Day: May 20, 2019

Researchers develop viable, environmentally-friendly alternative to Styrofoam

Read the full story from Washington State University.

Washington State University researchers have developed an environmentally-friendly, plant-based material that for the first time works better than Styrofoam for insulation.

The foam is mostly made from nanocrystals of cellulose, the most abundant plant material on earth. The researchers also developed an environmentally friendly and simple manufacturing process to make the foam, using water as a solvent instead of other harmful solvents.

The work, led by Amir Ameli, assistant professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Xiao Zhang, associate professor in the Gene and Linda School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, is published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers.

He went where no human had gone before. Our trash had already beaten him there.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

When Victor Vescovo’s submarine hit the floor of the Mariana Trench, it sent the sediment swirling.

“At bottom,” the Texas businessman-turned-extreme-explorer said into his headset. “Repeat: at bottom.”

In a control room more than 35,850 feet above, Vescovo’s dive team clapped and cheered. Congratulations were in order: they had just set a record. The American had descended deeper into the ocean than any person before him. An upturned Mount Everest would still be a mile from where his vessel then sat.

Vescovo spent four hours down there, he told The Washington Post. The crevice in the western Pacific Ocean is one of the most remote places on Earth, where the sun doesn’t shine and the pressure is crushing. He was literally charting new territory, mapping his route for future researchers, when he noticed something familiar among the otherworldly terrain.

Trash.

Some sort of plastic waste. Initial reports indicated it was a bag, or maybe a candy wrapper. But those theories weren’t quite right, officials now say. Whether it was flotsam or jetsam is secondary. The find is, no matter what, the imprint of a species that has polluted the planet like none other. A people whose detritus precedes them.

Why Some Wineries Are Becoming ‘Certified B Corp’ — And What That Means

Read the full story from NPR.

While organic or biodynamic certifications are big buzzwords in winemaking today, B Corp calls for full transparency in the way a company conducts business — and not just in the vineyard. B Corp companies strive to be stewards of social change. As conversations around mindful winemaking continue to evolve, more wineries are aspiring to receive this certification.

B Corp was launched in 2006 by three friends who left their careers in private equity and business to help mission-driven businesses thrive. Within its first year, 19 businesses opted to get certified. Today, companies such as Toms shoes, Eileen Fisher, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters carry the seal. Its principles are built on what’s often referred to as the three P’s of sustainability: people, planet and profit. Certified B Corp companies are reevaluated every three years to ensure they maintain the standards of the program, which look at impact on communities, workers, customers and the environment. Every aspect of a business is analyzed, from supply chain to facilities to ingredients.

New electrochemical method detects PFOS and PFOA

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Bubbles and tiny electrodes may hold the key to faster, more cost-effective detection of perfluorinated surfactants that can contaminate drinking water. Researchers have developed an electrochemistry-based method to detect surfactants, specifically perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), with high sensitivity and specificity (Anal. Chem. 2019, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b01060).

2019 Airports Going Green Conference

November 3-6, 2019 | Chicago, IL
More information: https://www.aaae.org/green

The American Association of Airport Executives and the City of Chicago Department of Aviation invite you to the 12th Airports Going Green Conference, November 3-6, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois.

Airports Going Green (AGG) is the aviation industry’s leading forum on sustainability. Since its beginning, AGG has enjoyed international recognition from airports, airlines, industry associations, and government agencies. Conference attendees participate in key discussions with airport business partners, government leaders, and top-level speakers from around the world.

The theme of the 2019 conference is Destination: Sustainable Airports, with a special focus on all aspects of sustainable airport terminals, including planning, design, construction, operations, maintenance, implementation, passenger experience, stakeholder coordination, community outreach, and social responsibility. Speakers are invited to share success stories and innovations, as well as challenges and lessons-learned.

Who Should Attend?

  • Airport Executives, Board Members and Commissioners
  • Airport Sustainability, Customer Service, Innovation and Environmental experts
  • Airport Construction Professionals
  • Airport Concessionaires and Supply Chain Services (e.g. rental cars, facility management, cargo, etc.)
  • Airline Executives and Board Members
  • Airline Sustainability, Customer Service, Innovation and Environmental experts
  • Aviation Industry executives
  • Government officials responsible for Sustainability, Environment, Transportation and similar
  • Aviation Equipment Manufacturers
  • Academia in Aviation and/or Sustainability, Customer Service, Innovation and Environmental fields
  • Media Professionals in the area of Aviation and/or Sustainability, Customer Service, Innovation, and Environmental Issuesx

What’s All This About a Water Tax?

