Fake Riverbanks Turn a Chicago Canal ‘Wild’

Read the full story from CityLab.

Chicago’s manmade North Branch Canal is polluted and lacks natural habitat. Enter 80 coconut-fiber “islands” that host wildlife and filter the water.

Indiana steel mill emits 18,000 pounds of lead a year. Is it blowing toward Chicago?

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

The nation’s largest source of industrial lead pollution is just 20 miles down the Lake Michigan shore from Chicago, churning more than twice as much of the brain-damaging metal into the air each year as all other factories in the region combined.

ArcelorMittal’s steel mill in Burns Harbor, Ind., emitted nearly 18,000 pounds of lead during 2016 and has topped the national list since a Missouri lead smelter shut down in 2013, according to a Tribune analysis of federal records that raises new questions about the oversight of big lakefront polluters by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Burns Harbor plant also emitted 173,000 pounds of benzene during 2016, the newspaper’s analysis revealed, making the sprawling steel-making complex by far the nation’s largest industrial source of a volatile chemical known to cause leukemia.

Lead and benzene pollution from the steel mill rose sharply during the past decade as airborne levels of both toxic substances dropped nationwide. More pollution could be on the way if Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel-maker, ramps up U.S. production in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial tariff on imported steel.

Yet regulators can’t explain where the steel mill’s pollution ends up.

The EPA says TCE causes cancer, so why hasn’t it been banned?

Read the full story at Marketplace.

The federal government, on the verge of banning some uses of a carcinogenic industrial chemical at the close of the Obama administration, has delayed action under President Donald Trump and kept the chemical on the market.

The chemical, trichloroethylene (or TCE) has long been used for degreasing and cleaning metal parts in factories, but has been classified a “human carcinogen” by the Environmental Protection Agency since 2011. TCE has been linked to cancer in several industrial sites, including a toymaking plant in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon.

Trump administration to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements in move likely to spur legal battle with states

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Trump administration announced plans Thursday to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements for the nation’s cars and trucks through 2026 — a massive regulatory rollback likely to spur a legal battle with California and other states, as well as create potential upheaval in the nation’s automotive market.

St. Louis compost startup aims to support urban agriculture

Read the full story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Perennial City is a company that provides customers in St. Louis, Clayton and University City with a composting bucket to reduce their household waste. The company picks up customers’ buckets on a weekly or biweekly schedule and brings it to their urban farm for composing.

Attribution Science: Climate Change & Extreme Weather

Read the full story from SciLine.

Extreme weather events such as life-threatening heat waves and record-breaking downpours are part of the natural climate system, but by definition they are relatively infrequent—even rare. In recent decades, however, some kinds of extreme weather events have become more common. Science has linked some of these general increases to climate change, but it has been difficult until recently to say with confidence whether any single extreme weather event was directly linked to, much less “caused by,” climate change. Advances in computer processing power and improved methods for sorting out the many factors that contribute to weather are now allowing scientists not only to determine the extent to which climate change is contributing to classes of extreme weather but also to say with confidence that certain extreme weather events would not or could not have occurred but for climate change. This is the science of extreme event attribution.

Delta upcycling 350k pounds of ‘retired uniforms’ into travel bags, passport covers

Read the full story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Delta’s massive uniform overhaul isn’t quite done yet, as the Atlanta-based airline is partnering on what it calls the “largest single company textile diversion programs in U.S. history.”

As part of a multi-billion dollar companywide makeover, Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) outfitted its 64,000 employees in new uniforms on May 29. That meant “retirement” of more than one million pieces from old uniforms, which typically would be sent to landfills. Instead, Delta said it partnered with Portland-based manufacturer Looptworks to “upcycle” and repurpose more than 350,000 pounds of clothing, which is being used to create items such as backpacks, passport covers and accessories.

Why Starbucks’s plastic straw ban might not help the environment

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Getting rid of straws is a step toward ending plastic waste–but if it just involves replacing them with hard-to-recycle plastic lids, it may not do much good at all.


Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change

Read the full story in the New York Times.

This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change. Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz. With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.

See also The Atlantic’s The Problem With The New York Times’ Big Story on Climate Change.

Rich’s piece makes for vivid history. It alludes to plenty of real changes: the fracturing of a unified political elite, the breakdown of the alliance between high science and the national-security state. But it’s tempting, when revisiting the past, to assume that everything was better then. The history of just about every major American political issue is contested; it’s not surprising that climate change should be the same. But any sensible narrative of climate politics has to start and finish with the idea that opposition to climate policy grew in parallel with the scientific case for action. Telling the wrong story makes the case for action look easier than it is.


Ketchup Packets to Get Makeover in Kraft Heinz Recycling Push

Read the full story from Bloomberg.

The ketchup packet’s days could be numbered as Kraft Heinz Co. plans to overhaul its global packaging designs to find greener alternatives.

The Chicago-based food giant said Tuesday it will make 100 percent of its packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. Over the next seven years, the company will partner with experts, organizations and industry coalitions to develop alternative recycled materials in its packaging.