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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
BASF, Solazyme launch algal-derived betaine surfactant
BASF and Solazyme have announced the launch of the first commercial surfactant derived from microalgae oil, a high performance algal betaine for use in home and personal care applications. Commercialized by BASF under the trade name Dehyton AO 45, algal betaine is a betaine surfactant made from renewable microalgae oil. Source: Algae Industry Magazine, 7/29/15

Turning coffee, mango and cashew waste into valuable resources
Byproducts from fruit drying, cashew milling and coffee production have traditionally been dificult to deal with but new technologies are turning them into heat, gas, and electricity. Source: The Guardian, 7/29/15

Laundry Practices and Water Conservation
Commercial laundry products are typically made from a combination of chemicals that may include surfactants, bleaching agents, and enzymes intended to remove dirt from textiles and fragrance to add a "clean" scent. Dryer sheets are infused with strong fragrances. While some chemicals common in laundry products are known skin irritants, the extent of the environmental and health impacts from laundry detergent and dryer sheets is not fully understood. Complicating matters further, manufacturers are not required to disclose their ingredients. A 2011 study found that scented laundry products emit VOCs including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene. Unscented environmentally friendly laundry products are safer alternatives to traditional laundry products. Source: National Park Service Commercial Services, 7/28/15

Which energy efficiency policies saved the most last year?
ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadal evaluates which energy efficiency policies saved the most money in 2014. Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
EPEAT: Moving the Electronics Market Toward Green Standards
Environmental standards often aren't the first thing we think about when hunting for a new computer. We may check to see if it's well made, whether it uses a lot of energy to run and whether the manufacturer has a good rep. But oftentimes (probably too often), the bells and whistles win out over whether the apparatus was made with environmental concerns in mind. It turns out that many companies are considering environmental design qualities anyway -- the reduction in environmental harmful emissions, the decrease in exposure to toxic substances like mercury and the use of substances that don't end up in landfills -- thanks to a set of privately designed standards. They are called EPEAT, or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and they serve as the Green Electronics Council's gold standard for environmentally preferable electronics. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/28/15

At the Core of Sustainable Electronics
There's rightfully much ado about the climate -- from extreme weather events, severe droughts and water crises to fossil fuels and the race to renewables. However, there's far too little talk about electronics and their role in environmental ecosystems. Source: Environmental Leader, 7/27/15

Montreal's impressive food recovery program will expand throughout Quebec
A partnership between Moisson Montreal and the largest grocery chains in the province will continue to salvage hundreds of tons of food that would otherwise be discarded. Source: Treehugger, 7/28/15

Monday, July 27, 2015
Minnesota rain gardens go big to fight pollution, reuse water
Many Minnesota cities use rain gardens and other "green infrastructure" now to keep stormwater from polluting nearby lakes and rivers. But they're often small, neighborhood efforts. Inver Grove Heights, however, is putting that stormwater science to use on a massive scale at Argenta Hills, and it's attracting national attention. Source: Minnesota Public Radio, 7/27/15

The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry
With water in ever-shorter supply in drought-ravaged California, Silicon Valley data centers are trying to reduce their needs for cooling. Source: The Guardian, 7/20/15

Thursday, July 23, 2015
HP to Power Texas Data Centers With Wind Energy
For years, clean energy developers could look to only a small handful of corporations as project partners or customers for their power. Mostly, there was Google, and a few other high-tech companies that worked directly with wind and solar developers to help green their energy use. Now, that appears to be changing. On Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard announced a 12-year contract to buy 112 megawatts from a wind farm that SunEdison is expanding in Texas. That is enough, HP said, to operate its data centers there, the equivalent of powering 42,600 homes each year. The deal follows a flurry of other recent agreements. Source: The New York Times, 7/21/15

Processors say Illinois law ignores CRT recycling options
An industry group has criticized a recently signed bill modifying the e-scrap law in Illinois, saying the state failed to account for existing recycling outlets for CRT glass. In a letter sent to the Illinois EPA on July 20, a group consisting of 13 electronics recycling companies, including some of the industry's most prominent, argues House Bill 1455 assumes "CRT glass is not recyclable." Information from regional glass processors shows "this is not the case," the group said. The following companies signed onto the letter: AVA Recycling, Cascade Asset Management, CJD E-Cycling, Com2 Recycling Solutions, Comprenew, ECS Refining, Electronic Recyclers International, E-Scrap Technologies, Genesis Electronics Recycling, Global Environmental Services, Novotec, Sims Recycling Solutions and Supply-Chain Services. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/23/15

Recycling containers added in forest preserves
Source: Chicago Daily Herald

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Federal court upholds EPA pollutant rule
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule on emissions of certain toxic air pollutants at manufacturing plants. Source: The Hill, 7/22/15

Michigan company using algae to reduce use of livestock antibiotics
While most people think of algae as a water problem, a Michigan company got its start designing technology that uses algae to filter wastewater. Current State talks to Geoff Horst, CEO of Algal Scientific, who was was a PhD student in the Fisheries and Wildlife Department at Michigan State University when he started the biotech company. Source: Great Lakes Echo, 7/22/15

Programmed Polymers Degradation for Base Material Reuse
Plastic made from plant sugars that you can break down with light and reuse over and over again? That's the subject of new research from presented at this year's Green Chemistry Conference. Source: Decoded Science, 7/16/15

EPA introduces new Safer Choice labels and recognizes five Chicago area partners
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman highlighted the benefits of the Agency's new Safer Choice label and congratulated five Chicago area Safer Choice award-winners at an event at the Loyola University Chicago Searle Biodiesel Lab. Source: U.S. EPA, 7/21/15

Levi's Expands Recycling Initiative
Levi Strauss & Co. has expanded its clothing recycling initiative to all Levi's mainline and outlet stores in the US. Source: Environmental Leader, 7/22/15

Net positive: Revolution, not evolution
A novel concept has been doing the rounds of the sustainability world in the last few years and gradually building momentum: "net positive," or the idea of a company leaving the world a better place than it found it. Source: GreenBiz, 7/21/15

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