How Military Outsourcing Turned Toxic

Read the full story in ProPublica.

The military is one of the country’s largest polluters, with an inventory of toxic sites on American soil that once topped 39,000. At many locations, the Pentagon has relied on contractors like U.S. Technology to assist in cleaning and restoring land, removing waste, clearing unexploded bombs, and decontaminating buildings, streams and soil. In addition to its work for Barksdale, U.S. Technology had won some 830 contracts with other military facilities — Army, Air Force, Navy and logistics bases — totaling more than $49 million, many of them to dispose of similar powders.

In taking on environmental cleanup jobs, contractors often bring needed expertise to technical tasks the Pentagon isn’t equipped to do itself. They also absorb much of the legal responsibility for disposing of military-made hazards, in some cases helping the Pentagon — at least on paper — winnow down its list of toxic liabilities.

But in outsourcing this work, the military has often struggled to provide adequate oversight to ensure that work is done competently — or is completed at all. Today, records show, some of the most dangerous cleanup work that has been entrusted to contractors remains unfinished, or worse, has been falsely pronounced complete, leaving people who live near former military sites to assume these areas are now safe.

In practice: Network Rail’s closed-loop partnership to recycle waste coffee grounds

Read the full story at

Striking a partnership with coffee waste collectors Bio-Bean enabled Network Rail to make steps in reducing waste at its station, and also got retailers and staff to boost coffee collection to be used for renewable power.

How to Balance Competing Priorities in Manufacturing: Q&A with Eastman Chemical

Read the full story at Environmental Leader.

Chances are that Eastman Chemical Company had a hand in making products you know well, from beverage bottles to medical devices to the paint that coats vehicles. Headquartered in Kingsport, Tennessee, the company manufactures advanced materials and specialty additives for customers in more than 100 countries. Last year revenues totaled approximately $9 billion.

In April, for the fourth year in a row, Eastman received the EPA’s Energy Star Partner of the Year-Sustained Excellence Award, which recognized 2016 achievements that included reducing energy intensity by more than 3% in 2015, initiating more than 100 energy-savings projects focused on steam and electrical systems, and realizing a 10% reduction in energy intensity at two sites in under five years. Eastman is currently the only chemical company to receive this award.

“We want to think strategically and holistically about the resources we use,” says Sharon Nolen, Eastman Chemical Company’s manager of global natural resources. A chemical engineer by training as well as a certified energy manager, Nolen also serves as Eastman’s primarily liaison with Energy Star and the DOE’s Better Plants program. Recently we caught up with her to find out how she fosters an efficiency improvement mindset across the organization to save water, energy, and money.

It’s All About the Chain, Gang: Procurement the Link to Sustainable Supply Chains

Read the full story in Sustainable Brands.

There is now an international standard to guide sustainable procurement. ISO 20400 lays tracks for a sustainable economy. As a member of the Canadian technical committee that advised on the standard, I can confirm it is a robust, comprehensive, and highly ambitious framework. Supply management teams should benchmark their own practices against this guidance.

Another handy sustainable supply chain tool is the Best Practice Framework for Sustainable Procurement. This tool profiles next-generation sustainable procurement practices such as Risk, Opportunity and Innovation; Supplier Engagement; and Buyer Collaboration as top strategies to proactively identify transition opportunities.


Commentary: Unsolicited and Unwelcome, Climate Denial Comes to Schools

Read the full post at Science of Learning.

So far this year, tens of thousands of teachers (at both the K–12 and university levels) have received a packet from Heartland, and the institute has stated its intention to get one to every educator in the country. The envelopes feature an intentionally misleading headline from either The New York Times (“Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General,” November 5, 2013) or Environment & Climate News (“Study: Science Teachers Giving Unbalanced Education on Climate Change,” May 2016). The headlines lend an authoritative air to the mailing, unless the recipient is aware that Environment & Climate News is a Heartland newsletter. In fact, the name “The Heartland Institute” does not appear anywhere on the envelopes that I have seen. Might a busy science teacher rip open a package from a reputable news organization thinking it could contain worthwhile materials? That presumably is the hope.


Drinking Water Isn’t Safe for Millions of Americans. It’s Up to States to Fix.

Read the full story in Governing.

A new report documents what environmental advocates say has been happening for decades: The federal government fails to protect Americans from potentially cancer-causing chemicals. And they have little hope that will change anytime soon.

Perc Dry Cleaners Co-Located in Residential Buildings Must Be Phased Out by 2020

In July, 2006 USEPA issued standards (40 CFR 63.322) that included phase-out of perchloroethylene (perc) dry-cleaning solvent machines located in residential buildings by December 21, 2020. Dry cleaners using perc machines located in residential buildings (co-located) will be prohibited from using perc and should begin planning to switch to alternative cleaning methods such as wet cleaning, carbon dioxide or hydrocarbon technology or relocate the perc dry cleaning solvent machines. Perc is an organic solvent of known human toxicity and USEPA reasoned that perc dry cleaners located in residential buildings posed the greatest risk to the general public.

The full text of the federal rule can be found at: