Source: The Guardian, 7/22/14

4 ways to take green cities to the next level
This opportunity to "connect, cool, absorb and protect" with green infrastructure is being made real by cities all across America and the world at an accelerating rate. Recent shining examples include collaborative efforts to deploy wetlands and oyster reefs in New York City after Superstorm Sandy, massive tree planting and "green alley" initiatives in cities such as Los Angeles, and the widespread recapture of abandoned rail corridors to provide safe routes for biking and walking across metro regions such as Chicago and Seattle. These urban greening efforts lessen climate vulnerability and carbon emissions in equal measure. Source: GreenBiz, 7/21/14

6 reasons technology alone can't solve water scarcity
Sustainably addressing water scarcity will require technology solutions both conventional and innovative -- both the "hard path for water" and the soft path for water. Source: GreenBiz, 7/21/14

Microsoft buys entire output of Illinois wind farm
Microsoft took another step toward its goal of becoming carbon neutral, announcing its second enormous purchase of wind energy. The company signed a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy 175 megawatts (MW) of wind energy -- the entire output -- of Pilot Hill Wind Project in Illinois. The wind farm is 60 miles from Chicago and will supply Microsoft's data center there through the grid. Source: GreenBiz, 7/21/14

9 key trends in corporate sustainability reporting
Nearly three-quarters of sustainability professionals ranked CSR above seven out of 10 in relation to their business objectives (with one being low and 10 being high.) Meanwhile, most organizations dedicate between $34,000 and $84,000 of their budget to CSR reporting activity. These are just some key findings from a recent 2degrees CSR reporting survey, which aims to help organizations identify key trends in CSR reporting, stakeholder engagement and materiality. Source: GreenBiz, 7/21/14

GreenBiz 101: The core of materiality? What matters most
If you're a sustainability professional who got his or her start in environmental affairs, chemistry or toxicology, the word "materiality" probably wasn't part of your core curriculum. But the concept may be invaluable when it comes to prioritizing sustainability initiatives and communicating progress toward them -- especially as awareness of these matters grows in the chief financial officer's office. With that in mind, we offer this brief accounting lesson. Source: GreenBiz, 7/22/14

Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed
A marketing revolution is under way and nowhere is that more visible than in the CMO's transforming role. Unilever CMO Keith Weed embodies this new order as an architect and leader of the firm's plan to double revenue while halving its environmental impact. In this edited interview, Weed describes a new breed of marketing organization and the CMO's increasingly strategic role. Source: HBR Blog Network, 7/21/14

Smartphones Are Everywhere--But Where Are the Standards?
When it comes to sustainability in the electronics industry, much attention is being paid to e-waste and energy efficiency. However, there is much more to making a sustainable smart product in the 21st century. That's why UL -- Underwriters Laboratories -- through UL Environment developed the UL 110 standard for mobile phones, tablets and other "smart" products. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/18/14

Other Environmental News

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