Day: March 15, 2018

To Track Opioid Use, More Cities May Soon Screen Wastewater

Read the full story in Governing.

A new tech startup allows cities to chart drug usage down to the neighborhood level.

Sustainability Webinar Series: Trash to Cash in the Events Industry and How to Gain Tangible Benefits from Sustainable Practices

Tue, Mar 27, 2018 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT
Register at

2018 is an exciting year for sustainability in the industry. We so often think of being green as an environmental protection initiative, but there are also great opportunities for the bank account to become a little greener as well. We will explore a donation first approach to turning “trash into cash,” as well as the benefits that donation brings to local community organizations. Sustainable event planning is a growing standard and it is now more important than ever to track the impact we are having from an environmental footprint aspect in the events industry.

Join our webinar host, EIC Sustainability Committee member Chance Thompson, and learn how they track materials and resource reduction at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake, Utah. We will discuss how partnering with exhibitors and decorators (such as Freeman and GES) helps boost this approach and provide beneficial information to meeting planners and their stakeholders. In addition, we will discuss hard-to-recycle opportunities through partnership with the impressive TerraCycle out of New Jersey.

Learning outcomes

  1. Learn how to turn trash to gold through partnerships with venues, exhibitors/decorators (led by our speakers from Freeman and GES), caterers, and meeting planners
  2. Learn the value of tracking materials through sustainability reports, helping to build great communication and marketing material for your organization and its stakeholders
  3. Learn about opportunities for hard-to-recycle items through TerraCycle’s creative recycling resources


  • Chance Thompson, Senior Manager, Sustainability and Public Relations for SMG at the Salt Palace Convention Center and Member, Events Industry Council Sustainability Committee
  • Joy Nemerson, Manager Strategic Partnerships, TerraCycle
  • Kathy Embler, CMP, National Account Manager, GES – Jessica Paige Glenn, Sustainability Manager, Freeman

Technology Assessment : Chemical Innovation: Technologies to Make Processes and Products More Sustainable

Download the document.

What GAO Found

Stakeholders lack agreement on how to define sustainable chemistry and how to measure or assess the sustainability of chemical processes and products; these differences hinder the development and adoption of more sustainable chemistry technologies. However, based on a review of the literature and stakeholder interviews, GAO identified several common themes underlying what sustainable chemistry strives to achieve, including:

  • improve the efficiency with which natural resources—including energy, water, and materials—are used to meet human needs for chemical products while avoiding environmental harm;
  • reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and use of chemical products;
  • protect and benefit the economy, people, and the environment using innovative chemical tranformations;
  • consider all life cycle stages including manufacture, use, and disposal (see figure) when evaluating the environmental impact of a product; and
  • minimize the use of non-renewable resources.

Life cycle of chemical processes and products

GAO identified three categories of more sustainable chemistry technologies—catalysts, solvents, and continuous processing—that demonstrate both progress and potential.

  • Catalysts reduce the energy input required for a chemical process and allow for more efficient use of materials. Stakeholders suggested future research be directed at developing less toxic or renewable catalysts, including those that are metal-free or those from earth-abundant metals such as iron.
  • Solvents are used in many chemical processes but can create waste issues and be toxic. Alternatives include solvents from renewable, non-petroleum raw materials and solvents such as water that are less hazardous to human health and the environment, among other qualities.
  • An alternative to traditional batch processing is continuous processing, in which materials react as they flow along a system of channels, pipes, or tubes. Compared to batch processing, continuous processing uses materials more efficiently, generates less waste, and has a smaller physical footprint.

The federal government and other stakeholders play several roles, sometimes in collaboration, to advance the development and use of more sustainable chemistry technologies. The federal government has supported research, provided technical assistance, and offered certification programs, while stakeholders have integrated sustainable chemistry principles into educational programs and addressed chemicals of concern in consumer products. While switching to more sustainable options entails challenges, this field has the potential to inspire new products and processes, create jobs, and enhance benefits to human health and the environment. Stakeholders identified strategic implications of sustainable chemistry and offered a range of potential options to address challenges and realize the full potential of these technologies, including the following:

  • Breakthrough technologies in sustainable chemistry could transform how the industry thinks about performance, function, and synthesis. Sustainable chemistry creates opportunities to use a different conceptual framework that allows industry to create molecules with better performance.
  • The establishment of an organized constituency, with the involvement of both industry and government, could help make sustainable chemistry a priority. An industry consortium, working in partnership with a key supporter at the federal level, could lead to an effective national initiative or strategy.
  • A national initiative that considers sustainable chemistry in a systematic manner could be useful. Such an effort could encourage collaborations among industry, academia and the government, similar to other national technology Initiatives.
  • There are opportunities for the federal government to address industry-wide challenges. Federal attention that facilitates development of standard tools for assessment and a robust definition could help clarify relevant participants in the field and improve information available for decision-makers at all levels.

