Day: June 23, 2020

Call for papers: Sustainability: The Journal of Record Special Issue on Pandemics, Socially Equitable Economic Advancement, and Resilient and Sustainable Systems

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: Aug. 18, 2020
  • Paper Submission Deadline: Oct. 14, 2020

Sustainability: The Journal of Record invites you to contribute to a special issue focused on pandemics, socially equitable economic advancement, and resilient and sustainable systems.

Social Equity
Through the first five months of 2020, the novel coronavirus has claimed more than 100,000 American lives and close to 400,000 lives globally, according to the World Health Organization. The data shows deep inequities by race, most dramatically for Black Americans.1 In the U.S., majority-black counties have experienced nearly six times the rate of deaths as white-majority counties.2 Other vulnerable populations include indigenous people — in the Navajo Nation, cases are reported at more than 5,500, a rate of infection at roughly five times that of the country as a whole.3

Air pollution has been dramatically reduced since governments implemented stay-at-home orders.4 In China, it’s been found that interventions to contain the viral outbreak led to “air quality improvements that brought health benefits which outnumbered the confirmed deaths due to COVID-19.”4 Other environmental and environmental health issues have been highlighted by the pandemic; for example, the importance of access to clean water to prevent the spread of disease.5 Notably, even as attention is singularly focused on the pandemic as well as on the reduction of pollution, the major sustainable development challenges—climate change, biodiversity loss, unsustainable food systems, water quality degradation—remain unresolved.

According to the IMF, the ‘Great Lockdown’ is the worst recession since the Great Depression. Impacts include job and income loss as well as disruption to domestic and global supply chains across many industries. Impacts to food supply and manufactured household goods have the side effect of raising prices and further exacerbate the economic pressures experienced by individuals and households. At the same time, under the assumption that the coronavirus is curtailed in 2020 and that global policy has been effective in staving off widespread bankruptcies and other major job-loss activities, global growth and partial recovery is projected in 2021.6

Restarting the world’s economies may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a green transition. If countries decide to rebuild in a sustainable way, the demand for green skills will increase in the coming years, with education being integral in the transition. Beyond skills training, new educational spaces and opportunities will also be needed for diverse communities of thought to come together and contribute to the framing of new, more sustainable economies centered on well-being.

Considering the above indicators, policymakers and stakeholders at all levels—in education, government, industry, and community groups—have an open opportunity to foster resilient and sustainable systems by way of socially equitable economic development. The crisis response also reminds us of the need for a participatory, whole-of-society response, as opposed to top-down state action only. A massive move towards sustainable development will only be possible if all of society is on board.

In this special issue, we will explore the impacts of the pandemic, how it has revealed injustices across economic advancement and other sustainability measures, and how it may inform risk-based and opportunity-based best practices that move communities toward sustainable prosperity.

Suggested topic areas include, among others:

  • COVID-19 and sustainable development
  • Pandemics and health equity issues
  • UN SDGs7 and post-pandemic communities
  • Socially equitable economic development
  • Building pandemic- and climate-resilient communities
  • Community-driven solutions for resilient and sustainable systems
  • Equitable and economically advanced communities
  • Equitable, resilient, and sustainable infrastructure
  • Relationships among economic and health equity and community resilience

The editors request abstracts to be submitted for review via e-mail by August 18, 2020, and manuscripts should be submitted online by October 14, 2020. All submissions will be subject to a rigorous peer review. We encourage submissions of original research articles, reviews, case studies, and thought pieces and perspectives.

Visit Sustainability: The Journal of Record online to learn more, read past issues, and view author submission guidelines.

Webinar: Riverdale Mills Virtual Demo

Thursday, June 25, 2020, noon-1 pm CDT
Register here.

Riverdale Mills of Northbridge, Massachusetts, a manufacturer of welded wire mesh, received a TURI industry grant to reduce the use of hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and ammonium hydroxide in their coating process.

Learn how Process Engineer Shuai Duo reduced the use of these three toxic chemicals by engineering a low-cost solution.

COVID-19 is laying waste to many US recycling programs

Read the full story in The Conversation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Many items designated as reusablecommunal or secondhand have been temporarily barred to minimize person-to-person exposure. This is producing higher volumes of waste.

Grocers, whether by state decree or on their own, have brought back single-use plastic bags. Even IKEA has suspended use of its signature yellow reusable in-store bags. Plastic industry lobbyists have also pushed to eliminate plastic bag bans altogether, claiming that reusable bags pose a public health risk.

