How Bad Is the Damage to the Animas River?

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

It looked Photoshopped, but it was definitely real: a river in Colorado flowed orange.

Last week, a cleanup crew from the Environmental Protection Agency working along the Animas River in southwestern Colorado accidentally broke through a dam, causing a nearby abandoned mine to spew 3 million gallons of wastewater into the river. The spill sent lead, arsenic, cadmium and other contaminants into the 126-mile-long river, turning the water a mustard hue.

The river’s appearance has since recovered; it shifted to a slight green color as water flowed away from the spill site, diluting the concentration of pollutants, CNN reported. By Tuesday, the water looked clear.

Getting It Right: Weatherization and Energy Efficiency Are Good Investments

Read the full story from U.S. DOE.

A working paper released in June by academics with the E2e Project wrongly suggested that the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and other energy efficiency programs are not good investments.  This result contradicts many past studies and was so surprising that the media was set abuzz.

Two new major, peer reviewed, national evaluations of WAP from DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) provide fresh evidence that WAP is indeed a good investment with energy savings exceeding the costs by a factor of 1.4.  The evaluations also show that under the Recovery Act, while achieving economic stimulus goals, the benefit cost ratio for WAP energy savings measures is estimated at just below 1, substantially better results than found by E2e.

Glass Works: Dedicated Glass Container Recycling Produces Results

Read the full story in Ceramic Industry Magazine. Ripple Glass was founded by Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City.

About 80% of the U.S. population has access to single-stream curbside recycling collection, which is accompanied by issues of contamination and often ineffective recovery, especially for glass containers. Some alternative recycling systems are in place, however. Where feasible, many of these systems are showing impressive results for high-quality, efficient closed-loop glass recycling.

One example is a company that is finding remarkable success by focusing solely on glass container recycling. Since 2012, Kansas City, Mo.-based Ripple Glass has used a recycling system that is both old-school and new for container glass recovery.

10 questions to ask about wood and paper-based products

Read the full story at Treehugger.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) – a CEO-led organization of innovative companies based around sustainability and business – sees forest loss and degradation as a global priority requiring immediate and concerted action: “It is critical we find ways to ensure that more of the world’s forests and plantations are sustainably managed and that forest products are used and reused wisely.”

And with that in mind, the group recently issued a statement, which, among other things, recognizes and supports a group of independent forest certification and associated chain-of-custody systems, including the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. In addition, the WBCSD, with the World Resources Institute (WRI), released guidance to help procurement managers make informed choices. In it, they list 10 key questions to consider when buying wood or paper-based products.

This Jewel has some interesting ways to bag your groceries

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

One week into Chicago’s plastic bag ban, shoppers have noticed a few hiccups in the transition as major retailers have replaced the old lightweight plastic bags with thicker reusable ones, spurring confusion and complaints.

The 5 Plastics That Nobody Should Be Using

Read the full post at MindBodyGreen.

Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes, the eco-entrepreneurs behind global recycling company TerraCycle, have a pretty unique take on trash. Their new book, Make Garbage Great, explores the history of human waste and presents some creative ideas to make less of it in the future. Here’s what they have to say about plastic.

Human beings manufacture nearly 200 billion pounds of plastic every year. To really grasp that figure, consider these facts: there are also about 200 billion stars in the Milky Way and approximately the same number of galaxies in the entire universe.

We are endangering the long-term well-being of the planet because of a desire for short-term wealth and material objects. As a consumer, the power to purchase is directly in your hands. Here are five plastic products everyone should be avoiding.