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Environmental News


Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, August 28, 2014
Kenya Recycles E-Waste From Around The World, Keeping Pollutants Out Of Landfills
MACHAKOS, Kenya (AP) -- In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some of the estimated 50 million metric tons of hazardous electronic-waste the world generated last year. Source: Associated Press via Huff Post Green, 8/22/14

How one Texas electronics recycling facility tries to beat the heat
Step out onto the massive processing floor at ECS Refining in Mesquite, Texas, and the first thing you notice is the air, which on an August morning feels like 100-degree soup. It's not exactly the ideal environment for manually dismantling e-scrap for 10 hours. ECS managers say many potential employees don't make it through the initial three weeks of training, but they note those that can handle the rigors of CRT de-manufacturing and other tasks are actually able to thrive at the Dallas-area facility that spans 250,000-square-feet. A number of unique efforts made by the company help workers weather the conditions in a facility so large that air conditioning is not an economic or effective option. Source: Resource Recycling, 8/28/14

How the zero-waste economy benefits everyone
Welcome to the emerging world of the circular economy. Faced with rising prices for energy and raw materials, along with pressures from environmentalists and regulators who have passed "extended producer responsibility laws" in Europe and some U.S. states, forward-thinking companies are finding ways to take back, reuse, refurbish or recycle all kinds of things that otherwise would be thrown away. In contrast to the traditional "take-make-dispose" linear economy, which depletes resources, a circular economy is an industrial system that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design. Inspired by nature, a circular economy aspires not merely to limit waste but to eliminate the very idea of waste: Everything, at the end of its life, should be made into something else, just as in the natural world, one species' waste is another's food. Source: GreenBiz.com, 8/28/14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Mars: To transform raw materials supply, we must work together
Creating sustainable supply of key ingredients is not an area for competition, says the confectioner's sustainability director, Kevin Rabinovitch. Source: GreenBiz, 8/26/14

How She Leads: Cindy Ortega, MGM Resorts
Her financial background wins support, but her grassroots employee efforts for energy efficiency and water conservation deliver results. Source: GreenBiz, 8/26/14

Five sustainable boondoggles: greenwashing all the way to the bank
From SeaWorld"s "Cup That Cares" to an underground beer fridge -- these products are touting green creds that may not exist. Source: The Guardian, 8/25/14

Ioxus, Maxwell, Win Inertia bet on ultracapacitors to store energy
While batteries still generate more headlines, the role of ultracapacitors in energy storage and efficiency applications moved toward center stage this summer with high-profile transportation projects for two notable players, Ioxus and Maxwell Technologies. Source: GreenBiz.com, 8/20/14

Monday, August 25, 2014
Questionable additive okay for toothpaste but not hand soap?
Starting in 2017, the state of Minnesota will ban the use of an antibacterial chemical in consumer products. Triclosan has been found in the waters and fish of the Great Lakes, and a number of health organizations in Canada are urging their government to ban the chemical as well. Recently Bloomberg looked at the process of how triclosan was considered for use in some brands of toothpaste. Current State's Melissa Benmark speaks with article's author, Tiffany Kary, to learn more about the potential dangers of triclosan. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 8/24/14

Saving Money Is No. 1 Sustainability Driver
Saving money is the no. 1 reason executives give for moving towards more environmentally sustainable business practices, according to a Grant Thornton report. Source: Envrionmental Leader, 8/25/14

How business can keep clean water flowing
Private investments productively and profitably can be diverted toward improving agricultural and urban watersheds, says TNC. Source: GreenBiz, 8/25/14

Finding the Money for Water Infrastructure
A new federal loan program, patterned after a successful one for transportation, has a lot of potential for badly needed water projects. Source: Governing, 7/21/14

Study: Cutting emissions pays for itself
Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution. But just how large are the health benefits of cleaner air in comparison to the costs of reducing carbon emissions? MIT researchers looked at three policies achieving the same reductions in the United States, and found that the savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big -- in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation. Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 8/24/14

Chromium-Free Coatings Technology Nets National Innovation Award
A chromium-free paint developed through research at North Dakota State University, Fargo, and licensed to Elinor Specialty Coatings, Inc., is a 2014 TechConnect National Innovation Awardee. Elinor licensed the technology through the NDSU Research Foundation, and developed Aluma45 MgRP, a chromium-free magnesium-rich primer for use on aluminum-alloys and composites in ship, automotive and construction materials manufacturing. Aluma45 can be used directly on bare metal, eliminating chromium-based pre-treatments, which reduces weight, manufacturing time and costs, while eliminating toxic chromium coating procedures and disposal. Source: North Dakota State University, 8/22/14

Friday, August 22, 2014
Seafood substitutions can expose consumers to unexpectedly high mercury
New measurements from fish purchased at retail seafood counters in 10 different states show the extent to which mislabeling can expose consumers to unexpectedly high levels of mercury, a harmful pollutant. Source: University of Hawai'i Manoa, 8/18/14

Antibacterial Soap Exposes Health Workers to High Triclosan Levels
Handwashing with antibacterial soap exposes hospital workers to significant and potentially unsafe levels of triclosan, a widely-used chemical currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a study led by researchers from UC San Francisco. Source: University of California San-Francisco, 8/19/14

BPA-Free Plastic Containers May Be Just as Hazardous
Animal studies find that a replacement compound for the estrogen-mimicking chemical bisphenol A may also be harmful to human health. Source: Scientific American, 8/11/14

Scientists Discover 56 Active Pharmaceuticals in Wastewater Treatment Plants
Scientists have identified 56 active pharmaceutical ingredients in effluent samples from 50 large wastewater treatment plants across the USA, according to a report published in Environmental Pollution. Source: Elsevier, 8/22/14

Can Urban Agriculture Work on a Commercial Scale?
An urban farm in Montreal is scaling the industry "with more software than farmers." Source: CityLab, 8/22/14

Understanding the origin of products is key to ending supply chain scandals
Knowing the ingredients in, and origin of, a product is not just ethically right, it makes business sense too Source: The Guardian, 8/22/14

Just too many toxic tubes
Thinking about recycling that old behemoth television or computer monitor gathering dust in the basement? You might want to hold off for a while. A glut of now-obsolete technology -- the glass cathode ray tube used in multiple millions of televisions and computer monitors -- has turned into a toxic millstone threatening to drag down the state's four-year-old consumer electronics recycling law. Source: Albany Times-Union, 8/9/14

Thursday, August 21, 2014
Conflict minerals reports are filed, but what do they say?
Most filers in this initial disclosure year were unable to determine the origin of conflict minerals (tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, known collectively as 3TG) in their products. They described their conflict minerals status as "undeterminable" or made no declaration. While some stakeholders were anxious to see what companies had to say, those participating in efforts to comply with the SEC's new conflict mineral rule know well the challenges of completing these first-year filings. The complexity of supply chains created challenges for most companies. And there is still a long way to go. Ernst & Young's recent study of conflict minerals filings -- which may help serve as an early guide to the 3TG disclosure landscape and help facilitate an assessment of how companies compare -- found data about reporting across all SEC reporting companies. Source: GreenBiz.com, 8/19/14



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