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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
EPA seeks input on key e-scrap issues
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency convened a meeting of some 50 key electronics recycling parties last week near Washington, D.C. to receive advice and input. The meeting -- the first "EPA Summit on Electronics" since 2005 -- included representatives of original equipment manufacturers, states, nonprofit organizations, e-scrap reclaimers and trade groups. The two-day session focused on two concerns. EPA sought input on CRT recycling management, including a review of how obsolete CRTs are being handled and how current and future problems can be addressed. Included at the meeting were executives from major CRT processors, including Closed Loop Refining and Recovery, Kuusakoski, Nulife Glass and Universal Recycling Technologies. The second focus of the meeting was sustainable electronics. Much of the discussion targeted two issues: design of electronics for reuse, repair and recycling, and better ways to determine what makes a firm a "good recycler." Source: Resource Recycling, 9/30/14

Detroit Zoo so 'green' animals will soon contribute manure for electricity
The Detroit Zoo is so aggressively green that even the rhinoceroses, giraffes and other animals are about to get in on the act. The zoo by next year plans to have a bio-digester in place that will use methane gas from the animals' manure to create electricity for the zoo's animal hospital, said Gerry Van Acker, chief operating officer at the zoo. Source: Daily Tribune, 9/25/14

Here's hope for the bees: A manifesto
The Honey Bee Health Coalition came together from all sectors to accelerate solutions to improve bee health. And they need you. Source: GreenBiz, 9/29/14

A new era of innovation for a resource-depleted world
Here's how a waterless shampoo invented 20 years ago points the way to the future. It's just one innovation for a resource-depleted world. Source: GreenBiz, 9/26/14

A glimpse into our 2030 waste-free world
Carbon emissions are no curse. If enforced bans on cigarette smoking has taught us anything, it's that individual and collective efforts can change our world for the better. Source: GreenBiz, 9/29/14

Monday, September 29, 2014
Dell Reinforces E-Waste Work In Africa, Asia and Latin America
Dell is stepping up its stewardship of electronic-waste (e-waste) management in Africa, Asia and Latin America through an alliance with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Under terms of the five-year pact, the two organizations will work together to create facilities for dismantling computers, televisions and other electronics equipment in a way that's safe for humans and the environment. The agreement builds on a program that the high-tech company created last year in Nairobi, Kenya, to create a regional e-waste recycling facility--one that could help communities there control contamination from materials such as lead, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants, and create some local jobs in the process. Source: Forbes, 9/26/14

Friday, September 26, 2014
Best Buy pledges to double e-scrap collection
Best Buy recently reached a major e-scrap recycling milestone, and the company's sustainability chief says the retailer intends to significantly grow collection totals moving forward. Best Buy announced it has taken in 1 billion pounds of end-of-life electronics and large appliances in the past six years. For a bit of perspective, that total is roughly equivalent to the amount the entire state of California collected through the first six years of its consumer-funded e-scrap program. What's more, Best Buy thinks it can collect 2 billion pounds of e-scrap and appliances in the next six years, through continuing to offer free recycling services at 1,400 stores throughout the U.S. "We're selling the products and we need to be part of the solution as well," Scott Weislow, senior director of environmental services at Best Buy, told E-Scrap News. "We are ready, we are committed to it. ... I don't foresee any reason why we would have any hiccups getting to that next 2 billion pound mark." Though traditionally thought of as a retailer, Best Buy is also one of the nation's largest original equipment manufacturers because it owns and sells the Insignia electronics brand. Source: Resource Recycling, 9/26/14