According to stakeholders, transitioning toward the use of more sustainable chemistry technologies will require national leadership and industry, government, and other stakeholders to work together.

Why GAO Did This Study

Chemistry contributes to virtually every aspect of modern life and the chemical industry supports more than 25 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States. While these are positive contributions, chemical production can have negative health and environmental consequences. Mitigating these potential consequences requires thoughtful design and evaluation of the life cycle effects of chemical processes and products.

GAO was asked to conduct a technology assessment to explore, among other things, the opportunities, challenges, and federal roles in sustainable chemistry. This report discusses (1) how stakeholders define and assess sustainable chemistry; (2) available or developing technologies to make chemical processes and products more sustainable; and (3) how the federal government, industry and others contribute to the development and use of such technologies.

GAO selected for assessment three technology categories—catalysts, solvents, and continuous processing; interviewed stakeholders from various fields, such as government, industry, and academia; convened a meeting of experts on sustainable chemistry technologies and approaches; and surveyed a non-generalizable sample of chemical companies. GAO is not making recommendations in this report, but is identifying strategic implications.

College Republicans Propose an Unusual Idea From the Right: A Carbon Tax

Read the full story in the New York Times.

As the Republican Party struggles to find its footing with the next generation of voters, several conservative college groups have banded together to champion something anathema to the party: a carbon tax.

Trump’s own budget office admits Obama-era regulations brought billions in benefits

Read the full post from the Environmental Defense Fund.

What do you do when a new report undermines a narrative you’ve used to forcefully promote your agenda? You release it on a Friday evening with minimal media outreach, hoping nobody takes notice.

At least, that’s what the Trump administration did with a recent report discrediting his administration’s claim that federal protections impose debilitating costs on our economy and society.

Webinar: Climate Adaptation Policy at the State and Local Level

Mon, Apr 16, 2018 12:15 PM – 1:45 PM CDT
Register at

Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, with the American Society of Adaptation Professionals and the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, is hosting a new five-webinar series — “Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience Leadership Series”. This is the first webinar in the new series and focuses on climate policy. Panelists include Michael McCormick, California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, and Guy Williams, on the Detroit Climate Action Plan. This session will be moderated by Elizabeth Graffy, Professor of Practice at the Arizona State University’s Center for Science, Policy & Outcomes and a Senior Sustainability Scientist at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Subsequent webinars will address Innovations in Climate Solutions and Climate Justice and Adaptation plus other timely and impactful subjects.

Illinois Indiana Sea Grant is seeking motivated students for 2018 summer internships

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant announces the following positions for the 2018 Summer Student Internship Program. Successful applicants will spend 12 weeks working closely with a Sea Grant specialist on issues affecting the Great Lakes. Internships can include research, communications, and outreach components. Applicants may also have the opportunity to participate in activities outside of their specific internship duties.  These are paid internship opportunities. For more information visit Application packets are due by March 26.

Internships, open to undergraduates, are available in the following areas:

  • Aquaculture Product Development
  • Great Lakes Revitalization
  • Lake Michigan Fisheries Genomics
  • Pollution Prevention
  • Sustainable Communities

All inquiries should be directed to Angela Archer, IISG fellowship program leader,, Purdue University, 765-496-3722.

ECOTOX Update Improves Search for Environmental Chemical Toxicity Data

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

ECOTOX now includes more advanced data and search capabilities, a default output focusing on critical data, new graphical data visualization tools, and direct linkages to other EPA chemical knowledgebases.  These updates will help regulated industries, regulators, researchers, and others to more rapidly and easily search for data of interest, and to identify the most critical data from outputs in response to data queries.

ECOTOX 5.0 is now available in beta version, offering an opportunity, particularly for external current users, to provide feedback before this updated version becomes final and replaces the current Version 4.0.

Chicago greenprint update maps fate of natural resources

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

City planners in Chicago are mapping natural resources to help figure out where to build houses and preserve open spaces.

Microplastic pollution in oceans is far worse than feared, say scientists

Read the full story in The Guardian.

A study reveals highest microplastic pollution levels ever recorded in a river in Manchester, UK and shows that billions of particles flooded into the sea from rivers in the area in just one year.

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