Day: August 21, 2018

Walmart becomes latest retailer to ban chemicals found in paint strippers

Read the full story in The Hill.

Walmart is joining the growing list of retailers that are banning paint strippers that contain two controversial chemicals tied to cancer.

The chain announced Monday that it will no longer sell products carrying paint strippers that contain methylene chloride and N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) starting in February.

Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere

Read the full story from NPR.

Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what’s out there.

Material Recycling and the Myth of Landfill Diversion

Zink, Trevor and Roland Geyer (2018). “Material Recycling and the Myth of Landfill Diversion.” Journal of Industrial Ecology Online ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12808

Abstract: Proponents of material recycling typically point to two environmental benefits: disposal (landfill/incinerator) reduction and primary production displacement. However, in this paper we mathematically demonstrate that, without displacement, recycling can delay but not prevent any existing end‐of‐life material from reaching final disposal. The only way to reduce the amount of material ultimately landfilled or incinerated is to produce less in the first place; material that is not made needs not be disposed. Recycling has the potential to reduce the amount of material reaching end of life solely by reducing primary production. Therefore, the “dual benefits” of recycling are in fact one, and the environmental benefit of material recycling rests in its potential to displace primary production. However, displacement of primary production from increased recycling is driven by market forces and is not guaranteed. Improperly assuming all recycled material avoids disposal underestimates the environmental impacts of the product system. We show that the potential magnitude of this error is substantial, though for inert recyclables it is lower than the error introduced by improperly assuming all recycled material displaces primary material production. We argue that life cycle assessment end‐of‐life models need to be updated so as not to overstate the benefits of recycling. Furthermore, scholars and policy makers should focus on finding and implementing ways to increase the displacement potential of recyclable materials rather than focusing on disposal diversion targets.

How does recycling work?

Read the full story in Mashable.

You probably have no idea how recycling works.

Most Americans — who recycle nearly 87 million tons of waste each year — likely think that the plastic and paper thrown into those special blue bins gets sorted by some nebulous government agency and automatically becomes an environmentally-friendly product.

But that’s not how it works. Recycling, first and foremost, is a business.

When recycled goods get picked up by the state’s waste management corporation, they are taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where everything is separated and packaged up to be sent to another facility where it’s processed depending on the material.

For example, paper is processed at a mill where it is turned into pulp to be repurposed.

But in order for the recyclable material to get to its proper sorting center, someone has to buy it first.

And that’s where we have a problem.

‘Recyclable’ is a word, not a promise — most plastic goes to landfills

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It seems like every week, a corporation maligned for its role in the plastic pollution crisis comes out with some new recycling pledge, accompanied by fanfare and applause. Just last month, Starbucks announced that it will be phasing out plastic straws in favor of “recyclable” plastic lids (containing more plastic than the old straw-and-lid combo did). Earlier this year, Pepsi pledged to make its packaging 100 percent recyclable by 2025, and Unilever committed to making its packaging 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable. Sounds like a step in the right direction — right?

No. These announcements may sound great, but they look painfully naive in the face of the growing storm that is the global plastic recycling market. At the same time that the news is filled with these flashy industry recycling pledges, we are getting an increasingly frantic story from across the country and the world that our plastic simply isn’t getting recycled.

Lower concentration limit proposed for PAHs found in granules and mulches

Read the full story from the European Chemicals Agency.

The Netherlands has prepared a proposal to support a possible restriction to address the risks from eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in granules and mulches used in synthetic turf pitches, or in loose forms at playgrounds and other sports facilities.

GC3 Announces Preservative Challenge Winners

Read the full story from Informa.

More than two years after its initial announcement, the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council’s Preservatives Challenge has wrapped, with seven winners named.

First-place winners include Avisco Ltd.(see chart). While the Aug. 6 announcement offers no detail on winning innovations, online information from the biotech startup puts its focus on the antimicrobial properties of Inula viscosa.

Trump administration is considering reweighing costs and benefits of EPA regulations

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

The Trump administration has the Environmental Protection Agency’s hood up and is studying how to slow the engine that drives the agency’s regulatory activities. In response to a broad presidential directive on degregulation, EPA political appointees are asking the public how to rewire an analytical motor that helps determine how strictly—or whether—the agency curbs pollution. Depending on what strategy they settle on, modifications could substantially pare back the agency’s horsepower for controlling pollution and weaken the limits it sets for water, air, and land.

Chemical Safety and Climate Change Preparedness

This site from the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance and Technology provides resources and models for incorporating toxics use reduction into emergency preparedness to reduce the risk of industrial accidents.

Hundreds of Researchers From Harvard, Yale and Stanford Were Published in Fake Academic Journals

Read the full story at Motherboard.

In the so-called “post-truth era,” science seems like one of the last bastions of objective knowledge, but what if science itself were to succumb to fake news? Over the past year, German journalist Svea Eckert and a small team of journalists went undercover to investigate a massive underground network of fake science journals and conferences.

In the course of the investigation, which was chronicled in the documentary “Inside the Fake Science Factory,” the team analyzed over 175,000 articles published in predatory journals and found hundreds of papers from academics at leading institutions, as well as substantial amounts of research pushed by pharmaceutical corporations, tobacco companies, and others. Last year, one fake science institution run by a Turkish family was estimated to have earned over $4 million in revenue through conferences and journals.

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