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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Feds to require climate change plans for states seeking disaster relief
A new Federal Emergency Management Agency policy requiring states to address climate change before they can become eligible for grant funding is drawing fire from congressional Republicans. Source: The Hill, 5/5/15

Free e-waste recycling too good to be true?
Since Level 3 Recycle opened in Brooklyn two months ago, company owner Chris Fede has spread the word about his firm's free e-waste recycling. While many recyclers charge to handle electronics, others don't even take the items, because doing so costs too much. Is providing free recycling of electronic waste even a sustainable practice? Fede hopes so. If many other companies cannot recycle electronics for free, it's hard for some people to see how Level 3 Recycle can. Source: Waste Dive, 5/4/15

Friday, May 1, 2015
Hotels Embrace Sustainability to Lure Guests and Cut Costs
Hotels have three reasons to pay attention to conservation, according to Steve Jennings, lead consultant for hotels and resorts in the United States at Deloitte: corporate sustainability; better expense management; and consumer interest. Source: New York Times, 4/27/15

University of IL: New campus recycling bins aim to bring waste awareness
In an effort to make campus more eco-friendly and closer to a zero-waste initiative, 20 new recycling bins with standardized signage were installed on the Quad this month, making 30 total recycling/landfill stations. The project was completed by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). According to the project's leader Bart Bartels, technical assistance engineer at ISTC, the center makes recommendations and completes projects aiming to reduce waste emissions on campus. This zero-waste initiative is part of the goal of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), the University's mission to make campus carbon neutral by 2050. Source: The Daily Illini, 4/30/15

A sustainable gem: The sixth Naturally Illinois Expo
This article provides an overview of the Prairie Research Institute's Naturally Illinois Expo, and includes quotes from ISTC's Bart Bartels, Beth Meschewski, and Nancy Holm. It also provides information about the Expo being a zero waste event. Source: The Daily Illini, 4/16/15

Is the UN underestimating US e-scrap activity?
A United Nations-backed study on global e-scrap generation and recovery suggests the U.S. recycling rate for end-of-life electronics and appliances sits at about 15 percent. An analysis of the method used to arrive at that figure, however, raises questions about its accuracy. Billed as "the first comprehensive assessment" of e-scrap volumes throughout the world, the United Nations University-authored Global E-Waste Monitor 2014 estimates 7.8 million tons of end-of-life electronics and appliances entered the U.S. waste stream in 2014. Of that total, the study states, 1.1. millions tons were recovered, resulting in a recovery rate just under 15 percent. Media coverage in the study's wake has painted the U.S and China as the top "dumping" countries in the world. In announcing the release of the study, the United Nations University (UNU) largely echoed that reading of the data, noting "just two countries -- the U.S. and China -- discarded nearly one-third of the world's e-waste in 2014."A closer look at the data reveals while electronics and appliances were included in the study's estimate of U.S. generation of discarded material, only electronics were counted toward the recovery total. In other words, the study used one material classification for the numerator in determining the U.S. recovery rate and a starkly different one for the denominator. The result is a recovery rate that may significantly understate the country's e-scrap activity. Source: Resource Recycling, 4/30/15

Can salt water quench our growing thirst?
An increasingly water-stressed world takes a fresh look at desalination. Source: GreenBiz, 4/28/15

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Sewer brewers: Oregon beer-makers challenged to use wastewater in recipes
Treated sewer water is the star ingredient in Portland-area home brewer competition to raise awareness on reusing vital resource. Source: The Guardian, 4/29/15

How one California restaurant is dealing with the drought
An innovative chef has come up with an alternative dishwashing procedure that cuts his kitchen's water usage by 80 percent. Source: Restaurant-Hospitality, 4/29/15

ISO 14001 Revision Nears Completion
The working group revising the international environmental management systems standard ISO 14001 has finalized the technical requirements of the new standard. Source: Environmental Leader, 4/30/15

Sustainable business and the value of values
Eco-efficiency is table stakes. What separates the leaders from the laggards is a core set of values. This is the latest installment in a regular series of conversations with William McDonough (@billmcdonough), designer, architect, author and entrepreneur. Source: GreenBiz, 4/30/15

Global E-Waste Volume Hits New Peak in 2014: UNU Report
The amount of global e-waste -- discarded electrical and electronic equipment -- reached 41.8 million tonnes in 2014, according to a new United Nations University report. Source: United Nations University, 4/20/15

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The State of Green Electronics: Where We Are Now
The electronics of tomorrow hold both great technological promise and the potential for environmental peril. Things like 3-D printers, wearables, converged devices and the cloud will continue to revolutionize how we interact with the world and with one another. Underlying that innovation are new materials, new design challenges, new supply chain concerns, and new questions about disposal and extended life. Each of these topics offers an opportunity for environmental success. And each of them must address the new consumers and regions that are becoming reliant upon these devices. Source: Triple Pundit, 4/29/15

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Materiality matters: why don't companies have to disclose sustainability risk?
Although more companies are disclosing sustainability information, there are few standards and the reporting is often vague and subjective. Source: GreenBiz, 4/28/15

The business case for investments in water efficiency
The U.S. has experienced a renaissance in energy efficiency investment over the past decade, spurred by a combination of rising energy prices, greater public awareness of climate change and a thriving ecosystem of capital providers, government programs and technical solutions. Now it's time to pursue a similar level of investment in water. Source: GreenBiz, 4/28/15

Sprint Names Winners in Upcycled Smartphone Contest
Sprint, in conjunction with Brightstar Corp. and HOBI International, has announced the winner of its inaugural Smartphone Encore Challenge, a contest for Net Impact college students to find profitable and innovative ways to repurpose old smartphones or their components. The winning team from the University of California, Berkeley, created TouchCart, a "smart" grocery cart that aims to transform traditional shopping carts into multi-purpose shopping assistants, providing savings for grocery stores and an improved shopping experience for customers. Two teams were selected as runners-up in the challenge. The first, a team of two MBA students led by Sreekanth Krishnakumar from Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business, converts old smartphones into onboard monitoring devices for vehicles. The StreetSmart device calculates automobile insurance premiums based on individual driving behaviors, provides feedback and financial incentives for users to adopt better driving practices, and serves as a black box recorder that can be reviewed in case of accidents. The second runner-up is a team of three led by Biplab Deka, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Their entry, Neo, transforms pre-owned smartphones into affordable computers for budding programmers. The device would help address the "digital divide" by providing computer access to school-aged children who otherwise would not be able to take advantage of programming tools. Source: Sprint via Business Wire, 4/27/15

Inside look: Method brings green manufacturing to Chicago
It might make for good headlines now, but Adam Lowry didn't set out to earn a LEED Platinum designation for Method Home's first U.S. manufacturing plant. His team just wanted to build something relevant that lived up to the company's ideals. Source: GreenBiz, 4/28/15

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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