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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Chevrolet is using old batteries to save...bats?
Chevrolet's landfill-free ?goal? requires it to account for every single waste stream generated at its operations. Circuit trays called the attention of environmental engineers at the landfill-free Kokomo Operations in Indiana? as they were not wanted by any local recyclers. After a bit ?of ?stewing on the problem, Chevrolet staff John Bradburn had an eureka moment when he realized that he could swap out the wood pallet layers in the original bat box design with the trays, which also would save time as he could just notch two wood pieces on the sides, enabling him to slide these trays one after another right inside the battery case. Source: GreenBiz, 6/29/15

Sprint, Staples, Kimberly-Clark: the litmus test for wheat-straw paper
Most people equate paper with cutting down trees, but an abundant eco-alternative covers literally tens of millions of acres across the North American prairies. Wheat straw, typically burned or landfilled by farmers to make way for new crops, is slowly gaining credibility as a durable replacement for virgin and recycled fiber from trees. The latest evidence comes from Sprint, which will test wheat straw paper made by Prairie Paper -- the Canadian startup co-founded by actor Woody Harrelson -- in customer mailings. Office supplies company Staples and tissue manufacturer Kimberly-Clark likewise have committed to this 'rapidly renewable' source of fiber. Other big companies getting behind wheat straw paper including Staples, which began stocking approximately two years ago. The office retailer estimates that for every two boxes of Step Forward Paper consumed, one tree is saved. Kimberly-Clark is using wheat straw, along with bamboo, for a series of products that use 20 percent plant fiber instead of tree fiber or recycled paper. The items include tissue paper and paper towels. The company is sourcing straw for the GreenHarvest line directly from farmers. Source: GreenBiz, 6/29/15

Lessons from an E-Scrap Workshop
Scott Cassel writes about participating in a panel at the Indiana Recycling Coalition Conference as part of Indiana's first E-cycle stakeholder meeting. "In a room filled with dedicated solid waste managers, recyclers, environmentalists, and government officials, we took a look at Indiana's current e-scrap recycling law to identify successes, challenges, and potential solutions." Source: The PSI Blog (Product Stewardship Institute), 6/30/15

Monday, June 29, 2015
Inside the Foundry -- AT&T's IoT innovation center
The IoT Foundry, part of a network of AT&T tech innovation centers, is a hub for the fast-growing Internet of Things, or IoT for short. Amid the quirky Silicon Valley vibe -- the rat's nest of cables, the mobile furniture, the indoor scooters and all the rest -- there's a decidedly serious mission: to envision and invent the next generation of efficiency technologies. Source:, 6/29/15

Upcycling for Good: Meet the Digitruck
For a decade, in partnership with Arrow's Value Recovery business, Close the Gap (CTG), an international nonprofit organization working to bridge the digital divide, has been distributing high-quality, pre-owned computers to people in developing and emerging countries. These computers are donated by large and medium-size corporations and public organizations that want to make a difference. Together, over the past 10 years, Close the Gap and Arrow Value Recovery have processed 440,000 donated computers and reached over 1.5 million users. However, the digital divide isn't simply due to a lack of available technology. For many, it starts with a lack of electricity. What good is a device if you don't have the electricity to power it? For many of the 75 percent of Africans who live in rural communities, a lack of infrastructure, including utilities such as electricity, makes the digital divide a veritable chasm. To span this great divide, Close the Gap has partnered with Greenlink to create a solar-powered mobile unit -- the Digitruck -- which is built with triple insulation to withstand the sub-Saharan African heat. The Digitruck can be used as a classroom or a clinic and can travel from village to village. Source: Arrow Value Recovery, 12/22/14

Friday, June 26, 2015
ISRI: Residents oppose one-bin collections
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries says a new poll supports its position opposing one-bin collections for delivery to mixed-waste processing facilities. The ISRI and Earth911 poll asked online readers the following: Is it worth the convenience to not separate your recyclables from your trash if when sorted after collection, it negatively affects the amount of materials that can be recycled? The result: 75 percent supported maintaining a separate bin for recycling. Source: Resource Recycling, 6/23/15

Google to transform carcass of Alabama coal power plant into clean-powered datacenter
Google plans to build a new datacenter in Alabama, which will by their 14th site globally. But they're not going to just build it in any regular spot; they will be taking over the Widows Creek Plant, a shut down coal power plant located on Guntersville Reservoir on the Tennessee River, in northeast Alabama, and convert the location to host this vital part of the internet infrastructure. What makes this extra-interesting is that the former-coal-plant-turned-datacenter will be powered by renewable energy. Source: TreeHugger, 6/25/15

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Survival Of The Greenest Beer? Breweries Adapt To A Changing Climate
When you hear the words "green brewery," you might picture gleaming solar panels or aerodynamic wind turbines. But the most valuable piece of technology at the $24 million dollar LEED-Gold-certified headquarters of Smuttynose Brewing Co. on the seacoast of New Hampshire isn't quite as sexy. Source: NPR, 6/24/15

When convenience is the enemy of energy conservation
Automatic bill pay lets customers tune out, ignoring the money and energy they waste. How can we make life smoother and yet sustainable? Source: GreenBiz, 6/24/15

How She Leads: Mary Anne Cannon, Pratt & Whitney
This engineer and former operations manager is leading her company's pursuit of aggressive sustainability goals while it is ramping up sales. Source: GreenBiz, 6/24/15

Apple's Lisa Jackson to lead all of Apple's social policy initiatives
Lisa Jackson, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency and Apple's top executive on environmental issues, will become the company's lead on all policy initiatives, including the environment, education and accessibility. Her new title will be the vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives. In a memo to employees, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that Jackson's new role is in line with the company's dedication to "leaving the world better than we found it." As part of her promotion, Jackson will also take over leadership of the company's global government affairs and public policy teams. Source: The Washington Post, 6/23/15

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
FL: In 'climate change' controversy, a tale of two agencies
This article contrasts the priorities of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Natural Resources with respect to addressing climate change. Source: Miami Herald, 6/21/15

Business planning in an ever more complex world
Businesses should engage in the complex social and political issues lapping at their doors such as inequity and climate negotiations. Here's how. Source: GreenBiz, 6/22/15

Materials from 49ers' Candlestick Park score a second life
How recycling an old professional sports stadium can translate to new economic and environmental benefits. Source: GreenBiz, 6/23/15

Amid Drought and Flooding, States and Localities Look to Harness the Rain
As drought grips California, floods overpower Texas and Eastern cities grapple with crumbling sewers that pump contaminated runoff into waterways, state and local governments are revisiting how they get, use and manage water. Source: Stateline, 6/23/15

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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