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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Introducing handprinting: the good you do minus your footprint
Dassault Systemes, Eaton Corp., Johnson & Johnson and others have developed a method for calculating the good an organization does through influencing its supply chain and more. Source: GreenBiz, 2/16/15

Reporting Pollution Prevention to TRI [Video]
Video for Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting facilities on the benefits of reporting pollution prevention information to TRI, with perspectives from industry and EPA. Source: EPA via YouTube, 2/15/15

Friday, February 13, 2015
IL: Electronics recycling centers dwindling
Electronics recycling may become as scarce as a Beta video player by this summer, according to some environmentalists. After three years of banning electronics from landfills, Illinois' recycling program may be a victim of its success and what some see as the built-in obsolescence of electronics. The 2012 Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act banned 17 electronic items from trash dumps and required manufacturers to recycle a certain amount of unwanted items based on a rather convoluted formula. But once manufacturers met the annual goals, they no longer had to pay recycling firms to process the goods. So recyclers started to charge their customers, many of which are local governments like Orland Township, or they went out of business. The state's formula could be debated in the legislature this year because some legislators want to require electonics manufacturers to recycle more. If they don't, recycling could shift to consumers or to local governments that operate recycling sites. Source: Chicago Tribune, 2/9/15

Tesla plans a home battery pack to help keep the lights on
Tesla's crusade against fossil fuels could soon hit home with a battery-powered energy pack. The company plans to start producing a home battery within six months, Bloomberg reports, and will reveal more details in the next month or two. One obvious application would be a source for backup power, replacing conventional fuel-powered generators. The upcoming Toyota Mirai hydrogen-powered car can also function as a backup power source for a house. But the Tesla pack could also help shift energy usage to reduce peak demand on the electric grid, thereby cutting down on energy bills. In an earnings call, Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel hinted at strong interest from utility companies for that very reason. Source: PC World, 2/12/15

Volkswagen to Invest $10 Million in U.S. EV Charging Infrastructure
It took 50 years from the time the first gas stations cropped up until a nationwide network of gasoline and diesel filling stations emerged. Despite technological, economic and political obstacles, building out a nationwide web of electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations and supporting infrastructure is likely to emerge in far less time, perhaps as little as two decades. On Jan. 23, two of the world's largest automakers -- Volkswagen and BMW -- announced they are teaming up with ChargePoint to build out EV fast-charging station corridors on the U.S. East and West coasts. The project is the largest and most ambitious since Tesla announced plans to build out a cross-country chain of EV charging stations back in late 2012. Source: Triple Pundit, 2/13/15

Apple Invests $3 Billion in Solar Energy
Apple is going all-in on solar energy, to tune of nearly $3 billion for solar facilities in California and Arizona. First, the company this week said it will partner with First Solar on a 2,900-acre solar farm in Monterey County, California. Apple has committed $848 million for clean energy from the California Flats solar farm, First Solar said in a press release. Apple is also making a big renewable energy splash involving its data centers, which use massive amounts of power. Earlier this month the company said a new data center in Arizona will be powered entirely by renewable energy, most of which will come from a new local solar farm. Apple said it will invest about $2 billion for the data center, which will produce 70 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power more than 14,500 Arizona homes. Source: Triple Pundit, 2/13/15

Thursday, February 12, 2015
New Release: Second Nature Sustainability Sit-Downs Video #4
This week's video features Tim Carter, President of Second Nature, discussing higher education's role in making a sustainability 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, 2/12/15

Why eliminating landfill waste makes sound business sense
Unilever has achieved zero non-hazardous waste to landfill ahead of its target date, and has created jobs and reduced costs in the process. Source: The Guardian, 2/12/15

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
How one bacterium could help ease reliance on food crops for biofuel
A lowly bacterium, once sidelined in biofuel production, may help reduce production costs in converting crop residue and other non-crop plants into fuel. Source: Christian Science Monitor, 2/2/15

Michigan's bald eagles full of flame retardants
Michigan's bald eagles are among the most contaminated birds on the planet when it comes to phased-out flame retardant chemicals in their livers, according to new research. Source: Environmental Health News, 2/9/15

Ecolab brings solar to Twin Cities, hoping the Midwest sees the light
Ecolab is signing up to be an anchor tenant -- not in a mall, but in community solar gardens in Minnesota. Headquartered in St. Paul, the Fortune 500 company will run completely on solar in Minnesota by purchasing space at solar gardens being built by SunEdison. Source: GreenBiz, 2/9/15

Other Environmental News

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