U.S. backs G-20 plastics deal, but climate split persists

Read the full story from ClimateWire.

The United States and Japan joined 18 other countries yesterday in backing the creation of a new international “framework” to curb ocean plastics after rejecting a stronger Canadian proposal on the same topic last year.

Nations agreed to the framework at the close of a two-day meeting of Group of 20 energy and environment ministers in Karuizawa, Japan. It includes a commitment by the G-20’s members to annually compile and disclose data on their own plastics production and disposal.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who represented the United States at the weekend meeting with Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, told The Washington Post last week that marine plastics would be his personal focus for the meeting.

But where governments ranging from the European Union to Canada are taking steps to regulate single-use plastics, Wheeler saw no need for bans on products like plastic straws.

Deconstruction & Reuse Conference 2019

October 28 – 30, 2019
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
More information and registration. Early bird discount expires July 31, 2019

The equivalent of 40 New York cities are going to be built around the world every month for the next 40 years. Construction and demolition waste are 40% of our landfills. We all live and work in buildings, so we all have a stake in how they are built, how they are maintained and how they come down.

The deconstruction of buildings and the reuse of their materials limits waste and preserves resources while creating jobs, expanding local economies, and supporting local community development. Deconstruction & Reuse 19 (DRC19) is the only national conference that looks at how communities can create, support and develop reuse economies. This year it comes to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania October 28th to 30th.

Keynote speakers at DRC19 will include Francesca Russello Ammon, author of Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape,  and Elma Durmisevic of 4D Architects in Amsterdam and Research Leader of BAMB Reversible Building
Design, an EU Horizon 2020 project enabling a systemic shift to a circular building sector with 15 partners in 7 countries working together.

Sessions will cover three tracks:

  • Buildings: how do we design, engineer, deconstruct, and preserve our buildings to sustain their value?
  • Reuse Economics: exploring the operational side of reuse centers, including retail markets, best practices, operational systems, and process efficiencies.
  • Communities: how can deconstruction and reuse support workforce development and jobs, community development, and local economies? How are communities facing the challenge of practicing and legislating for deconstruction and reuse?

Attendees will hear from the top deconstruction and reuse professionals across the nation, as well as architects, engineers, designers, and historic preservationists who are finding creative ways to build a world without waste. We will also explore how cities like Portland, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; Vancouver BC;  San Antonio, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; and others are exploring deconstruction and reuse to help mitigate the effects of climate change, to promote environmental justice, and build community resilience.

Why Food Reformers Have Mixed Feelings About Eco-Labels

Read the full story at NPR.

Take a walk through the grocery store; the packages are talking to you, proclaiming their moral virtue, appealing to your ideals: organic, cage-free, fair trade.

When I dug into the world of eco-labels recently, I was surprised to find that some of the people who know these labels best are ambivalent about them.

As Water Scarcity Increases, Desalination Plants Are on the Rise

Read the full story at e360.

After decades of slow progress, desalination is increasingly being used to provide drinking water around the globe. Costs for processing salt water for drinking water have dropped, but it remains an expensive option and one that creates environmental problems that must be addressed.

How one fern hoards toxic arsenic in its fronds and doesn’t die

Read the full story in Science News.

The Chinese brake fern looks unassuming. But Pteris vittata has a superpower: It sucks up arsenic, tucks the toxic metal away in its fronds and lives to tell the tale.

No other plants or animals are known to match its ability to hoard the heavy metal. Now researchers have identified three genes essential to how the fern accumulates arsenic, according to a study in the May 20 Current Biology.

Researchers Turn to Microgrids to Improve Energy System Efficiency

Read the full story in R&D Magazine.

Microgrids—local energy grids with independent control capabilities—have significant benefits when it comes to delivery energy to homes, business and other buildings.

These energy systems are typically connected to the  central power grid, but can break off and operate independently using local energy generation powered by distributed generators, batteries or other renewable resources.

A group of researchers from Lehigh University, the Global Energy Interconnection Research Institute North America and Zhejiang University in China are working to improve microgrids, developing a new robust direct current (DC) microgrid system that can deliver energy safely without interruptions from inclement weather or system overload due to peak consumption.

Four states account for more than half of U.S. wind electricity generation

Read the full story from the Energy Information Administration.

In the United States, producers generated 275 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity from wind power in 2018. Of that, more than half came from just four states: Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas. Five other states—California, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Colorado—provided another 20% of total wind generation in the country.

wind energy

Waitrose supermarket trials refillable, packaging-free products

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Waitrose has transformed one of its stores as it seeks to trial a range of green innovations designed to slash waste levels and encourage customers to embrace more sustainable products.

Innovations debuted at the Botley Road supermarket in Oxford include a dedicated refillable zone designed to eradicate single-use packaging, which will offer refillable options for products such as wine, beer, cereals, coffee and cleaning products, a “borrow-a-box” scheme, and the United Kingdom’s first frozen “pick and mix.”

Dell calls on EU to address problem of e-waste

Read the full story at The Verdict.

Dell is urging European governments and the IT industry to work towards a ‘’more sustainable future in the procurement of IT services”.

The company is calling for European Commission to support the development of industry guidelines for sustainable procurement and disposal of electronic equipment, as well as a system to rank progress across member states.

It has also urged member state governments to adopt “sustainable by default” across public procurement policy, and encourage collaboration with the IT industry.

Furthermore, it has called on the industry to develop guidelines for creating a sustainable IT lifecycle.

Airlines Roll Out Green Schemes to Boost Environmental Credentials

Read the full story at Skift.

Back in 1972, the United Nations established June 5 as World Environment Day in an effort to raise awareness of the various harmful ways humans affect the planet. This year, air pollution is the theme.

Airlines are keenly aware of their role in damaging the atmosphere, given that they account for about 2% of annual global carbon emissions. So it’s probably not a surprise that, this month, a few of them are showing how they’re trying to shrink their footprint.

One of them has an experiment lined up for Wednesday morning, the very day chosen by the UN: United has scheduled a flight to California that’s going to go all green.