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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
The Evolving Politics of Climate Change
Public attitudes are shifting in favor of government action. What's playing out in Salt Lake City is worth watching. Source: Governing, 2/25/15

Making sustainability easy for the retail customer
Retailers such as TreeHouse of Austin, Texas, are hoping to make money and help the planet by adopting new marketing and sales tactics to help consumers make informed decisions about environmentally friendly products. "Green retailing hasn't been done successfully yet, but we want to change that," says TreeHouse investor Garrett Boone. Source: GreenBiz, 2/24/15

California's plastic bag ban suspended by ballot referendum
California's first-in-the-nation statewide ban on plastic shopping bags was put on hold Tuesday when state election officials confirmed a trade group had turned in enough signatures to place the issue before voters in 2016. Source: Associated Press, 2/24/15

National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation - April 1-30
The Wyland Foundation's Annual National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation held every Earth Month (April 1-30) is a competition that encourages cities across the nation to see who can be the most water wise by asking their residents to take a series of informative, easy to use pledges online to conserve water, energy and other natural resources. The non-profit campaign is presented nationally by Toyota and the Wyland Foundation, in association with NLC, EPA Office of Water, U.S. Forest Service, the Toro Company, Bytelaunch, Inc., Wondergrove Kids, and mayors and water agencies across the country. Source: Wyland Foundation, 2/25/15

EPA Delves Deeper into Corporate Sustainability Data
For more than two decades, EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program has required industrial facilities to disclose both their environmental releases and the measures they've taken to keep toxic chemicals out of our air, water, and land. It was only recently, however, that the TRI Program began promoting this treasure trove of pollution prevention (P2) data as a resource for identifying demonstrably-effective green practices. Source: ACS Green Chemistry blog, 2/19/15

2014 Year in Review - ACS GCI Industrial Roundtables
The ACS Green Chemistry Institute would like to thank the 43 corporations that worked collaboratively and non-competitively throughout 2014 to catalyze the integration of sustainable and green chemistry and engineering in the global chemical enterprise. Beginning in 2005 with just three companies on one Roundtable, there are now four Roundtables serving 43 members. The ACS GCI Industrial Roundtables are a proven concept, demonstrating that collaboration among peer companies can effectively provide value directly to the company, as well as to the collective industry, in designing more sustainable processes and products, a pursuit that is imperative for a sustainable business and environment. Source: ACS Green Chemistry blog, 2/19/15

Startup Develops World's Thinnest Speaker
A startup called Soundlazer claims to have developed the world's thinnest speaker, made from a new class of plastic polymer. With the ability to reproduce a large range of audio frequencies, the company says it can be used to deliver audio in tight or unique spaces. Source: Sustainable Brands, 2/24/15

IL: Aquatics center at Niles North recognized for energy-efficiency
The energy-efficient design of the $14.7 million aquatics center that opened at Niles North High School in Skokie two years ago has earned recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council. Niles North's aquatics center was recognized in December with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) "Gold" certification--the second-highest certification level awarded to the "greenest" buildings in the U.S. When the school's former 48-year-old pool was replaced with the aquatics center in 2013, architects designed a 121-foot competition pool around a multitude of energy-reducing systems that minimize the use of artificial light, water, and the amount of energy required to heat and cool the building. Source: Chicago Tribune, 1/9/15

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Turning smartphones into personal, real-time pollution monitors
As urban residents know, air quality is a big deal. When local pollution levels go up, the associated health risks also increase, especially for children and seniors. But air pollution varies widely over the course of a day and by location, even within the same city. Now scientists, reporting in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, have used smartphone and sensing technology to better pinpoint where and when pollution is at its worst. Source: American Chemical Society (ACS), 2/18/15

Monday, February 23, 2015
Smart keyboard cleans and powers itself -- and can tell who you are
In a novel twist in cybersecurity, scientists have developed a self-cleaning, self-powered smart keyboard that can identify computer users by the way they type. The device, reported in the journal ACS Nano, could help prevent unauthorized users from gaining direct access to computers. Source: ACS News Service, 1/21/15

Friday, February 20, 2015
CVS Health and WBA race to Rx for safer chemicals
Now that Walgreens owns "Priority Substances" star Boots Alliance, which drugstore thoroughbred should we bet on? Source: GreenBiz, 2/19/15

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
U.S. EPA chief hints at softening carbon rule interim timeline
The Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday that it may ease an interim deadline for states to meet tougher carbon emission standards after regulators and electric utilities complained a lack of time may destabilize electricity supplies. Source: Planet Ark, 2/18/15

For Cleaner Water, Just Add Beer
Leave it to Colorado to dream up a greener beer: The city of Boulder is teaming up with Avery Brewing Company to use weak wort--a sugar-water brewing byproduct--to help treat municipal wastewater. In a state with many breweries and some of the nation's stricter clean-water regulations, it's a winning approach that both city and brewery hope others will replicate. Source: CityLab, 2/17/15

