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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Does Silicon Valley Still Care About Climate Change?
Earlier this month, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins began the process of separating its cleantech investing from the rest of its fund. It marks the end of an era. Ten years after Kleiner star John Doerr was moved to tears during his TED talk about climate change, there's no longer any question that VCs' interest in clean energy is waning. Source: Harvard Business Review, 5/30/17

Even as Wind Power Rises, It Falls Under a Political Cloud
As utility operations increasingly avail themselves of wind, the administration looks at whether conventional sources have been placed at a disadvantage. Source: New York Times, 5/30/17

EPA halts Obama-era rule on methane pollution
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has halted an Obama administration rule to cut down on pollution of methane, a greenhouse gas produced at oil and natural gas drilling wells. Source: The Hill, 5/31/17

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Four Northwestern entrepreneurs bring sustainability and energy solutions to market
As the world has continued to move toward clean energy, so has Northwestern's materials science program, which is increasingly focused on sustainable materials design. The University has helped launch several companies with the goal of creating innovative energy solutions by designing and developing better materials with less energetic requirements. By bringing innovative materials to the market, these startups are creating disruptive technologies for electric car makers, produce shippers, battery manufacturers, and more. Source: Northwestern University, May 2017

Reazzo delivers a green flooring alternative
A Winnipeg contractor developed "a revolutionary decorative concrete topping" reminiscent of terrazzo flooring "quite by accident." Source: Daily Commercial News, 5/26/17

Wigwam Introduces New Recycling Program
Although Wigwam has been using solar energy to heat water in their dye house and motion sensor lights in their distribution center to reduce energy consumption for many years, a large amount of socks that didn't meet quality standards have been destroyed and discarded. Within a few weeks of stepping in as Wigwam's new President and CEO last Fall, Tom Wheeler discovered that this part of their process could immediately be improved. Source: Wigwam Mills, 5/25/17

The Best Ideas At N.Y.C.'s Design Month Are Garbage
During NYCxDesign, the design industry's equivalent of fashion week, some of the smartest concepts presented were actually trash. But you'd never know it--and as recycled materials grow up, that's kind of the point. Source: Fast Company, 5/26/17

U of I Extension effort targets lead in gardens
The University of Illinois Extension units in Fulton, Mason, Peoria and Tazewell counties has partnered with the Peoria City/County Health Department on an information campaign targeting lead in garden soils. Source: Farm Week Now, 5/20/17

Understanding nature helps unlock the potential of nanomaterials through cheaper, greener and safer methods
Nanosilicas have the potential to solve a number of pressing industrial issues, but are locked away because of wasteful and prohibitively expensive synthesis conditions. By contrast, nature produces far more complex silica under ambient conditions. By combining natural silica with computer simulations, we have discovered a method to produce green nanosilica, unlocking their industrial potential once and for all. Source: American Chemical Society, 5/26/17

Green Products to Face Shortfall in Key Ingredients: Report
Companies are scrambling for green alternatives to the chemicals that prevent products from going bad, as consumers shift their tastes to more sustainable goods.

Preservatives help prevent microbial growth in products such as cosmetics, medicine, paints and cleaning supplies. But they can also contain hazardous chemicals that are being targeted by regulators. Safer choices are elusive, as is access to the toxicological information needed to develop alternatives, the Environmental Defense Fund said in a new report. Source: Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report, 5/26/17


Prioritizing Water Reduction and Reclamation: Q&A with Ford's Andy Hobbs
About 17 years ago, Ford Motor Company took a closer look at its water costs. The move was initially met with wonder, especially given that the automaker is headquartered in the Great Lakes region.

"When we build a car, we know the cost of every second for every employee," says Andy Hobbs, director of the Environmental Quality Office at Ford Motor Company. "But we never really knew the cost of water. You'd get a water bill."

