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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Garbage in, energy out: creating biofuel from plastic waste
An Australian startup has found a way to transform end-of-life plastics into bio-crude fuel. But is this a sustainable solution or just pollution displacement? Source: The Guardian, 6/20/16

The Circuit: Tracking America's Electronic Waste
This international undercover investigation reveals what really happens to America's discarded TVs, phones and computers. Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting, 6/1/16

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Why Tech Companies Design Products With Their Destruction in Mind
Apple introduced a piece of technology recently that will likely never be used by any consumer. Instead, it kind of cleans up after them: a robot that breaks down iPhones for recycling. The company spent more than three years building Liam, of which there are currently two. Each carefully separates iPhone components such as the camera module, SIM card trays, screws and batteries. Instead of tossing the whole device into a shredder--the most common form of disposal--Liam separates materials so they can be recycled more efficiently. Other electronics makers take a different recycling approach, designing products that simplify disassembly by replacing glue and screws with parts that snap together, for instance. Some also have reduced the variety of plastics used and avoid mercury and other hazardous materials that can complicate disposal. It's all part of the electronics industry's efforts to undo a problem of its own making. The technological advances that replaced typewriters with personal computers, flip phones with smartphones and clunky TVs with flat-screen displays also spawned the consumer expectation that today's cutting-edge product will become obsolete in a few years. The constant churn of new devices has contributed to an increase in electronic waste, some of which ends up in developing nations where local residents must deal with the health and environmental risks. Source: The Wall Street Journal

Monday, June 13, 2016
Hard-Pressed Rust Belt Cities Go Green to Aid Urban Revival
Gary, Indiana is joining Detroit and other fading U.S. industrial centers in an effort to turn abandoned neighborhoods and factory sites into gardens, parks, and forests. In addition to the environmental benefits, these greening initiatives may help catalyze an economic recovery. Source: Yale e360, 5/31/16

Friday, June 10, 2016
Addition of HBCD Category to TRI List Proposed Rule
EPA is proposing a rule that would add a hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) category to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list of reportable chemicals with a 100-pound reporting threshold. HBCD is a brominated flame retardant found in the environment, in wildlife, and in humans. Source: U.S. EPA, 6/2/16

Thursday, June 9, 2016
HOBI International advises team effort to extend life of mobile devices
HOBI International Inc., an electronics recycling company based in Batavia, Illinois, says life span extension of personal electronics and mobile devices can best be achieved if e-recyclers receive the assistance and cooperation they need from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and legislators. The major legislative challenge is kill-switch legislation, according to HOBI. Kill switches are intended to reduce the theft of mobile devices by rendering them inoperable. However, they also make it nearly impossible to repair and refurbish otherwise working mobile devices that were never stolen or lost, reducing them to e-scrap. Another problem is the restriction imposed by OEMs on who can buy spare parts, such as glass and casings, to repair devices, HOBI says. Source: Resource Recycling, 6/8/16

DeKalb County [IL] electronics recycling collections cancelled
The DeKalb County Health Department announced Thursday that all electronics recycling collections throughout DeKalb County have been suspended after a vendor said it would no longer be able to service the county's five monthly drop-off sites in DeKalb, Sandwich, Sycamore, Waterman and Shabbona. Source: Daily Chronicle via the MidWeek, 6/8/16

Peotone [IL] Agrees To Host Will County Residential Electronics Recycling Site
Will County residents could see the addition of a much-needed electronics recycling center in Peotone, beginning in July. The Peotone Board of Trustees has approved an intergovernmental agreement with the county that would allow the village to "host and maintain a site to collect electronics from Will County residents." The collection site would be located near the police station at 208 E. Main Street. Days and hours of operation are to be determined, but once finalized, will be posted on the village website and the police department website, according to Village President Steve Cross. With all but one county electronics recycling drop-off site closed, Cross noted, having one in Peotone will make it easier for residents to dispose of unwanted and outdated TVs, monitors, computers, cameras, scanners, microwave ovens, telephones, vacuums, copy machines and more. Source: The Vedette Online, 6/9/16

Another federal bill to limit e-scrap exports may be on the way
An industry coalition that pushed for a national ban on sending e-scrap abroad is now looking for legislators to introduce a bill to Congress that would focus on the dangers of counterfeit material. The Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act, currently in draft form, represents a departure from past efforts to outright ban the export of e-scrap by spelling out a variety of exemptions. The bill proposal, which was announced by the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER), would ban the export of non-tested, used whole devices. Meanwhile, it would permit the export of "testing, working electronics" destined for reuse abroad as well as devices that have been destroyed through shredding and dismantling and prepared for recycling operations overseas. The possiblie connection between exported e-scrap and counterfeit goods has become a national story of late. The fear is that parts from exported, non-working devices could be used in the production of counterfeit electronic components in China and elsewhere. There is a chance those electronics could make their way back into equipment that is integral to national safety and security and increase the chance of such equipment malfunctioning. Source: Resource Recycling, 6/9/16

Chemical Safety Rules Pass Congress. What's Next for Manufacturers?
The US Senate late Tuesday night approved a measure to update the 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, requiring new testing and regulation of thousands of chemicals used in everything from cleaning products to paint thinners and clothing.

The Senate's passage of the new chemical safety rules, which followed the US House's final approval late last month, was largely praised by industry and environmental groups. Source: Environmental Leader, 6/9/16

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