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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Minnesota's JavaCycle turns coffee-bean waste into sweet-smelling fertilizer
The parent company of Hill Bros. Coffee and Chock Full O'Nuts has partnered with the tiny, Minnesota-based operation to convert millions of pounds of roasted coffee-bean waste into commercial fertilizer. Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 3/28/17

Innovative 'Agrihood' Project Helping to Feed, Revitalize Detroit
The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop an abandoned three-story apartment complex in Detroit into a community center that will feature community kitchens and a healthy food cafe to complement its adjacent gardens, orchard and cistern. MUFI co-founder Tyson Gersh says the group plans "to show proof of concept that the agrihood model can in fact work, and work very well, in an urban setting." Source: Sustainable Brands, 3/24/17

Climate change is more than a tech problem, so we need more than a tech solution
Climate change mitigation requires systemic social change, not just technological optimism. Source: Ensia, 3/20/17

How new technologies are shrinking wastewater's hefty carbon footprint
Communities looking to reduce fossil fuel use find opportunity in energy-hogging treatment plants. Source: Ensia, 3/27/17

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
University of Minnesota researchers invent nano-sponge to soak up pollution
Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported recently that they have developed a way to use one of the most common of all cleaning tools to remove one of the most toxic and widespread pollutants from contaminated water. Their breakthrough: They permeate the sponge with the natural element selenium by growing it inside from the atom level on up. Soak the sponge in contaminated water, the mercury binds with the selenium, and the water is essentially purified. Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 3/24/17

Nike, Circular Economy Firm Miniwiz Develop Sustainable Packaging from Trash
Nike has developed new sustainable packaging for its shoes, working in collaboration with Arthur Huang, the CEO and founder of Taiwanese firm Miniwiz, which recycles consumer and industrial waste into new products.

The lightweight packaging is made entirely of post-consumer materials such as milk and orange juice containers, and morning coffee lids. The box is produced from a single process Polypropylene with no added chemicals. The modular design allows it to be used as a stackable, interlocking component of a product display or storage system, Nike says. Source: Environmental Leader, 3/27/17

Michigan reaches deal with Flint to replace 18,000 lead-tainted water lines
Michigan and the city of Flint agreed Monday to replace thousands of home water lines under a sweeping deal to settle a lawsuit by residents over lead-contaminated water in the struggling community. Source: Chicago Tribune, 3/27/17

Google's Street View Cars Are Helping Scientists Hunt Down Natural Gas and Methane Leaks
Google Earth's Street View cars are being used for more than just maps: scientists have equipped them with pollution trackers so they can help spot natural gas leaks. Source: Futurism, 3/28/17

Yoga pants, fleece jackets and the microplastics dilemma
No clothing brand intended for their synthetic products to be discharged into the environment in the former of tiny bits of plastic. Now that they know, they must step up and tackle the problem. Source: GreenBiz, 3/28/17

How the Water Industry Learned to Embrace Data
The water industry is using digital technologies and analytics to derive more value from its physical assets, but, like all businesses, it has faced challenges when trying to transform the roles and mindsets of their employees and their internal- and customer-facing processes. Employees, for example, weren't quick to change old habits, and, when there were IT problems, many began to question the data. But those that have managed to integrate these elements -- People, Processes, and Technology -- have created more than data; they've also created value for their enterprises and society. Source: Harvard Business Review, 3/27/17

Monday, March 27, 2017
Large Venues Clamp Down on Food Waste
Large venues and institutions, from school cafeterias to airports, are working to tackle food waste. Managers at these venues realize that by diverting much of the massive volumes that are generated daily, or by preventing food waste in the first place, they can have an enormous impact on the environment while helping their bottom lines. Source: Waste360, 3/27/17

Thursday, March 23, 2017
New flame retardant threat documented in Great Lakes
A flame retardant has been discovered in sediment of the Great Lakes for the first time, and researchers say it may be here to stay.

Researchers sampled sediment from lakes Michigan, Ontario and Superior to track organophosphate esters, a group of chemicals that are used as flame retardants. All three locations showed that the concentration of one of them--TCPP--has increased rapidly since 2000. It has replaced a more toxic flame retardant that was phased out. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 3/21/17

Cities Throw Shade at Rising Heat
To cool the urban heat islands that they've become, cities are planting trees and more trees. Source: Stateline, 3/23/17

Stone Brews 'Toilet' Beer Made from Recycled Wastewater
Maybe it's because people know alcohol kills germs. Or maybe it's because people will drink a beer under any conditions. But beer has been at the forefront of convincing people that drinking recycled sewage water isn't something to turn your nose up at -- unless you're trying to better appreciate the hoppy aroma. And last week, the Stone Brewery became one of the largest names to lend its support to the use of recycled wastewater. Source: Food & Wine, 3/21/17

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Circular water companies make a splash heard 'round the world
Apana, Shell and Veolia use circular principles to retain and recycle water used in farming, fracking and washing machines. Source: GreenBiz, 3/22/17

Compelling new data on why we shouldn't waste wastewater
In the face of shortages, water recycling and reuse strategies may be necessary to ensure business continuity. Source: GreenBiz, 3/22/17

Combined heat and power could boost greenhouse emissions
At first glance, combined heat and power (CHP) plants sound ideal. Heat that would otherwise go to waste can drive industrial processes or heat buildings. And as gas prices fall and electricity prices rise, installing CHP is becoming more attractive to businesses to help keep energy costs down. But now a study shows that in some locations increasing CHP could boost greenhouse-gas emissions. Source: EnvironmentalResearchWeb, 3/22/17

Ford Water-Saving Technologies Reduced Usage by 13 Million Gallons
Water-saving technologies at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant, implemented toward the end of 2016, helped the facility reduce water usage by 13 million gallons last year, and the automaker expects to that number to be significantly higher in 2017 after a full year of use. Source: Environmental Leader, 3/22/17

WWF, AHLA, Rockefeller Foundation Band Together to Tackle Hotel Food Waste
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), has launched a series of pilot projects aimed at further reducing food waste in the hotel industry. Source: Waste360, 3/22/17

Raising the Bar on Reuse, Recycling, Remanufacturing
A 13th institute is the newest addition to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) five-year-old Manufacturing USA program whose goal is to improve U.S. manufacturing competitiveness by developing innovative advanced manufacturing technologies while also incorporating energy-reduction and sustainability principles.

The newest institute, Reducing Embodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE for short), is focused on key industrial platform technologies that will dramatically reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production. According to DOE, REMADE could reduce energy usage in the U.S. manufacturing sector by up to 6%, saving billions in energy costs. Source: ASME, March 2017

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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