Month: October 2017

Why businesses and state governments aren’t waiting for federal action on chemicals transparency

Read the full story at EDF+Business.

As a Trump Administration appointee tries to dismantle EPA’s credibility as a guardian of public health and the environment, other actors have been stepping up. We recently examined retailers leading the way on removing chemicals of concern from the marketplace – but there has also been significant activity from state governments and companies to increase transparency about the chemicals we are exposed to every day and to empower consumers to make informed decisions about their product purchases.

These Sustainably Produced Cleaning Wipes Herald A Manufacturing Revolution

Read the full story in Forbes.

Chemical manufacturer Solugen, which uses an enzymatic process to turn plant sugars into hydrogen peroxide, announced today that they’re introducing a new line of cleaning wipes, using its hydrogen peroxide compound and biodegradable wipes. The wipes, called Ode to Clean, will start out being sold directly over the internet to businesses and consumers.

Carbon coating gives biochar its garden-greening power

Read the full story at Colorado State University.

For more than 100 years, biochar, a carbon-rich, charcoal-like substance made from oxygen-deprived plant or other organic matter, has both delighted and puzzled scientists. As a soil additive, biochar can store carbon and thus reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it can slow-release nutrients to act as a non-toxic fertilizer.

But the precise chemistry by which biochar stores nutrients and promotes plant growth has remained a mystery, so its commercial potential has been severely limited.

Now, an international team of researchers, with key contributions by Colorado State University experts, has illuminated unprecedented detail and mechanistic understanding of biochar’s seemingly miraculous properties. The Nature Communications study, led by Germany’s University of Tuebingen and published Oct. 20, demonstrated how composting of biochar creates a very thin organic coating that significantly improves the biochar’s fertilizing capabilities. A combination of advanced analytical techniques confirmed that the coating strengthens the biochar’s interactions with water and its ability to store soil nitrates and other nutrients.

Webinar: National Stormwater Calculator for Managing Runoff Using Green Infrastructure: Addition of a Cost Module and a Mobile Web App

Wed, Nov 15, 2017 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CST
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Stormwater discharges continue to cause impairment of our Nation’s waterbodies. Conventional stormwater infrastructure, or gray infrastructure, is largely designed to move stormwater away from urban areas through pipes and conduit. Runoff from these surfaces can overwhelm sewer systems and end up contaminating local waterways. When stormwater runs off impervious streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and rooftops, it can carry pollutants to streams, rivers, and lakes. Runoff flows can also cause erosion and flooding that can damage property, infrastructure, and wildlife habitat. In addition to runoff problems, impervious surfaces also prevent water from penetrating the soil and recharging groundwater supplies.

Green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, and porous pavement, is becoming an increasingly attractive way to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that flows into wastewater treatment plants or into waterbodies untreated, and to recharge aquifers. It provides many environmental, social, and economic benefits that promote urban livability, such as improved surface water quality, water conservation, and improved aesthetic and property value.  EPA researchers have been studying green infrastructure practices and developing models and tools to help communities manage their stormwater runoff and address nutrient impairment.

EPA developed the National Stormwater Calculator (SWC) to help support local, state, and national stormwater management objectives and regulatory efforts to reduce runoff through infiltration and retention using green infrastructure practices as low impact development controls. It is designed to be used by anyone interested in reducing runoff from a property, including site developers, landscape architects, urban planners, and homeowners. It can be used for any location within the United States, including Puerto Rico. This webinar will provide potential and example applications, and will present the new cost module and mobile web application version that can be used on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Industry Experts Develop Creative Waste Reduction Solutions at Hack:Trash:NYC

Read the full story at Waste360.

New York City has a goal to reach zero waste by 2030. And to help the city reach that ambitious goal, approximately 100 product designers, engineers, waste and recycling experts and environmental lawyers teamed up this weekend to participate in Hack:Trash:NYC, a three-day collaborative competition to reduce waste in New York City. The theme for Hack:Trash:NYC was reuse, and the competition challenged teams to “develop and pitch an innovative product, business model, service, policy or education campaign that increases reuse in NYC and results in a meaningful diversion of waste from landfill.”

Costco develops new safer chemicals policy

Read the full story from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

We have some exciting news on Costco! We’re pleased to report that Costco has announced that it is committing to reducing harmful chemicals in the products it sells by adopting a new Chemicals Management Policy! Fewer hazardous chemicals on Costco’s shelves mean fewer hazardous chemicals in our homes, our bodies, and our environment.

Making a Difference: Strategies for Successful Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

Download the document.

Energy efficiency is a powerful tool for lowering the disproportionate energy costs faced by low-income customers. Unfortunately, lack of capital, lack of credit, and aging housing stock that may need health and safety improvements often prevent these consumers from taking advantage of low-income energy efficiency programs. This report delves into programs that have overcome these barriers to achieve high participation and deliver deep savings. We explore the key features that make these offerings successful, including leveraging of diverse funding sources, targeted program offerings, statewide coordination and partnerships, and a focus on quality control.

Consider the plastic drinking straw: Why do we suck so much?

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Maybe it’s that you don’t want to put your mouth where other mouths have been. Or maybe you’ve been sucking for so long, sucking has become your default setting. You are thirsty. You are at lunch, and your waiter just brought you a cold glass of water.

Enter the straw.

Minn. company, executives charged in PCB case

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

A federal grand jury in Minneapolis has charged two executives and their environmental company with fraud in the mishandling of toxic chemicals.

Farmer sequestering carbon for better soil health

Read the full story in the Post Bulletin.

If you’re Jon Luhman, you’re trying to sock some away in the ground. Preferably for a rainy day.

Luhman and his son, Jared Luhman, raise beef cows, black beans and corn, plus forage for the cattle — all of it organic — on a little more than 700 acres at Dry Creek Red Angus farm, northwest of Goodhue.

In the process, Luhman is putting carbon back into the soil, a process he said helps his farm in a multitude of ways.

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