Day: July 2, 2012

Small Farmers Creating a New Business Model as Agriculture Goes Local

Read the full story in the New York Times.

… the movement toward local food is creating a vibrant new economic laboratory for American agriculture. The result, with its growing army of small-scale local farmers, is as much about dollars as dinner: a reworking of old models about how food gets sold and farms get financed, and who gets dirt under their fingernails doing the work.

Global Environmental Outlook 5

Download the report.

The main goal of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is to keep governments and stakeholders informed of the state and trends of the global environment. Over the past 15 years, the GEO reports have examined a wealth of data, information and knowledge about the global environment; identified potential policy responses; and provided an outlook for the future. The assessments, and their consultative and collaborative processes, have worked to bridge the gap between science and policy by turning the best available scientific knowledge into information relevant for decision makers.

Previous GEO reports focused on an analysis of environmental issues and the identification of responses, using an integrated approach that provided a comprehensive and multidisciplinary overview across different themes. This fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) builds on previous reports, continuing to provide analyses of the state, trends and outlook for, and responses to, environmental change. But it also adds new dimensions through its assessment of progress towards meeting internationally agreed goals and identifying gaps in their achievement (Chapters 2–6), on analysing promising response options that have emerged in the regions (Chapters 9–15), and presenting potential responses for the international community (Chapters 16–17). Furthermore, for the first time, GEO-5 suggests that there should be a fundamental shift in the way environmental issues are analysed, with consideration given to the drivers of global change, rather than merely to the pressures on the environment.

Can Kimberly-Clark shed its fiber footprint?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB), the maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissue, aims to step up its sustainability actions in a serious way. The Irving, Texas-based company recently announced at the Rio+20 UN conference that it plans to halve its use of wood fiber sourced from natural forests by 2025.

At maturity, green gamification takes on a new challenge

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

It’s no secret that gamification has a big potential impact on the success of corporate sustainability efforts. The recent Gamification Summit (G Summit) in San Francisco was a turning point in this effort. It marked signs of the movement’s maturity, served as a ceremonial recognition in the continued integration between gamification and sustainability — and presented a new challenge in how to move this integration to the next level.

How P2 can change the state of green manufacturing

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

When it comes to reducing the environmental impacts of a business, the concept of pollution prevention is one of the most fundamentally important ideas in the sustainability guidebook.

The basic concept is simple: Pollution prevention (P2) aims to reduce or eliminate waste at the source by changing production processes, using non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and reusing materials instead of putting them in the waste stream.

P2 is a methodology that is critical to a company’s operations, and should be embedded in their strategic plan to streamline their manufacturing waste outputs and save costs and regulatory hassles at the same time.

So why isn’t P2 more widely adopted?

Although P2 is well known and has been used for years in some manufacturing sectors, there are still companies that describe their P2 efforts as implementing only recycling practices (cardboard, paper, etc.) or reducing energy usage.

Perhaps even more of a challenge is when P2 is associated with or used interchangeably with “pollution controls.” These “end of pipe” technologies are not considered to be P2 practices, because the use of pollution control technologies are more often than not driven by external factors like environmental regulations and compliance.

For example, there are potential fines and negative press for a company that exceeds its air permitting limits. In order to avoid these outcomes, companies implement a variety of process controls after the waste is already in existence so that their releases are below legal limits. In contrast, P2 practices focus reduction efforts on the source of the waste stream.

Symbol of Change: A Look at the How2Recycle Labeling System

Read the full story in Waste Age.

Among the foremost challenges faced by waste and recycling services providers is educating the public about exactly what is and is not suitable for the recycling bin. Beyond that, many items that can be recycled don’t necessarily belong in a curbside bin. And if a package contains multiple components made of different materials, a single, nondescript recycling symbol does not make it clear which parts are recyclable or how to handle them.

Conundrums like these led the sustainability-focused nonprofit GreenBlue to develop the How2Recycle labeling system as part of its Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). The SPC boasts a range of manufacturers and retailers, including Yoplait, Esteé Lauder Companies, Sealed Air, BJ’s Wholesale Club, ConAgra Foods, Costco Wholesale, Microsoft, REI, Seventh Generation and manufacturer Ampac. The new labeling system is far more precise, detailing the material(s) in the packaging, its ability to be recycled and details on how to do so.

Oil Dispersants: Additional Research Needed, Particularly on Subsurface and Arctic Applications

Oil Dispersants: Additional Research Needed, Particularly on Subsurface and Arctic Applications. GAO-12-585, May 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-585
Highlights: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/591233.pdf

New Energy Department Report Finds Lower Environmental Impact for Energy-Efficient Lighting

A new Energy Department report finds that LED lamps have a significantly lower environmental impact than incandescent lighting and a slight environmental edge over compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The report, LED Manufacturing and Performance, compares these three technologies from the beginning to the end of their life cycles—including manufacturing, operation, and disposal. The most comprehensive study of its kind for LED lamps, the new report analyzes the energy and environmental impacts of manufacturing, assembly, transport, operation, and disposal of these three lighting types, and is the first public report to consider the LED manufacturing process in depth. This report supports the Energy Department’s efforts to protect our air and water, boost American competitiveness in the race for clean energy, and help families and businesses save money on their energy bills.

This is the second report produced through a larger Energy Department project to assess the life-cycle environmental and resource costs of LED lighting products in comparison with traditional lighting technologies. The report uses the conclusions of the previous report, Review of the Lifecycle Energy Consumption of Incandescent, Compact Fluorescent and LED Lamps, released in February 2012, as a point of departure to produce a detailed, conservative assessment of the manufacturing process and use it to compare the three lighting technologies, taking into consideration a wider range of environmental impacts.

The first report concluded that CFLs and today’s LEDs are similar in energy consumption—both consuming significantly less electricity over the same period of usage than incandescent lighting—and that operating these products consumed the majority of the energy used throughout their life cycle. Similarly, the new report finds that the energy these lighting products consume during operation makes up the majority of their environmental impact, compared to the energy consumed in manufacturing and transportation. Because of their high efficiency—consuming only 12.5 watts of electricity to produce about the same amount of light as CFLs (15 watts) and incandescents (60 watts)—LED lamps were found to be the most environmentally friendly of the three lamp types over the lifetime of the products, across 14 of the 15 impact measures examined in the study.

Other key findings:

  • CFLs were found to have a slightly higher environmental impact than today’s LED lamps on all measures except their contribution to landfills. The aluminum contained in an LED lamp’s large aluminum heat sink causes a greater impact on landfills because of the energy and resources consumed in manufacturing.
  • The report projects that in five years, the environmental impacts of LEDs will be significantly lower than today’s LED products, based on expected near-term improvements in LED technology.
  • As the market transitions from incandescent sources to energy-saving light sources that save consumers and business money, LEDs and CFLs are expected to achieve substantial reductions in environmental impacts–on the order of three to 10 times current levels.

To download a PDF of the report and view other market studies and technical reports on solid state lighting, go to the Solid State Lighting website.