EPA indicates landfill cover is not CRT recycling
U.S. EPA has clarified its regulatory stance on whether leaded glass destined for tile manufacturing or landfill cover should be considered recycling. In separate letters dated Sept. 10 and uploaded onto the agency's website, Barnes Johnson, the director of the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, addresses the use of CRT glass as alternative daily cover (ADC) and as a flux and lead oxide in making ceramic tiles. According to those letters, the ADC option is considered legitimate disposal while the tile option is legitimate recycling. "Hazardous waste, such as CRT glass, that has been treated & and that no longer exhibits hazardous characteristics may be disposed in a landfill," Johnson writes in the ADC letter. On the tile front, the agency states, "Based on the provided information, the EPA finds the legitimate recycling factors set forth in EPA policy & appear to have been met." The letters are addressed to two of the biggest names in the end-of-life electronics game: The ADC letter was sent to Sony, and the tile letter was sent to Sims Recycling Solutions, the electronics recycling wing of publicly traded Sims Metal Management. Sony had asked the agency for clarification on the ADC front, while SRS had requested clarification on the tile option. It's significant that the tile process received an OK to be deemed recycling while landfill cover is only considered "disposal." Source: Resource Recycling, 9/26/14

Smart Homes Make For Angry Roommates
If you've ever come home to a roommate's dread passive-aggressive note tacked to the refrigerator door, you might not want to move into a smart home. Researchers have discovered that the smarter your home, the angrier roommates get at one another for wasting utilities. Source: Fast Company, 9/26/14

Illinois professors and students study community resilience around polluted waterways
There's no such thing as a good place to have a natural disaster, nor has there ever been an appropriate site to release toxic pollutants. But scientists have long recognized that some areas can handle such catastrophes better than others. As early as the 1970s, they used socioeconomic data from the U.S. Census to develop a tool called the Social Vulnerability Index, known as SoVI, to gauge the likely resilience of different communities. Now a team of professors and graduate students at the University of Illinois is testing and tweaking the SoVI model by studying at a more granular level the communities around two polluted Midwest waterways. Bethany Cutts, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, and Andrew Greenlee, a professor of urban and regional planning, received a two-year Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to study communities around the Lincoln Park-Milwaukee Estuary and portions of the Grand Calumet River south of Chicago, both designated "areas of concern" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Source: Inside Illinois, 9/2/14

Thursday, September 25, 2014
We Don't Have to Ditch Capitalism to Fight Climate Change
We know how to address the problem of climate change, and it doesn't require ditching the market economy. Instead, it relies on harnessing it. Source: HBR Blog Network, 9/24/14

Two Forces Moving Business Closer to Climate Action
This week, CEOs and world leaders met at the UN to talk climate. In the run-up to these high-level talks, many companies and some relatively new voices from the business community have been sounding both the alarm and the rallying cry for action. At the same time, the cost of renewable energy has dropped very far, very fast. It's a perfect storm bringing us to two important tipping points: one of belief and commitment to action, and one of economics. But there's still a major disconnect happening in one other area: the relationship between business and citizen consumers. Source: HBR Blog Network, 9/24/14

Microplastic Pollution Discovered in St. Lawrence River Sediments
A team of researchers from McGill University and the Quebec government have discovered microplastics (in the form of polyethylene 'microbeads,' less than 2 mm in diameter) widely distributed across the bottom of the St. Lawrence River, the first time such pollutants have been found in freshwater sediments. Source: McGill University, 9/23/14

Actions on Climate Change Bring Better Health, Study Says
The number of extremely hot days in Eastern and Midwestern U.S. cities is projected to triple by mid-century, according to a new study led by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 9/22/14

Live Long and Phosphor: Blue LED Breakthrough for Efficient Electronics
In a step that could lead to longer battery life in smartphones and lower power consumption for large-screen televisions, researchers at the University of Michigan have extended the lifetime of blue organic light emitting diodes by a factor of 10. Source: University of Michigan, 9/25/14

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
These 5 companies strive to convert CO2 to cash
A growing list of innovative companies is dedicated to reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by turning them into something else entirely. Unlike traditional carbon-capture technologies, the focus is on creating something that could produce a stream of revenue while addressing emissions. Source: GreenBiz, 9/22/14

Businesses find cash in composting organic trash
Small businesses have sprung up to serve the needs of those willing to pay a little extra to have their garbage recycled into compost. Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/13/14

Other Environmental News

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