Artificial sweeteners pollute streams

Read the full story in Science for Students.

In the past few decades, diners have been turning increasingly to soft drinks and foods sweetened with fake sugar. The idea is to get the sweet taste without loading up on calories. But a new study finds an environmental cost to these sweeteners: In short order, they can end up polluting lakes and streams.

Original Journal Source: B. Subedi and K. Kannan. “Fate of artificial sweeteners in wastewater treatment plants in New York State, USA.” Environmental Science & Technology. Published early online Nov. 3, 2014. doi: 10.1021/es504769c.

Climate change is disrupting flower pollination, research shows

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Sexual deceit, pressed flowers and Victorian bee collectors are combined in new scientific research which demonstrates for the first time that climate change threatens flower pollination, which underpins much of the world’s food production.
The work used museum records stretching back to 1848 to show that the early spider orchid and the miner bee on which it depends for reproduction have become increasingly out of sync as spring temperatures rise due to global warming.

The orchid resembles a female miner bee and exudes the same sex pheromone to seduce the male bee into “pseudocopulation” with the flower, an act which also achieves pollination. The orchids have evolved to flower at the same time as the bee emerges.

But while rising temperatures cause both the orchid and the bee to flower or fly earlier in the spring, the bees are affected much more, which leads to a mismatch.

“We have shown that plants and their pollinators show different responses to climate change and that warming will widen the timeline between bees and flowers emerging,” said Dr Karen Robbirt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the University of East Anglia (UEA). “If replicated in less specific systems, this could have severe implications for crop productivity.”

She said the research, published in Current Biology on Thursday, is “the first clear example, supported by long-term data, of the potential for climate change to disrupt critical [pollination] relationships between species.”

New Online Training Now Available for AVERT, EPA’s AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool

EPA has just launched new online training for AVERT, a free tool designed to estimate the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs. This training walks users through each step of the AVERT Main Module with dynamic “how to” videos and can be accessed on demand.

State air quality planners, energy office staff, public utility commission staff, and other organizations interested in knowing the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) policies and programs can use AVERT to:

  • Quantify the nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (S02), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions benefits of state and multi-state EE/RE policies and programs.
  • Examine the regional, state, and county level emissions impacts of different EE/RE programs based on temporal energy savings and hourly generation profiles.
  • Include AVERT-calculated emissions impacts of EE/RE policies and programs in air quality modeling and Clean Air Act plans used to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • Compare the emissions impacts of different types of EE/RE programs, such as the emissions impacts of wind installations versus solar installations.
  • Understand the emissions impacts of different EE/RE policies and programs during high electricity demand days.
  • Analyze the emissions benefits of EE/RE programs implemented in multiple states within an AVERT region.
  • Share information about location-specific emissions benefits in easy–to–interpret tables and maps.

EPA also recently updated the AVERT Main Module and User Manual and added 2013 data to the Statistical Module. Visit the AVERT web page to download these new materials.

How to Move Sustainability to the Boardroom

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

The UN Global Compact has launched a program to help move sustainability issues from the backroom to the boardroom.

The Global Compact Board Programme supports boards of directors to oversee and drive a strategic approach to corporate sustainability, and to respond to the interests of all their key stakeholders while protecting and creating financial value.

The program will help companies better manage risk and growth opportunities by developing solutions that respond to the future demands of people and needs of the planet, UNGC says.

Sustainability in the electronics industry: ‘We’re trying to improve conditions for people on the planet’

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Tim Mohin, chairman of the electronics industry citizenship coalition, talks about collaborating with competitors to clean up supply chains and improve working conditions in the electronics business.

Webinar: Recycling 2.0 — Changing Consumer Behavior Amid Changing Waste Streams

December 9, 2014, noon CST
Register here

Consumer recycling, once seen as the most basic of environmental practices, has become decidedly more complex. Some communities have mandated aggressive, long-term, zero-waste goals to divert sometimes up to 90 percent of their waste from the local landfill. That can lead to a  wide array of what’s collected — and what’s not —  engendering confusion among residents.

The result: After decades of growth, recycling rates have plateaued, or even dropped.

How can cities regain the momentum? There are some tried and true methods, but it takes a village, literally — producers, recyclers, municipalities and consumers, working together to find solutions.

In this hour-long webcast, you’ll hear how waste streams are changing;  the latest data about what consumers think about recycling and what messages resonate with them; how one of the nation’s largest recycling companies is working with cities to increase recovery rates; and the secrets behind one of the most successful municipal recycling programs in the United States.

Among the things you’ll learn:

  • Current recycling trends and the true bottom-line impacts of non-recyclable materials such as “flexible packaging”
  • How recycling programs influence how consumers think and recycle
  • The differences between what consumers say about recycling and how they actually recycle (what they are actually doing)
  • Specific examples from Hennepin County, MN demonstrating how their innovative recycling education initiatives work


2015 Collegiate Sports Sustainability Summit Call for Presentations

June 24-26, 2015
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN
Conference web site

This Summit offers attendees the chance to network, learn, and exchange ideas with peers from around the country on ways in which athletic and sports programs can join the campus movement to engage students, fans, and alumni in making collegiate sports socially, economically, and environmentally responsible.

Please consider answering the call for presentations and discussions by completing the Call for Presentations form and submitting it to the Summit organizers no later than January 9, 2015.