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has made repairing hundreds of failing drinking-water systems in California a big priority since taking office, giving fresh momentum to an entrenched problem the state’s leaders have long struggled to resolve.

But his proposed solution — a $140 million yearly tax raised in part through fees on urban water districts — has raised eyebrows in a state where residents already feel overtaxed.

Developments on CO2-utilization technologies

Qian Zhu (2019). “Developments on CO2-utilization technologies.” Clean Energyzkz008. https://doi.org/10.1093/ce/zkz008

Abstract: As an additional CO2-mitigation strategy to carbon capture and storage, CO2capture and utilization (CCU) is attracting increasing interest globally. The potential applications of CCU are diverse, ranging from using CO2 in greenhouses and farming to conversion of CO2 into fuels, chemicals, polymers and building materials. CO2 has already been used for decades with mature technologies in various industrial processes such as CO2-enhanced oil recovery, the food and beverage industry, urea production, water treatment and the production of fire retardants and coolants. There are also many new CO2-utilization technologies at various stages of development and commercialization. These technologies have the potential to provide opportunities for emission savings for power and other industrial sectors by partially substituting fossil-fuel raw materials, increasing efficiency and using renewable energy, and generating revenues through producing marketable products. This paper investigates the CO2-utilization technologies that convert CO2 into commercial products via chemical and biochemical reactions with a focus on front-running technologies that are at, or close to, large-scale demonstration or commercialization. The CO2-utilization technologies are grouped according to the technological routes used, such as electrochemical, photocatalytic and photosynthetic, catalytic, biological process (using microbes and enzymes), copolymerization and mineralization. Recent developments and the status of the CO2-utilization technologies are reviewed. The environmental impact of CCU is also discussed in terms of life-cycle analysis.

The UN’s Basel Convention takes significant steps against marine plastics, microplastics and plastic littering

Read the full story in Recycling Magazine.

Countries across the world worked together to create a step-change in the Basel Convention itself in order to alleviate the damage plastic does to life in the oceans and on land. The significant change at the recent meetings has been in categorising non-hazardous plastic waste that is not recyclable or is difficult to recycle as a waste requiring special consideration, and listing it in Annex II under the Basel Convention. Bringing non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle plastic wastes under the Convention will – according to BIR –  reduce their transboundary movement and force countries to do more to manage their own plastic waste at the point of generation.

Not only will movements of non-recyclable or difficult-to-recycle plastic wastes now be reduced and controlled, but also countries will work together under the Basel Convention Partnership for Plastic Wastes and will undertake more actions and initiatives so as better to manage plastics.

Advancing Inclusion through Clean Energy Jobs

Download the document.

Focused squarely on the workforce side of the clean energy transition, this analysis intends to help energy-sector professionals, state and local policymakers, regional education and training sector leaders, and community organizations get a clearer look at the nature, needs, and opportunities associated with the future clean energy workforce. In particular, this analysis aims to explore the extent to which such occupations will offer inclusive pathways to economic opportunity.

State of Integrated and Sustainability Reporting 2018

Read the full story from the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.

Sustainability reporting for large public companies around the world has become the norm. Si2’s research this year (2018) found that 78 percent of the S&P 500 issued a sustainability report for the most recent reporting period, most with environmental and social performance metrics. The rate of sustainability reporting for the world’s largest companies is even higher, with some figures noting as high as 93 percent. [1] This is a starkly different picture from the 1980s, when a handful of companies in vulnerable sectors—extractives and chemicals, which had to respond to public backlash against environmental mishaps—were the only ones to publish environmental reports with limited performance metrics. It was not until the 1990s that sustainability reports as we know them today started gaining traction, after the concept of “triple bottom line”—environmental, social and economic—corporate performance was introduced and became popular.

Integrated reporting reflects a critical point in the evolution of financial accounting practice. Its core purpose is to ensure that organizations provide a more accurate account of their creation or destruction of value among the different forms of capital. It achieves this by shifting the focus away from the traditional exclusivity of financial measurement.

— Dr. Robert Massie (Co-founder), GRI

Now, almost three decades later, the landscape is again ripe for a shift. This time, the new concept is “value creation,” that companies should create shared value for all—including investors, employees, suppliers, communities and the environment. Proponents say that companies should disclose how they integrate the triple bottom line impacts through a more holistic report of its inputs and outputs, through what’s called an integrated report. Integrated reports would elevate the status of material sustainability matters to be commensurate with financial ones, and help investors make more informed decisions.

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