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Environmental News

Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Thursday, September 13, 2018
GVSU researchers investigate biological, chemical effects of microplastics
An international group of scientists led by a pair of Grand Valley researchers is exploring the biological and chemical impact of microplastics in a West Michigan lake.

Alan Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting director of Grand Valley's Annis Water Resources Institute, is leading an exploratory research study to find out what kinds of toxic chemicals and bacteria are attracted to tiny pieces of plastic that are increasingly being found in lakes and oceans worldwide.

Steinman is assisted in his research by Maggie Oudsema, research assistant in his lab at AWRI. Chemical analysis for the project is being completed by John Scott, senior analytical chemist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Source: Grand Valley State University, 9/12/18

Stains That Won't Wash Away
Ah, dish soap. It gives that satisfying sparkle, but pollutes our waterways. What's a clean freak to do? Anita Clifton reports. Source: Q Magazine, 6/6/18

Tuesday, September 11, 2018
H&M Foundation opens 'Garment-to-Garment' recycling plant in circular fashion drive
Fashion retailer H&M's charitable arm, the H&M Foundation, has this week opened a hydrothermal textile recycling plant as the company strives to become "truly circular" by 2030. Source:, 9/7/18

1st Giant Food Store Attains Zero-Waste Status
Giant Food Stores LLC's Cleona, Pa., store has become the first in the Ahold Delhaize USA chain to reach zero-waste status. Source: Progressive Grocer, 9/10/18

Coca-Cola CEO sees solutions in plastic recycling, sugar reduction
As a leader in the soft drink industry, the Coca-Cola Co. understandably looks for ways to reduce sugar. James Robert B. Quincey, president and chief executive officer, also explained how the handling of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles could help Coca-Cola solve plastic environmental problems. Source: Food Business News, 9/10/18

Turning waste into power: the plastic to fuel projects
Plastic to fuel projects are beginning to gain traction in the energy industry, with rising awareness of the prolific environmental damage caused by single-use plastics and people's insufficient recycling habits leading researchers to turn to alternative disposal methods for our mounting plastic output. Research by ISTC scientists BK Sharma and Kishore Rajagopalan is featured in the article. Source: Power Technology, 9/11/18

Packaging Standards Across Supply Chain Delivers Financial, Ethical Value
Switched-on brands are becoming ever more aware of the importance of packaging when it comes to consumer experience. Far too few, however, have yet to address the extraordinary packaging inefficiencies that exist throughout the supply chain. Where is the consistency in packaging types -- both material and size -- that can not only enforce sustainability and ethical standards but also enable cost saving optimization of pallets, containers and warehouse space? Source: Environmental Leader, 9/6/18

Lego Wants to Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks (Without Anyone Noticing)
Lego wants to eliminate its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and build its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030. Source: New York Times, 8/31/18

Friday, September 7, 2018
To find hacks for greening your lab, start with the freezer
Temperature adjustments are only one way to reduce a lab's environmental footprint, but change takes a little outside-the-box thinking Source: Chemical & Engineering News, 09/01/18

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
FOCUS-Unilever confronts the 'chairdrobe' as consumers rethink laundry
For decades, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, the industry leader that created the best-selling brand, Tide, have pitched new and improved laundry detergents and fabric softeners, primarily to women using washing machines. But millennials are less loyal to traditional brands and have new demands, including that products save time and be environmentally sustainable. Source: Reuters, 9/5/18

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How the Makers of M&M's Source Renewable Energy
EDF recently heard from Mars, Incorporated's chief procurement and sustainability officer, Barry Parkin, about the company's plan to tackle its ambitious climate goals in an EDF+Business "Business of Sustainability" podcast. Their Sustainable in a Generation plan details Mars' commitment to procure 100 percent renewable energy. Mars is plowing full speed ahead toward these goals and recently, Mars Australia signed 20-year power purchase agreements (PPA) to generate the equivalent of 100 percent of Mars' electricity from renewable energy by 2020. Source: EDF, 8/23/18

From plastic straws to a sea change for plastic
It's time for some big thinking -- and concrete action -- on plastic waste. Source: GreenBiz, 8/29/18

How REMADE could drive innovation in circular manufacturing techniques
The challenges involved in converting the global economy from linear to circular processes and consumption habits are massive, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional.

Considering the technological, policy, marketing, logistical and infrastructural innovations that will be required, it is clear that the solutions will be bigger than any one player -- or even any one group of industry-specific collaborators -- can orchestrate. Such a monumental challenge requires a monumental effort.

The REMADE Institute is one such effort, funded with $70 million from federal funding sources and $70 million from its various members. Composed of 26 universities, 44 companies, seven national labs and 26 industry trade associations and foundations, it's the largest and most comprehensive effort (at least in the United States) focused primarily on addressing the changes required to retool remanufacturing processes for the circular economy. Source: GreenBiz, 8/29/18

Thursday, August 30, 2018
PEW Charitable Trusts Identifies Ohio EPA Among Agencies with Innovative Approach to Helping Businesses Navigate Regulations
Ohio EPA's Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) earned the attention of the Pew Charitable Trusts this month for the Agency's innovative approach to providing free, customized and confidential support to help businesses achieve and maintain compliance with environmental laws and regulations. The PEW Report was part of the policy-focused, nonprofit organization's research into state-based programs which provide an essential public service (e.g. protecting human health and the environment), while also encouraging business growth and job creation. Source: Ohio EPA, 8/22/18

Wands for Wildlife Puts Discarded Mascara Wands to Work
The refuge, which receives donations from around the world, uses mascara wands to help care for and groom its rescued animals. Source: Waste360, 8/27/18

Minnesota State Fair's Eco Experience shows off economics of recycling
At Eco Experience building, state officials make case for recycling as a job creator. Source: MInneapolis Star Tribune, 8/26/18

One pound of cheese makes nine pounds of whey. Where does it all go?
America is in the middle of an historic cheese glut. But pound for pound, dairies produce more whey than they do anything else. That means an intractable problem for the industry -- and a potential opportunity for entrepreneurs. Source: New Food Economy, 8/16/18

Food waste could mean big bucks for manufacturers and retailers
Innovative firms and researchers are developing new ways to use food waste both as an ingredient and in food packaging, according to Ingredients Network. Source: FoodDive, 8/23/18

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