So Ford began applying disciplined techniques to understanding the true cost of water. In those early days, they discovered substantial leaks underground and aboveground, Hobbs says. This led to a careful chronicle of water-related issues, which the automaker then tackled systematically starting with no-cost changes and progressing to ones that required investment. Since then, Ford has reduced water consumption by 10 billion gallons. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/26/17


Companies paying closer attention to water usage, handling
Businesses seeking to reduce their environmental impact are looking beyond energy efficiencies and alternative energy sources to water -- mainly, how their organizations deal with water usage and the water collecting on their property. Innovative stormwater solutions receive the most attention as rules toughen regarding its collection. Two of the newer ideas being used are pervious parking surfaces and blue roofs. Source: Biztimes Milwaukee, 5/15/17

Sustainable business at a crossroads, again
MIT SMR's latest report, "Corporate Sustainability at a Crossroads," shows that most businesses have yet to crack the sustainability code. And now, after our eight annual surveys of tens of thousands of managers and more than 150 thought-leader interviews, we know why: Sustainability success requires a long-term, strategic-level commitment combined with business model innovation that goes way beyond changing light bulbs or charitable giving. Many managers understandably recoil from this level of sustainability commitment. Source: GreenBiz, 5/30/17

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Nevada processor pushes forward on unique e-scrap project
A fertilizer and silver producer has begun processing scrap printed circuit boards to isolate precious metals. Reno, Nev.-based Itronics provided an update on its process this week, explaining it is using two furnaces to recover gold, silver, palladium, tin and copper from circuit boards. Publicly traded Itronics processes scrap electronics sourced from New2U Computers, a nonprofit computer repair and disassembly operation in neighboring Sparks, Nev. that employs about 130 people with disabilities. Source: E-scrap news, 5/25/17

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
EPA Rule Amendment -- Compliance Date Extension for Formaldehyde Final Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a direct final rule to extend the compliance dates in the final Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products, published in the Federal Register December 12, 2016. Compliance dates would be extended for: (1) formaldehyde emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions until March 22, 2018; (2) import certification provisions until March 22, 2019; and (3) laminated product producer provisions until March 22, 2024. Note that laminated product producers would still be required to comply with applicable fabricator provisions beginning March 22, 2018. Additionally, the direct final rule would extend the California Air Resources Board Third-Party Certifiers transitional period until March 22, 2019. Source: EPA via Environmental News Bits, 5/23/17

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Ellen MacArthur Foundation Announces $2 Million Plastics Innovation Prize
To help spur what it calls the "New Plastic Economy," the Ellen MacArthur Foundation plans to launch a $2 million innovation prize in partnership with the Prince of Wales's International Sustainability Unit. Source: Triple Pundit, 5/18/17

How Global Value Chains Push and Pull U.S. Companies on Climate Action
In the United States, companies are engaging in climate action as a result of different domestic business drivers: Investing in renewables, innovating to create climate-compatible products, and attracting new talent through environmental values are most often driven by local or regional imperatives.

But for most companies operating within global value chains, the pull and push of climate action also comes from abroad, and many U.S. companies now understand the potential to demonstrate global leadership through climate action. Source: BSR, 4/20/17


Wasted Food Means Wasted Nutrients
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for a Livable Future calculated the nutritional value of food wasted in the U.S. at the retail and consumer levels, shining a light on just how much protein, fiber and other important nutrients end up in the landfill in a single year. Source: Johns Hopkins Universty, 5/15/17

These Cities Are Replacing The Worst Kind Of Infrastructure With The Best
In car-dependent Dallas, parking lots are ubiquitous downtown. But one lot will soon be de-paved and turned into a park. Nearby, another parking lot is turning into a temporary urban farm before it also becomes a park. Something similar is happening across the U.S. as cities begin to realize that a slab of asphalt for storing cars isn't the best use of valuable urban space. Source: Fast Company, 5/2/17

New Initiatives Chase 'Circular Economy' in Fashion, Textiles
The new Circular Fibres Initiative brings together clothing retailers H&M and Nike, philanthropic funder the C&A Foundation, and a consortium of organizations including the Danish Fashion Institute, Fashion for Good, Cradle to Cradle and MISTRA Future Fashion in order to "build a circular economy for textiles," starting with clothing. The members will address the environmental drawbacks of the "take-make-dispose" model currently dominating the industry and attempt to create a new system for textiles based on the principles of a circular economy, generating growth that benefits citizens and businesses, while phasing out negative impacts such as waste and pollution, the organization says. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/17/17

Retailers Lead the Charge toward Bio-Based Packaging
Retailers, with their increased use of sustainable packaging, are playing a leading role in encouraging consumers to adopt bio-based packaging materials; manufacturers and retailers that adopt biodegradable packaging materials will benefit through cost cuts and tax reductions, according to a Technavio market research analysis. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/17/17



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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