Day: September 17, 2012

Forced Manufacturer-Led Recycling ‘Costlier and Less Successful’

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

States and cities that have implemented alternatives to extended producer responsibility policies achieve higher municipal solid waste recycling rates at a lower cost than mandatory EPR programs aimed at food, beverage and consumer product packaging, according to an industry study.

The Evaluation of Extended Producer Responsibility for Consumer Packaging study, conducted by consulting firm SAIC for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, found the municipal solid waste recycling rate in the US where there is no packaging EPR is 24 percent, higher than Canada and the European Union – two places where EPR is widely employed – which stand at 18 and 23 percent.

Kroger: Simple Truths revealed

Read the full story in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

When it comes to environmentally sound and savvy practices, The Kroger Co. is boasting some impressive progress that’s saving the company millions of dollars and boosting sales.

In 2011, the world’s largest grocer saved enough energy to power every single home – more than 175,000 of them – in the city of Columbus for a year. Kroger also has 19 manufacturing plants that operate without sending any waste to landfills. And, the company has just begun converting unsold organic food into renewable energy that powers its Ralphs/Food 4 Less facilities.

The results stem from a company-wide sustainability effort that’s being led by group vice president Lynn Marmer. We caught up with Marmer to get the latest on the initiative’s progress and other highlights from Kroger’s recently published sustainability report.

Finding the Right Biofuels for the Southeast: A Range of Alternatives

Read the full story in Agricultural Research.

Thanks to sunny skies and long growing seasons, farms and forests in the southeastern United States will play a major role in efforts to produce biomass for biofuels that reduce our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. And Agricultural Research Service scientists are focused on finding ways to tap into the region’s potential.

Government mandates call for producing up to 36 billion gallons of biofuel to help meet the nation’s transportation needs by 2022. While 15 billion gallons of that is expected to come from grain ethanol, the remaining 21 billion gallons will be derived from other feedstocks, such as sugarcane; perennial grasses, like switchgrass; and oilseed crops, such as rapeseed, pennycress, camelina, and soybean.

To achieve that goal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forged a number of strategic partnerships through its five USDA Regional Biomass Research Centers to coordinate research and tap into its nationwide resources and expertise.The centers are networks of scientists and facilities from two USDA agencies—ARS and the Forest Service Research and Development—in five regions across the United States: Central-East, Southeastern, Northern-East, Western, and Northwestern. (See related stories in this issue.) Of the five regions, the Southeast has the greatest natural capacity in the continental United States, with sufficient sunshine, soils, water, and other natural resources to produce more than 10 billion gallons of advanced biofuels each year, nearly a third of the 36 billion-gallon production target.

Zero-Energy Residential Test Facility Unveiled

Read the full story at Occupational Health & Safety.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s new lab is designed to demonstrate a suburban home for a family of four can generate as much energy as it uses in a year.

Beyond energy savings: How green buildings can cut labor costs

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Many sustainability-minded businesses realize that green buildings usually have lower energy costs, but that may not be the most significant reason to incorporate sustainable design in your facilities. That’s because utility bills, and even construction costs, are typically a relatively small part of a business’s bottom line. The larger portion – as much as 92 percent of a building’s design, construction, operations and maintenance – comes from labor and labor-related costs. (A white paper published in Building Design+Construction puts those costs at 78 percent, while CTG Energetics President Malcolm Lewis estimates they make up an average of 92 percent.) The good news: Buildings that utilize sustainable design can realize substantial savings in their labor expenses.

The relationship between green buildings and reduced labor costs is strong, with documentable reductions in the real costs of labor and overhead. Most of the labor benefits arise from some of the less sexy aspects of green building, the ones affecting indoor environmental quality. IEQ includes indoor air quality, which is enhanced in green buildings by fewer pollutants from building materials, cleansers, equipment, etc. Less obvious green building attributes, such as quality; the availability of fresh air, daylight and views of nature; as well as the controllability of lighting, heating and cooling, all contribute to better IEQ.