New study examines mortality costs of air pollution in US

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

A team of University of Illinois researchers estimated the mortality costs associated with air pollution in the U.S. by developing and applying a novel machine learning-based method to estimate the life-years lost and cost associated with air pollution exposure.

New rooftop ‘hydropanels’ will make drinkable water from thin air

Read the full story in Curbed.

Solar panels may soon get some neighbors on the roof. From Arizona-based startup Zero Mass Water comes something called a “hydropanel”, which generates drinking water from ambient air. Developed by material scientist Cody Friesen, the hydropanel is designed to produce four to 10 liters of drinking water every day depending on weather conditions and humidity levels.

At CES last week, Zero Mass Water introduced the Source Rexi Hydropanel, a smaller version of the original design introduced in 2017 that can be installed on residential roofs like a solar panel. In fact, the hydropanel isn’t so far off from its solar cousin—the Rexi is powered by the sun (and comes with a backup battery), which means it can operate off the grid. A standard Source array comprises two hydropanels, which produces enough water for four to six people.

7 Ways Businesses Can Become More Sustainable

Read the full story in E The Environmental Magazine.

Choosing more sustainable practices for your business is good for the environment as well as your brand image. If you’re like most people, you probably care about reducing your carbon footprint and protecting resources for future generations. You may just not be sure how much impact one person and one small company might have.

The CGS 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey of more than 1,000 people found that 75 percent of participants at least consider sustainability before making a purchase. Generation Z in particular is conscious of the impact of their buying decisions, with 68 percent of them choosing eco-friendly products. While you shouldn’t make a commitment to a cause unless you believe in it too, focusing on green practices will help attract like-minded buyers.

If you’re ready to make the leap into eco-consciousness, here are seven simple ways to start.

Meijer to expand reduced-price food effort in stores

Read the full story in the Detroit News.

Meijer plans to expand a sustainability effort aimed at reducing food waste at its stores, officials announced Tuesday.

The initiative allows customers to buy items such as meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery products nearing the “sell-by” date at up to 50% off on the Flashfood app, then pick them up, the company said in a statement.

How Hard Is It to Quit Coal? For Germany, 18 Years and $44 Billion

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Germany announced on Thursday that it would spend $44.5 billion to quit coal — but not for another 18 years, by 2038.

The move shows how expensive it is to stop burning the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, despite a broad consensus that keeping coal in the ground is vital to averting a climate crisis, and how politically complicated it is.

Neighborhood Sustainability Indicators Guidebook

Download the document.

The Office of Environmental Assistance (now part of the MPCA)  funded the Longfellow and Seward neighborhood associations in Minneapolis to work with the nonprofit Crossroads Resource Center to develop measures of linked social, environmental and economic issues in their neighborhoods.

A list of those measures, the thinking and data sources behind them, and the process that lead to their creation are explored in a style that mixes scholarly analysis with stories from residents and others. The guide features a well-annotated bibliography, appendices, an extensive list of background reading and a list of assistance providers for other neighborhoods who want to develop their own sustainability indicators.

The guide was originally developed for urban neighborhoods, but it is also useful for small towns, rural counties and suburbs – any locale where people are active at the grassroots level, defining a long-term future for their community.

Tyson Foods starts coalition to tackle sustainable protein

Read the full story in Food Dive.

Tyson Foods has created the Coalition for Global Protein, a group that will focus on efforts to advance the future of sustainable protein. The coalition will include leaders from the protein industry, academics, non-governmental organizations and financial institutions. The first meeting is taking place this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

The purpose of the coalition is aiming to get groups in the food and agriculture sector to identify and implement creative solutions to sustainably feed the world’s growing population and address issues like food waste and conservation. The conversation will be moderated by Lawrence Haddad, executive director of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.

“We’re introducing this Coalition because we know that we cannot achieve this alone,” Noel White, chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, said in a statement. “Collective commitment and immediate action are needed to deliver the greatest impact on the future of sustainable food production.”  

