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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Protect Workers From Harmful Chemicals, Advocates Urge EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency should use the new authorities under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act to protect workers and other at-risk groups, advocates say. Source: Bloomberg News, 8/24/16

Old iPhones Could Go For The Gold At The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be maybe just a little more hard-earned than usual: The Japanese organizers are hoping to source the medals from e-waste, stripping gold, silver, and bronze from old gadgets and cellphones. Source: Fast Company, 8/24/16

Study: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions
A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the widely held assumption that biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon neutral. Source: University of Michigan, 8/25/16

Edible food packaging made from milk proteins
At the grocery store, most foods--meats, breads, cheeses, snacks--come wrapped in plastic packaging. Not only does this create a lot of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste, but thin plastic films are not great at preventing spoilage. And some plastics are suspected of leaching potentially harmful compounds into food. To address these issues, scientists are now developing a packaging film made of milk proteins--and it is even edible. Source: American Chemical Society, 8/21/16

'Sporks in space': Bothell firm brings recycling to final frontier
Can recycling be successfully launched in outer space? Tethers Unlimited, Inc., a Bothell-based aerospace technology company, plans to find out when its recycling/3D printing system is tested aboard the International Space Station. The company has been awarded a NASA contract to develop and deliver a Positrusion Recycler to sterilize and recycle plastic waste such as packaging materials, utensils, trays and food storage containers into high-quality 3D filament. Dirty plastic dinnerware will ultimately be turned into satellite components, replacement parts, and astronaut tools via a high-quality 3D printer, creating the first "closed-cycle" in-space manufacturing system. Source: The Herald Business Journal, 8/24/16

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
A surprising simple solution to bad indoor air quality: potted plants
Research being presented this week to the American Chemical Society suggests houseplants might offer a way to clear pollutants from indoor air. Source: Washington Post, 8/24/16

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Study helps map path to waste reduction in national parks
National parks welcome more than 300 million visitors each year, but less than half of those people actually separate their recyclables from their trash before leaving. That is one of the findings in the Subaru National Park Survey, conducted in partnership with National Parks Conservation Association. The research ties into this year's celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service (NPS). Source: Resource Recycling, 8/23/16

IL: New Law Encourages Schools to Donate Food
For the past year SCARCE Director Kay McKeen worked with Jennifer Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council to get a state-level bill written and signed into law that would prohibit any language in school food-service contracts that prevented donation of leftover food items. The Food Donation for Schools and Public Agencies bill was signed by Gov. Rauner on July 15, 2016 and took effect immediately. Source: SCARCE, 8/22/16

The water-energy nexus is not what you expect
While saving water does save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there are other benefits, too. Source: GreenBiz, 8/23/16

Why manufacturing will make or break the future of energy
Forget your MakerBot. The Department of Energy has a plan for a new production paradigm. Source: GreenBiz, 8/23/16

Lead pollution forcing 1,000 Indiana residents from homes
More than 1,000 residents of a northwest Indiana public housing complex have been in a state of panic and uncertainty since authorities informed them last month that their homes must be destroyed because of serious lead contamination. Source: Indianapolis Star, 8/22/16

Samsung to Sell High-end Refurbished Cell Phones
Wouldn't it be great to own a Galaxy S or Galaxy Note 7 with a much lower price tag and environmental impact? According to Reuters, Samsung is planning to launch a program that will refurbish premium smartphones, offering refurbished versions for a lower cost. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/23/16

Tokyo's Olympic medals might be made from discarded smartphones
Organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo aim to produce gold, silver, and bronze medals from the metals found in discarded smartphones and other electronics, according to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review. As the business journal reports, Olympic organizers, government officials, and executives first discussed the plan during a June meeting organized by a Japanese NGO. The hope is that such a scheme would help raise awareness around so-called "e-waste," though Japan would need to implement a more comprehensive system for collecting discarded electronics. Source: The Verge, 8/22/16

Monday, August 22, 2016
Next Steps on New EPA Toxics Rule Implementation Reinforce the Need to Engage
The passage of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act ("2016 TSCA Amendments") was a rare bipartisan success story. However, the August 9-10th Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") stakeholder public comment meetings on the risk evaluation and prioritization rules that will implement the new law were a sobering counterpoint. They provided a stark reminder that there are still dueling, and in some cases dramatically different, interpretations of the statute and the appropriate policies that should be adopted to put in place under the Toxic Substances Control Act ("TSCA") moving forward. Source: JD Supra Business Advisor, 8/19/16

Sustainable Procurement Standard Coming Soon
ISO 20400, Sustainable procurement -- Guidance, has just reached a second draft international standard stage, meaning interested parties can submit feedback via their ISO member on the draft before final publication in 2017. Source: Environmental Leader, 8/22/16

Thursday, August 18, 2016
People would buy green products -- if only e-commerce showed them how
Given the choice to go green when making purchases online, a lot of people would follow through, new research suggests. They just need companies to provide them with enough information to do so. Source: Washington Post, 8/15/16

Capturing Rainwater Will Save GM Plant Millions of Dollars
A new project to capture stormwater at GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly -- home of the Chevrolet Volt -- is slated to save the plant nearly $2 million every year. The initiative, two years in the making, now allows the plant to reuse rainwater for manufacturing processes throughout the 4 million square foot facility. Source: General Motors Green, 8/10/16

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