Day: November 19, 2013

12 Sure-Fire Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Read the full post at Forbes.

Inefficient processes are at the root of your carbon footprint. Use process improvement tools – such as Lean Six Sigma or Kaizen — to trim the level of energy, water and other resources you use.

Think of each item on this list as a process that may benefit from improvement. These concepts come from Catherine Reeves, a manager of Environmental, Health, Safety & Sustainability at Xerox. She refers to them as “sustainability opportunities,” which can reduce your waste and emissions and cut your costs too.


Request for Proposals: AASHE 2014 Professional Development Opportunities

AASHE members are invited to submit proposals for AASHE workshops and webinar topics to be held in 2014. This is a great opportunity for you to share best practices and present valuable educational content that directly addresses the challenges and shared successes in leading the sustainability transformation on your campus. And it’s a great opportunity for us to be able to directly address our members’ current professional development needs.

Whether it’s a webinar about sustainable purchasing in higher education, a workshop about incorporating sustainability into the curriculum, or a discussion regarding climate adaptation, we want to provide a platform to share your experiences, expertise and resources with the campus sustainability community.

Proposals are due by November 27, 2013. Proposal notifications (accepted and declined) will be sent before the end of the year.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. first to be certified platinum by US Zero Waste Business Council

The U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) announced today that it’s awarding Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. with the platinum certification plaque for its achievement in successfully diverting 99.8 percent of its waste from landfill, incineration and the environment. This is the first platinum certification that the USZWBC has given and the highest level possible.

USZWBC audited the Zero Waste diversion processes at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif. and found that the facility is successfully reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting at an unprecedented rate.

“Our certification program holds to the highest standards and is one of the toughest in the country, so reaching the platinum level is a great accomplishment,” said Stephanie Barger, founder and executive director of USZWBC. “We have never seen a company so efficient with their Zero Waste management, and yet they are still striving to achieve an even higher standard, which is inspiring.”

The goal of businesses participating in the Zero Waste Certification program is to divert all end-use material from landfill, incineration and the environment, while achieving a minimum of 90 percent diversion based on the standards set by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is exceeding this by 9.8 percent.

“Resource conservation is important to me and I’ve always felt it’s the right way to do business,” said Ken Grossman, owner and founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “Everyone at Sierra Nevada participates in our Zero Waste efforts and takes pride in what we do. It is an honor to be recognized as a Platinum Zero Waste Business by the US Zero Waste Business Council. Although we have built a great Zero Waste program, we will continue to look for ways to improve.”

Though the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico facility has successfully achieved the highest level of certification, there is still more to be accomplished by increasing diversion, implementing upstream policies and total participation from all employees, vendors and customers. By working towards these high-level Zero Waste objectives, the business manages its resources more efficiently and economically.

“As the USZWBC certification chair, I am very proud of the work that Sierra Nevada Brewing has done over the years to achieve a platinum rating,” said Sue Beets-Atkinson, USZWBC board member. “The company has displayed great knowledge of Zero Waste, which was very exciting to see during the staff interviews. Each employee’s version of Zero Waste was very impressive.”

To date, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico facility has excelled in the following areas:

  • Commitment to Zero Waste by reaching 99.8 percent diversion from landfill, incineration and the environment
  • $5,398,470 avoided disposal costs, and $903,308 in revenue (2012) – both of these include spent brewers grain, which makes up the bulk of what it diverts
  • 51,414 tons diverted from landfill and incineration
  • 11,812 tons of CO2e greenhouse gases avoided
  • Reuse:
  • Shipping pallets are rebuilt locally;
    • Employees are given an insulated Klean Kanteen and a ChicoBag® on their first day to help them get into the habit of reuse
    • Single sided paper is collected and turned into notepads for employees
    • The same boxes in which bottle caps are delivered are saved and reused to ship t-shirts.
    • Given the lack of regional composting facilities, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. was the first in the US to install a HotRot composter to compost its organic waste. This system composted 261 tons of organics in 2012 that otherwise would have gone to the landfill.

These achievements were accomplished by employees and leadership from their sustainability team: Cheri Chastain and Mandi McKay.

About the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council
Launched in spring 2012 and headquartered in Corona Del Mar, Calif., the USZWBC’s mission is to educate, inform and document the performance of Zero Waste Businesses using scientific methods to help them and their communities become more healthy and sustainable. The USZWBC will be hosting its third annual National Zero Waste Business Conference on May 7 and 8 in Atlanta, Ga.

About Zero Waste
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance (, Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.

A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies

Read the full story at Yale Environment 360.

A shortage of “rare earth” metals, used in everything from electric car batteries to solar panels to wind turbines, is hampering the growth of renewable energy technologies. Researchers are now working to find alternatives to these critical elements or better ways to recycle them.

Minnesota garbage study offers ‘wake up call,’ pollution control agency head says

Read the full story from MPR News.

Food waste and other organic material made up nearly a third of what Minnesotans sent to landfills in 2012, according to a new study state officials released Monday.

The Waste Composition Report, released by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, found that organics accounted for 31 percent of the waste stream; 25 percent of the waste stream was paper and 18 percent was plastic. A category called “other wastes,” which includes things like furniture, appliances and carpet, also accounted for 18 percent, and metal, glass and electronics were in the single digits.

The last time the MPCA conducted such a study was in 2000. Since then, plastic has made up a bigger part of the waste stream, but the percentage of paper being thrown away has decreased, likely because there are fewer newspapers, the study concluded.

Still, Minnesotans are throwing away about a million tons of recyclable materials in a year that are worth about $217 million, the report said.

BioMason Wins Top Cradle to Cradle Products Challenge Prize

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

BioMason won the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge for manufacturing its brick products, which have a lower emissions profile because they are grown instead of fired.

Harnessing the crowd to promote sustainable innovation

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Hundreds of academics, activists, scientists, municipal leaders, and businesspeople gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week to discuss ways to harness a different kind of sustainable resource: the crowd.

The three-day Crowds and Climate Conference took on topics from urban adaptation to climate change and scaling renewable energy production to strategies for shaping public opinion and the role of big data. How to capture the energy, knowledge, and passion of the crowd was the consistent theme.

Students Launch “Button” to Put Denied Access to Research on the Map

Read the full press release.

Today, at an international meeting of student advocates for expanded access to academic research, two undergraduates from Great Britain announced the highly-anticipated launch of The Open Access Button – a browser-based tool to map the epidemic of denied access to academic research articles, and help users find the research they need.

University students David Carroll and Joseph McArthur created The Open Access Button in response to their own frustrations with gaining access to the results of academic research.

Are patent trolls strangling sustainable innovation?

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Patents aim to protect and promote innovation but they’re being exploited by trolls and corporates, writes Adam Gerschel-Clarke.

SC Johnson’s sustainability head explains the role of storytelling

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Stories new and old are key to sparking imagination, says Kelly Semrau, who is applying the theory to sustainable shopping.

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