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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

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

Monday, April 27, 2015
3p Weekend: 10 Companies That Are Rethinking Food Waste
We have a long way to go before we fully address the food waste problem, but a select few companies are taking innovative approaches to cut those figures down to size. From small startups to major multinationals, this week Triple Pundit tips their hats to 10 companies that are rethinking food waste. Source: Triple Pundit, 4/24/15

Indiana wind power could get boost from new EPA rules
Credit the ice ages for making Indiana a good place to turn wind into electricity. All that glacial action scoured flat the northern half of the state and sculpted the perfect terrain for wind turbines. A few million years later, the Environmental Protection Agency is about to use regulatory fiat to make the state even more attractive to industrial windmills. Source: Indianapolis Star, 4/27/15

Best Buy, LG, EPA Flip Out On 'Ellen;' EPA Encourages Replacement Sales
A trio of appliance partners recently kicked off a new energy conservation campaign on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." In observation of Earth Day, Best Buy, LG Electronics USA and the U.S. Environmental Agency (EPA) were invited to launch the latter's new "Flip Your Fridge" initiative on the comedienne's daytime talk show. The Energy Star effort encourages consumers to responsibly recycle their old, power-thirsty refrigerators and upgrade to energy-efficient new ones. Source: TWICE (This Week in Consumer Electronics), 4/24/15

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senior White House Advisor Brian Deese Announce Partnerships with Farmers and Ranchers to Address Climate Change
In a speech at Michigan State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack laid out a comprehensive approach to partner with agricultural producers to address the threat of climate change. Building on the creation of USDA's Climate Hubs last year, the new initiatives will utilize voluntary, incentive-based conservation, forestry, and energy programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration and expand renewable energy production in the agricultural and forestry sectors. Through these efforts, USDA expects to reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by over 120 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) per year -- about 2 percent of economy-wide net greenhouse emissions -- by 2025. That's the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road, or the emissions produced by powering nearly 11 million homes last year. Source: USDA, 4/23/15

Here's how Method's new Chicago factory went green -- and how much it cost
When a company builds its reputation on making "green" products, the first factory of its own had better be equally green. That's why Method Products, a maker of eco-friendly soaps and cleaning products, pursued the highest level of LEED certification--Platinum--from the U.S. Green Building Council for its Pullman plant. Source: Crain's Chicago Business, 4/25/15

How water offsets can fix the drought (and save energy)
Artificial pricing schemes have misaligned urban and agricultural water users. Investing in offsets to help reconcile that value gap could help. Source: GreenBiz, 4/24/15

CDP's supply chain program: Now $2 trillion plus in purchasing power
As big companies are pushed to disclose more information about their carbon footprints, they are pressing suppliers -- thousands of them -- to do the same. Source: GreenBiz, 4/27/15

The art and science of supply-chain transparency
When it comes to supply chains, ignorance is no longer bliss -- it's a liability. Source: GreenBiz, 4/27/15

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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