Day: December 3, 2012

Product Stewardship and the Yellow Pages Industry

Read the full post at Local Search Insider.

What is the role of government in product stewardship?  This question was posed to me as one of five panelists on yesterday’s Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) webinar. Many government officials and recycling professionals listened in, and other panelists included:

According to PSI’s invitation, the purpose of the webinar discussion was to discern, “…whether key [product stewardship] program principles, such as transparency and accountability, are best attained through voluntary, mandatory, or hybrid programs that encompass elements from both approaches.”

During the webinar, I stressed that it is important to not lump all of private industry together when considering how to regulate the environmental impact of products in the marketplace.  Government leaders and other key stakeholders should look at what each individual industry is doing and not take a one-size-fits-all approach.

US State-level Chemicals Policy Database

Developed by the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production’s Chemicals Policy and Science Initiative, this database includes state level legislation related to chemicals and chemical management. Search by state, region, status (e.g., enacted, proposed, and failed), policy category  (e.g., pollution prevention, single chemical restriction, etc.), chemical, and product type (e.g., children’s products, cleaning products, etc.).

How Timberland uses ‘the four pillars’ to sow sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Betsy Blaisdell has spent her Timberland career working in sustainability issues, helping to usher the company to a powerhouse role in corporate social responsibility circles. She speaks to Nina Kruschwitz at MIT Sloan Management Review how Timberland integrates sustainability reporting and activities into all levels of the organization.

Microsoft to debut sewage-powered data center

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

With the world’s leading IT companies rushing to develop renewable energy projects to power their giant data centers, Microsoft might be about to take the prize for the most unlikely clean power source – sewage.

U.S. firm FuelCell Energy this week revealed it is working with the IT giant on a trial that could see biogas from a wastewater treatment facility in Wyoming utilized by a fuel cell, providing “ultra-clean and carbon-neutral electricity” to a Microsoft data center.

GE, the ‘Industrial Internet’ and radical efficiency

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

General Electric’s chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, addressed a crowd of innovators in San Francisco last week, talking about a new generation of products and services designed to radically improve customers’ efficiency and productivity, cut energy use and waste, and foster a new wave of innovation. He described the potential to cut billions of dollars of energy from sectors like aviation, railroads, power generation, and oil and gas development. He talked about ecosystems and intelligence and efficiency.

Ecomagination 2.0? Nope. Welcome to the Industrial Internet.

GE’s latest branding effort sounds a bit like its earlier, more green-focused campaign, launched in 2005. Except that this one shuns any mention of climate change or sustainability, let alone “eco.” I doubt you’ll see any daisies or dancing elephants in its marketing efforts, even though the new messaging sounds a lot like the “jet engines, trains, and power plants that run dramatically cleaner” that GE’s ecomagination ads once touted.

And yet this is not a rehash of the same old thing. Something important is going on here. GE’s new focus is about “the convergence of the global industrial system with the power of advanced computing, analytics, low-cost sensing and new levels of connectivity permitted by the Internet.” It’s about how “the deeper meshing of the digital world with the world of machines holds the potential to bring about profound transformation to global industry, and in turn to many aspects of daily life, including the way many of us do our jobs.”

It’s fundamentally about data — Big Data — and how it transforms and, in many ways, revitalizes the dirty work of manufacturing, transportation, and energy production.

Webinar: Speaking Green to A&D: How Manufacturers Can Use Eco-Labels to Position Their Products

December 18, 2012, 12:30-1:30 CST
Register here.

With the more than 400 Eco-labels in the marketplace today, there is confusion and information overload on what constitutes a truly sustainable product. This presents a particular challenge for the architecture and design community, as well as affiliated purchasers and specifiers, in how to assess the validity of green claims. The past few years have seen a dizzying array of acronyms, jargon, and claims, from LCA to EPD — not to mention single- versus multi-attribute labels.

The problem is equally vexing for product manufacturers, who must determine with which labels to align themselves. Making the right choice can mean the difference between success and failure in the mainstream marketplace.