As researchers interested in industrial ecology and new schemes for polymer recycling, we are concerned about challenges facing the recycling sector and growing distrust of communal and secondhand goods. The trends we see in the making and consuming of single-use goods, particularly plastic, could have lasting negative effects on the circular economy.

Murphy backs plan to protect N.J. low-income communities from more pollution

Read the full story at

As the nation celebrates Juneteenth, the day commemorating when slavery finally ended in America, Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday announced he’s throwing his support behind a long-stalled proposal to strengthen environmental protections for low-income communities with large minority populations in New Jersey.

The bill would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to consider how projects seeking permits would would affect the environment and public health of these communities.

Standard climate models may underestimate GHGs from permafrost melt by14%

Read the full story at The Energy Mix.

Standard climate models may be underestimating greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost by missing one of the key pathways for carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere, according to new research published earlier this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Associated journal article: Bowen, et al (2020). “Arctic Amplification of Global Warming Strengthened by Sunlight Oxidation of Permafrost Carbon to CO2.” Geophysical Research Letters, online ahead of print.

Research Shows Virus Undetectable on Five Highly Circulated Library Materials After Three Days

In the first phase of a project to disseminate and develop science-based information about how materials can be handled to mitigate exposure to staff and visitors, scientists have found that the virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 is not detectable on five common library materials after three days.

The findings are part of the REopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Project designed to generate scientific information to support the handling of core museum, library, and archival materials as these institutions begin to resume operations and reopen to the public. The first phase of the research is focusing on commonly found and frequently handled materials, especially in U.S. public libraries.

Over the past few weeks, scientists at Battelle tested the virus on a variety of surfaces, in environments with standard temperature and relative humidity conditions typically found in air-conditioned office space. Materials tested in phase one included the cover of hardcover books (buckram cloth), the cover of softback books, plain paper pages inside a closed book, mylar protective book cover jackets, and plastic DVD cases. Battelle tests found the virus undetectable after one day on the covers of hardback and softback books as well as the DVD case. The virus was undetectable on the paper inside of a book and mylar book jackets after three days. “It’s below the limit of detection on our viability assay,” said Battelle Principal Research Scientist Will Richter.

Lab testing of physical items followed literature reviews conducted by Battelle to help define the scope of the project’s research and the information needs of libraries, archives, and museums. Last week, the REALM Project released “Systematic Literature Review of SARS-CoV-2: Spread, Environmental Attenuation, Prevention, and Decontamination,” prepared by Battelle. This is an in-depth review of published literature on virus transmission, attenuation, and decontamination methods that can inform discussion and decisions about operations in archives, libraries, and museums.

The coronavirus has given us a new kind of plastic waste. Where does it go?

Read the full story at the Tampa Bay Times.

Local officials say used masks and gloves should go in the garbage. Scientists worry personal protective gear tossed on the street could pollute the world’s oceans, which are already contaminated with harmful microplastics.

Unilever to request suppliers’ emissions data on invoices

Read the full story at Supply Chain Dive.

Unilever is building a system for suppliers to declare the carbon footprint of their goods and services to ensure they meet company standards, according to a press release

The supplier accountability effort is part of a new push to advance the Unilever’s supply chain sustainability, which includes the goal of reaching net-zero emissions from products by 2039 and ridding its supply chain of deforestation by 2023. In order to meet these goals, it will prioritize suppliers with science-based emissions reduction targets of their own, the company said. 

“Our collective responsibility in tackling the climate crisis is to drive an absolute reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, not simply focus on offsetting — and we have the scale and determination to make it happen,” Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer Marc Engel said in a statement. 

Microfibers found in digestive tracts of birds of prey

Read the full story at The Wild Hunt.

Dr. Julia Carlin along with three other researchers, Casey Craig, Samantha Little, and Melinda J. Donnelly, recently released a report about microplastics found in the digestive tract of birds of prey.

Associated journal article: Carlin, et al (2020). “Microplastic accumulation in the gastrointestinal tracts in birds of prey in central Florida, USA.” Environmental Pollution 264, 114633.

100% recycled ocean plastic: ZenWTR hits Whole Foods nationwide as Lance Collins aims to strike CPG gold again

Read the full story at Food Navigator USA.

ZenWTR – a high pH, distilled bottled water packaged in recycled ocean plastic – has rolled out nationwide at Whole Foods stores after picking up regional distribution at chains from Walmart to Safeway over the past couple of months.

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