Nebraska Scientist Looks To End Electronic Waste
The Environmental Protection Agency says electronic waste is the fastest-growing component of the waste stream. Electronics often contain hazardous materials which could pose health risks if they leach into groundwater. But one Nebraska researcher says the day may come when throwing your phone or TV away won't impact the environment at all. Jinsong Huang, an assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is leading a team that's developing organic transparent transistors--which means he's found a way to use natural materials to make electronic screens -- screens that could go into computers, TV's, phones, and more. Source: Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) News, 2/17/15

What business can learn from Mother Nature, the greenest chemist of all
Rather than neutralizing chemical waste, more scientists are borrowing formulas from the natural world. Their goal: leave the earth a better place. Source: GreenBiz, 2/13/15

6 sustainable innovation and design trends to watch
Cities, climate change, crowdsourcing and other factors are getting businesses and governments into green design. Here's what to expect. Source: GreenBiz, 2/17/15

New ASU center will advance biomimicry education and research
Biomimicry 3.8 co-founder Dayna Baumeister discusses the firm's joint effort with Arizona State University: the Biomimicry Center announced today. Source: GreenBiz, 2/18/15

How PepsiCo aims to close the loop on recycling
Companies are shifting strategies to better engage consumers when it comes to keeping their products out of landfills. Source: GreenBiz, 2/13/15

New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Videos #5
This week's video features Katharine Jacobs, Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions and former Assistant Director in the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. She will discuss challenges and solutions for higher education in promoting a sustainable society. Sustainability Sit-Downs is a new Second Nature video series consisting of 12 short interviews with sustainability leaders in higher education and partner organizations. A new video will be released every Wednesday. Source: Second Nature, 2/18/15

Call for Presentations: Green Electronics Council's Emerging Green Conference
The Green Electronics Council has issued a Call for Presentations for the Emerging Green Conference 2015. From September 22-24 in Portland, Oregon, USA, global technology leaders will convene at Emerging Green to discuss the advances, challenges and role of electronics in the circular economy. Individuals interested in presenting may submit their abstracts online. With the overall theme of "Electronics in the Circular Economy," Emerging Green 2015 will be comprised of multiple tracks that address key issues for electronics and sustainability. Possible focus areas may include "Critical Materials Management," "Next-Gen Products and Sustainability," "E-Waste and Recycling," "Greening with Electronics" and "Electronics and Emerging Economies." Presentation abstracts will be accepted until May 1, 2015. Applicants will be notified by July 1, 2015, whether their proposal has been accepted. Source: Green Electronics Council, 2/11/15

UT: E-waste recyclers struggle to keep up with influx of old TV sets
SALT LAKE CITY -- Flat screens or curved screens are in; the old models are out. So, what should you do with your older model TV? Turns out, recyclers nationwide are struggling to keep up with all the old-time sets they're receiving. Nationwide, cathode-ray (CRT) televisions are being thrown away by the millions. "Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the U.S.," said Pat Sheehan, with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Sheehan said there's very little use nowadays for the CRT glass, which contains lead. If materials like this are not disposed of properly, they can harm the environment and potentially end up in our drinking water. Source:, 2/16/15

First Voluntary Sustainability Standard for Household Cooking Appliances Published
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), CSA Group, and UL Environment today announced the release of AHAM 7004-2015/CSA SPE-7004-15/UL 7004-15, Sustainability Standard for household cooking appliances, the first voluntary sustainability standard for household cooking products.The cooking products covered in the standard include convection, non-convection and steam products such as ranges, built-in cook tops and ovens. This new standard is the fourth in a family of product sustainability standards under development by AHAM, CSA Group, and UL Environment intended for use by manufacturers, governments, retailers, and others to identify environmentally preferable products. The standard is based on a lifecycle approach for identifying the environmental impacts of household cooking appliances in five key areas: materials, manufacturing and operations, energy consumption during use, end-of-life, and innovation. Source: UL Environment, 2/11/15

R3NEW joins Wisconsin DNR Green Tier program
The electronics recycling firm R3NEW, Neenah, Wisconsin, has been formally accepted into the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Green Tier program. The Wisconsin DNR's Green Tier program offers participants recognition for superior environmental performance; deferred civil enforcement; improved agency relations; the opportunity to be a pioneer in regulatory reform; and the potential for permit streamlining, modified monitoring requirements and alternative compliance methods. To gain entry into Green Tier, R3NEW certified its environmental management system to the ISO: 14001 standard. The company also holds R2 (Responsible Recycling Practices) certification from the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board. While R3NEW has tripled in size during the past two years, it has reduced its waste output with a stated goal of becoming a "a zero-landfill company." Source: Recycling Today, 2/17/15

IL: Proposal looks to distribute electronic recycling costs
A proposal to share the electronic recycling costs between Normal, Bloomington and McLean County is under approval after months of discussion. The proposal would be for one year and retroactive to Jan. 1. Bloomington would pay 45 percent of the cost. Normal would pay 31 percent and McLean County, 24 percent. Any party could withdraw with 60 days' notice. Since 2002, the town has operated an electronic recycling program and accepts any electronics from any individual. As required by the federal Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act, contractor Vintage Tech received financial support from electronics recyclers, so the recycling did not cost the town any money. In September, the financial support ended, and Vintage Tech had to start charging the town with the biggest cost coming from recycling cathode ray tube televisions and monitors. Source: Vidette Online, 2/16/15

Other Environmental News

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