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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Monday, August 8, 2016
New Waste Tracking Feature Helps Building Managers Save Money and Support a Healthy Environment
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled today a waste and materials tracking feature in its Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which is a free benchmarking and tracking tool for commercial building owners and managers. Reducing waste and reusing materials more productively through sustainable materials management over their entire lifecycles conserves resources, helps communities remain economically competitive and supports a healthy environment. Source: U.S. EPA, 8/8/16

Six ways businesses view climate change
Stemming climate change cannot be accomplished without the involvement of the private sector. How do most businesses think about this task? Here are six prevalent mindsets. Source: GreenBiz, 8/8/16

BREEAM, a respected green building certification, migrates to U.S.
Why a leading LEED consulting firm is talking up the BREEAM -- Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology-- methodology. Source: GreenBiz, 8/8/16

Friday, August 5, 2016
Bedford rare earth recoverer set to launch project
A consortium of European investors is backing a Bedford rare earth metals company just ahead of its imminent completion of a pilot project to demonstrate the effectiveness of its technology. The method used by Ucore passes a solution containing rare earth metals from mine tailings through a chemical filter which traps the precious metals. The method is called SuperLig molecular recognition technology and was developed by Utah-based IBC Advanced Technologies. That company sold the exclusive global rights to this technology for rare earth metal separation, recycling and tailings processing applications to Ucore for U.S.-$2.9 million last year. Since then, the two companies have formed a joint venture, in which Ucore has controlling interest, to market this technology to the rare earth metals sector. And they've undertaken a pilot project to demonstrate how well it works. Source: The Chronicle Herald, 8/1/16

How increasing efficiency can stem climate change impacts on the energy-water nexus
ACEEE's first entry in their energy-water blog series outlined the ways climate change could fundamentally affect the energy-water nexus. In this post, they explore the roles of energy efficiency and water efficiency in moderating some of the adverse impacts of climate change that we covered in the prior post. Source: ACEEE, 8/5/16

Thursday, August 4, 2016
Project looks to lift recovery of precious metals from e-scrap
A trial program in Europe is exploring more efficient ways of recovering a range of raw materials from used electronics and appliances. The project will focus on recovering gold, platinum, antimony, cobalt, graphite and other elements from small appliances and household electronics. The Critical Raw Material Recovery project includes trial collection programs for e-scrap, including retailer take-back systems and drop-off collection bins at universities, businesses and other recycling events. In addition, the program will test five reprocessing and recovery techniques focused on recovering the metals. The effort is organized by U.K.-based Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), an organization that works with governments and the private sector to boost recycling. Source: Resource Recycling, 8/4/16

The Price Of Pork
Hundreds of hog confinements have been constructed across Illinois in recent years, using a factory-like system to grow millions of pigs and put inexpensive bacon on your plate. But a Tribune investigation finds all that cheap meat is coming at great cost to rural communities. Source: Chicago Tribune, 8/3/16

What would the Pokemon GO of sustainability look like?
Love it or hate it, Pokemon Go shows how digital technology can be an agent of behavior change -- getting people to do things they otherwise might not do. What would the "Pokemon Go of sustainability" look like? Source: GreenBiz, 8/2/16

America's real-time electricity use mapped
The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the first-ever tool to measure nationwide electricity use in near-real time. Source: GCN, 8/2/16

Monday, August 1, 2016
The Fix Is Out: Product Repairs Get Tougher in New Age of Obsolescence
Mike Tyran, a nurse living near Corpus Christi, Texas, bought a used Apple iPod in 2010 and tried to repair it after the battery wouldn't charge. But when the inveterate "fixer" attempted to open the white-and-chrome rectangle, he was stumped. "I had worked on old tube radios ... (which) had diagrams (and) ... schematics. I know where the wiring goes and I know how to open it," said Tyran, 56, a former heavy diesel mechanic. "I looked at an iPod and I had no idea how to open it & because there were no screws." Tyran's realization that the sleek but defective digital music player was nearly impenetrable opened his eyes to a broader truth: He and his fellow tinkerers are living in a New Age of Obsolescence -- a time where repair is, by design, often not an option. There are many reasons that consumer products are increasingly manufactured in ways that make it nearly impossible to fix them. Among them: Ever-tighter design requirements, manufacturers' fears of intellectual property theft or liability if a repair goes wrong, and the growing number of products that contain proprietary software -- a class that will explode in the era of the Internet of Things. But critics say profit generated by repeat product sales is the biggest driver behind disposable consumer products. Source: NBC News, 8/1/16

Friday, July 29, 2016
EPA Issues Final Rule to Protect the Public from Exposure to Formaldehyde
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today moves to reduce exposure to formaldehyde vapors from certain wood products produced domestically or imported into the United States. The agency worked with the California Air Resources Board to help ensure the final national rule is consistent with California requirements for composite wood products. Source: U.S. EPA, 7/27/16

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