In this one-hour webcast, three industry experts will discuss which product claims, certifications, labels and declarations are most valuable and how A&D evaluates manufacturer claims of sustainable product attributes.

Among the things you’ll learn:

  • What constitutes sustainable product attributes and credible eco-labels
  • How branding your product’s sustainable attributes incorrectly could be a big turn-off to A&D
  • How the information you provide A&D can inspire them to specify your products when using LEED and other high performance rating programs
  • Resources available to manufacturers to increase their product portfolio’s sustainability via certification/evaluation of claims

4 ways to create a sustainable holiday

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

A sustainable holiday season is definitely in reach, and it starts with all the merchandise. Do you really need to buy all that stuff just because it’s on sale? Well, maybe. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an eco-friendly Christmas come Dec. 25. So what would a sustainable holiday look like? Have a look.

Reaching 2009 International Climate Change Goals Will Require Aggressive Measures

Read the full story from Appalachian State University.

Despite an international consensus reached in 2009 to limit climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, scientists say the likelihood of meeting that goal is diminishing.

The Global Carbon Project’s most recent analysis by scientists from the United States, Norway, Australia, France and the United Kingdom published in the current issue of the journal Nature Climate Change shows that a global economy fueled with coal, oil and natural gas is putting increasing pressure on the global climate system.

ORNL Develops Lignin-Based Thermoplastic Conversion Process

Read the full story from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Turning lignin, a plant’s structural “glue” and a byproduct of the paper and pulp industry, into something considerably more valuable is driving a research effort headed by Amit Naskar of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In a cover article published in Green Chemistry, the research team describes a process that ultimately transforms the lignin byproduct into a thermoplastic – a polymer that becomes pliable above a specific temperature. Researchers accomplished this by reconstructing larger lignin molecules either through a chemical reaction with formaldehyde or by washing with methanol. Through these simple chemical processes, they created a crosslinked rubber-like material that can also be processed like plastics.

Full citation for the article: Tomonori Saito, Rebecca H. Brown, Marcus A. Hunt, Deanna L. Pickel, Joseph M. Pickel, Jamie M. Messman, Frederick S. Baker, Martin Kellerd and Amit K. Naskar (2012). “Turning renewable resources into value-added polymer: development of lignin-based thermoplastic.” Green Chemistry 14, 3295-3303. DOI: 10.1039/c2gc35933b.

Abstract: Productive uses of lignin, the third most abundant natural polymer, have been sought for decades. One especially attractive possibility is that of developing value-added products including thermoplastics based on lignin. This possibility warrants special attention due to growth of the modern biofuel industries. However, the polydisperse molecular weight and hyper-branched structure of lignin has hindered the creation of high-performance biopolymers. Here, we report the preparation and characterization of novel lignin-based, partially carbon-neutral thermoplastics. We first altered the molecular weight of lignin, either by fractionation with methanol, or by formaldehyde crosslinking. Crosslinking of lignin increases the molecular weight, exhibiting Mn = 31000 g mol−1, whereas that of as-received lignin is 1840 g mol−1. Tuning the molecular weight of lignin enabled successful preparation of novel lignin-derived thermoplastics, when coupled with telechelic polybutadiene soft-segments at proper feed ratios. Characteristic to thermoplastic rubbers, free-standing films of the resulting copolymers exhibit two-phase morphology and associated relaxations in the dynamic mechanical loss spectrum. To the best of our knowledge this article is the first report to demonstrate phase immiscibility, melt-processibility, and biphasic morphology of soft and hard segments in a lignin-based copolymer for all feed ratios of two macromolecular components. The use of higher molecular weight lignin enhanced the resulting shear modulus due to efficient network formation of telechelic polybutadiene bridges. The storage modulus in
the rubbery plateau region increased with increasing lignin content. The successful synthesis of novel lignin-based thermoplastics will open a new pathway to biomass utilization and will help conserve petrochemicals.