Alternative Drinking Water Systems: Use by Very Small Communities, Related Cost Savings, and Technical Assistance Provided by EPA and USDA

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What GAO Found

GAO found limited information on the use of alternative drinking water systems serving communities of 500 or fewer people. Alternative drinking water systems are substitute systems (e.g., wells and well systems) or innovative systems featuring advanced methods identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or others. Through review of EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS), a data system that contains limited information on treatment processes used by public water systems; a review of relevant studies, reports, and webpages; and interviews, GAO identified examples of alternative drinking water systems used in communities of 500 or fewer people. These included

  • biosand filtration—a sand filtration process used to remove bacteria,
  • low-pressure microfiltration or ultrafiltration membrane— a physical filtration process used to remove suspended particles and microorganisms,
  • point-of-entry treatment—a device installed at the water entry point to treat all water as soon as it enters each home or building in a water system,
  • point-of-use treatment— a device installed at a single water tap, such as a kitchen faucet, to treat water primarily used for drinking and cooking in each home or building (see figure), and
  • ultraviolet disinfection—ultraviolet light emitting lamps used to inactivate microorganisms.

GAO also found there is an unknown range of cost savings to communities of 500 or fewer people using alternative drinking water systems. Based on a review of EPA cost models for various alternative system types and according to interviews with EPA, USDA and other officials, the costs and cost savings are case-specific and may vary widely depending on a number of factors. For example, costs and cost savings can vary based on the distance of a community from a supplier for the transportation of goods or services or options of conventional systems that are available, such as hookup to a public water system.

Regarding technical assistance programs, EPA and USDA each administer two programs that provide drinking water technical assistance for systems serving 10,000 or fewer people. These agencies awarded a total of $62.9 million to $96 million annually in fiscal years 2016 through 2018 to support technical assistance activities under these programs. Technical assistance activities funded under the four programs included training on a wide range of topics from Safe Drinking Water Act rules, such as monitoring and sampling rules, to drinking water risk communication. The programs also provided on-site technical assistance to small communities with their drinking water systems, including assistance with operation and maintenance, such as leak detection and repair, and management and finance, such as development of policies and water rate structures.

Why GAO Did This Study

According to EPA, small communities face financial and other challenges that limit their ability to achieve and maintain system sustainability. New or nonconventional approaches have the potential to provide small communities with better or more cost-effective access to drinking water. According to estimates in SDWIS, nearly 4.6 million people depend on community water systems that serve 500 or fewer people and more than half of the nation’s community water systems serve this population range. For the purposes of this report, these systems are referred to as “very small.”

Congress included a provision in statute for GAO to report on the use of innovative and alternative drinking water systems serving very small communities and on drinking water technical assistance programs operated by EPA and USDA. This report describes (1) what is known about the use of alternative drinking water systems serving 500 or fewer people; (2) what is known about the range of any cost savings to such communities using alternative drinking water systems; and (3) drinking water technical assistance programs administered by EPA and USDA. Among other things, GAO conducted a literature search, reviewed the SDWIS database, and reviewed reports and funding data for EPA and USDA drinking water technical assistance programs. GAO interviewed EPA and USDA officials, representatives from two national research centers for small drinking water systems, and others.

Nestlé to invest up to $2B in sustainable packaging

Read the full story in Supply Chain Dive.

Nestlé plans to spend as much as 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion) to shift its packaging from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics and increase its development of more sustainable solutions.

The food giant said it will buy up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and devote more than 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.6 billion) to pay a premium for these materials between now and 2025.

The company also will launch a sustainable packaging venture fund​ with 250 million Swiss francs​ ($260 million) to invest in start-up companies focusing on these areas.

Self-stick adhesive made with black pepper derivative adjusts to many tastes

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Self-stick or pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) have myriad applications in everyday products including duct tape and sticky notes, but most are derived from petrochemicals. Now, a team of researchers from the POLYMAT Institute at the University of the Basque Country has designed a new PSA made of 71% renewable biological products. The adhesive can be tuned to different strengths using ultraviolet light (ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 2019, DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b05067).