Growing green: Michigan marijuana presents water, air and energy challenges

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Michigan regulators are preparing for the environmental impact of the state’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana.

High demand and the new legal status will drive the growth of the state’s crop,  Marijuana Business Daily reported last November.

Associated with this expanding production are environmental concerns related to water and air quality, said Jill Greenberg, public information officer with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

As Trump Touts Ethanol, Scientists Question the Fuel’s Climate Claims

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

At a crucial moment in ethanol policy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is doubling down on its argument that ethanol is better than conventional fuel.

Science Has A Sustainability Problem

Read the full story at Five Thirty Eight.

The process of doing scientific research — even the kind of research dedicated to environmental sustainability — isn’t always environmentally sustainable itself. But even as scientists try to make their profession more green, they’re finding themselves struggling with a problem that’s familiar far beyond the halls of academia: How do you live sustainably when the things you need to live are often, by their very nature, unsustainable?

Food Loss and Waste: Building on Existing Federal Efforts Could Help to Achieve National Reduction Goal

Download the document.

GAO identified three key areas in which challenges exist to reducing food loss and waste (FLW) in the United States: (1) limited data and information about FLW; (2) a lack of awareness and education about FLW; and (3) limited infrastructure and capacity. For example, the causes of FLW vary across the stages of the food supply chain (see figure), but the share of total FLW due to each of these causes is currently unknown, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report. GAO identified these challenges through interviews with selected stakeholders.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and USDA have taken initial actions to address key challenges to reducing FLW in the United States since announcing a national FLW reduction goal in 2015. These actions include conducting a study to identify gaps in information about farm-level FLW and building public awareness about ways to reduce FLW.

EPA, USDA, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have taken some actions to plan and organize their efforts toward achieving the national FLW reduction goal. For example, EPA developed an internal plan that established action areas, goals, and activities for reducing FLW, and USDA designated an individual to guide USDA’s FLW efforts. In October 2018, EPA, USDA, and FDA signed an interagency agreement committing them to developing a strategic plan to improve their collaboration and coordination in reducing FLW. In April 2019, the agencies announced an interagency strategic plan with prioritized action areas to reduce FLW, but this strategic plan does not address how it will incorporate key practices for interagency collaboration that GAO identified, including (1) agreeing on roles and responsibilities; (2) developing mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results; (3) clearly defining short- and long-term outcomes; (4) identifying how leadership commitment will be sustained; and (5) ensuring that the relevant stakeholders have been included in the collaborative effort. By incorporating such practices as they implement their interagency strategic plan, EPA, USDA, and FDA would have better assurance that they were effectively collaborating toward achieving the national FLW reduction goal.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Natural Resources Defense Council reported that in the United States up to 40 percent of the food supply goes uneaten. FLW has significant economic, environmental, and social effects on various stakeholders, including businesses and consumers. In 2015, EPA and USDA announced a national goal to reduce FLW in the United States by half by 2030. In 2018, FDA joined EPA and USDA in these efforts.

GAO was asked to examine efforts by federal agencies to reduce FLW. This report (1) describes nonfederal stakeholder views on key challenges to reducing FLW in the United States, (2) describes actions EPA and USDA have taken to address key challenges to reducing FLW in the United States, and (3) examines federal planning efforts toward achieving the national FLW reduction goal. GAO reviewed federal reports on FLW; analyzed agency documents; interviewed officials from EPA, FDA, USDA, and states and representatives of nonfederal stakeholders, such as academic institutions, industry, international organizations, nonprofit organizations, and a tribal organization, based on their demonstrated expertise on FLW; and attended conferences on FLW.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making three recommendations in this report. GAO is recommending that EPA, FDA, and USDA incorporate leading collaboration practices as they implement their interagency strategic plan to reduce FLW.

Analysis: global plastics boom fueled 2018 CO2 emissions rise

Read the full story from Unearthed.

The world added more non-fossil power last year than ever before, but energy demand rose by even more.

The Indian Ocean’s Great Disappearing Garbage Patch

Read the full story in Hakai Magazine.

For better or worse, oceanographic and meteorological forces in the Indian Ocean seem to be preventing plastic from accumulating to form a garbage patch.

McDonald’s testing ‘Green Concept’ stores in Canada

Read the full story in Restaurant Dive.

McDonad’s Canada is opening two “Green Concept Restaurants” in London, Ontario, and Vancouver, British Columbia, according to a company release.

The locations will serve as incubators for new packaging options and recycling initiatives, and is part of the company’s push to shrink its environmental footprint and source 100% of fiber-based packaging from recycled or certified sustainable materials by 2020.

The locations will test recyclable lids made from wood fiber and “re-pulpable” cups for cold beverages, both firsts for Canadian QSRs, as well as wooden cutlery, wooden stir sticks and paper straws.

Shake it up: A Q&A with Sarah Pool, co-founder of upcycled spent grain protein shake company

Read the full interview at GreenBiz.

Canvas began with a single central problem: Over 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from digestive health issues. It tackled the problem with an ingredient that promotes planetary health: upcycled spent grain from beer brewing.

The result is a line of fiber and protein shakes. Canvas shakes are 100 percent dairy and soy free, and they’re made from premium plant ingredients such as coconut, cashew and spices — plus tons of spent barley grain that otherwise would go to waste.

To learn more about the Canvas story, Bard MBA student Alexander Lykins spoke with company co-founder Sarah Pool. Pool is the former president and CEO of Pacific Superfood Snacks and a former global director of the Exploration Key Initiative of ZX Initiatives, the venture capital team of AB InBev.

Lykins, who himself is passionate about home brewing, is co-founder and CEO of SustainaBrew Consultancy, which provides customized solutions for the craft beverage industry to leverage value through sustainable innovation.

He and Pool talked about Canvas’s sustainability philosophy, her experience with nutrition as a student-athlete and how the company plans to scale its supply chain.

Reporter’s Toolbox: Database Helps Track PFAS Drinking Water Contamination

The most recent Reporter’s Toolbox column from the Society of Environmental Journalists provides background and story ideas for covering the issue of PFAS in drinking water.

Scientists unearth green treasure — albeit rusty — in the soil

Read the full story from Cornell University.

New research helps explain how iron in the soil may unlock naturally occurring phosphorus bound in organic matter, which can be used in fertilizer, so that one day farmers may be able to reduce the amount of artificial fertilizers applied to fields.