EPA Issues Final SNUR for LCPFAC and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemical Substances

Read the full story at JD Supra.

On July 27, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated a final significant use rule (SNUR) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances. 85 Fed. Reg. 45109. EPA first proposed a SNUR for LCPFAC and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances on January 21, 2015. 80 Fed. Reg. 2885.

On March 3, 2020, EPA issued a proposed supplemental SNUR for LCPFAC chemical substances that would make inapplicable the exemption for persons who import a subset of LCPFAC chemical substances as part of surface coatings on articles. 85 Fed. Reg. 12479.

The final SNUR requires persons to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing the manufacture (including import) or processing of these chemical substances for the significant new uses described in the notice. The required significant new use notification initiates EPA’s evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the significant new use. Manufacturing (including import) or processing for the significant new use are prohibited from commencing until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination. EPA notes that as with any SNUR, the final rule excludes ongoing uses as ongoing uses cannot be subject to a SNUR.

The final rule is effective on September 25, 2020.

More Than 200 Environmental Activists and Land Defenders Murdered in 2019

Read the full story at e260 Digest.

At least 212 environmental campaigners and land defenders, 40 percent of them from indigenous communities, were killed last year as they sought to protect their territories from incursions by mining interests, agribusiness, timber companies, and oil and gas corporations, according to the international watchdog, Global Witness. That’s the highest number of such killings on record for a single year.

It’s time for America to reassert climate leadership. It starts with voting

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Individual efforts are important, but we need collective action and systemic change. And we can only get that at the ballot

Sustainability Reporting by the Largest U.S. Companies Hits New Highs

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

Amid growing pressure from investors, America’s largest corporations are embracing sustainability reporting.

Nine in ten companies on the S&P 500 index, one bellwether of U.S. stock market performance, published sustainability, corporate responsibility or citizenship reports in 2019. That’s up from only 20 percent in 2011 and 86 percent in 2019, according to Governance & Accountability (G&A) Institute findings released this week. And companies are deploying significant resources to detail their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance against a wide range of voluntary standards and frameworks utilized by investors, raters and rankers. Foremost among these are CDP (65 percent of reporters) GRI (51 percent), the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (36 percent) and SASB (14 percent), G&A found.

City of Duluth makes strides in MN Greenstep Program

Read the full story at WDIO.

The City of Duluth has reached an admirable milestone in its efforts to protect the natural environment and reduce energy consumption.

Just this week, Duluth completed step four of five of the Minnesota Greenstep Cities Program.

‘Ecology is economy’: These resorts say sustainability yields cost-savings

Read the full story at CNBC.

At Potato Head Bali, menus are made of old tires and flip flops, while bottle caps are turned into tissue dispensers.

Indonesia, the world’s second biggest polluter of plastic waste in the ocean, has now pledged to reduce ocean plastics by 70% by 2025.

Several beach resorts said their sustainable initiatives have improved their cost savings, while also helping to educate both communities and customers about their carbon footprint.

Ready, Set, Grow: How the green building industry can re-ignite Canada’s economy

Download the document.

Following an unprecedented global health crisis resulting in nearly half of all Canadian
households losing work, Canada is preparing for an economic recovery. Similar to the
2008 recession, the country will turn to its economic pillars, including construction and
infrastructure projects, to help re-ignite the economy and create urgently needed jobs.
While we find ourselves in extraordinary circumstances, this remains the critical decade
for climate action. The decisions the government makes now could set a new course
that can benefit Canadians for the next 10, 20, 50 or even 100 years. The economic
recovery this health crisis has precipitated could be the tipping point we need to
transition Canada toward a sustainable and low-carbon economy. There is no reason
why economic recovery and climate action can’t go hand in hand. Science tells us that
without targeted action on climate change today, we will subjugate future generations to
significant environmental, economic and social disruptions.

As Canada transitions to a low-carbon future, construction will be at the forefront of
change, as it represents over 7 per cent of Canada’s GDP, and almost 30 per cent of
Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when building operations, construction and
materials are included.

CaGBC recognizes that the federal government must balance the needs of Canadian
businesses with supporting a recovery that successfully advances the low-carbon
economy. Investing in low-carbon construction and infrastructure can accomplish both
while enabling the Government of Canada to meet its climate goals of reducing
emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Major challenges and opportunities in silicon solar module recycling

Tao, M, Fthenakis, V, Ebin, B, et al. (2020). “Major challenges and opportunities in silicon solar module recycling.” Progress in Photovoltatics: Research and Applications 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1002/pip.3316

Abstract: This article examines some of the basic questions about silicon module recycling: (1) What can be recovered from silicon modules? (2) What recycling technologies are needed? (3) What are the potential revenues for different recycling scenarios? And (4) what are the major challenges for different recycling scenarios? Three recycling scenarios are considered: module reuse, component extraction, and material extraction. Recycling process sequences for different scenarios are outlined. The discussions conclude that module reuse generates the highest revenue with the fewest processing steps, while material extraction leads to the lowest revenue with the most processing steps. It is suggested that gentle and clean separation of silicon solar cells from the glass pane is a critical technology for silicon module recycling. It is also argued that two low‐concentration metals must be recovered from silicon modules: silver as a scarce material and lead as a toxic material. Their recovery requires chemical methods, while bulky materials including glass cullet, aluminum frame, and copper wiring can be recovered with physical methods. The silicon in the cells can be extracted with different qualities: ferro‐silicon, metallurgical‐grade silicon, or solar‐grade silicon, with a higher revenue and more complicated recycling process for purer silicon. Markets outside the solar industry for the recovered silicon should be explored. The biggest challenge for module reuse is to find a large and sustained market for hundreds of gigawatts peak of decommissioned modules a year, and the biggest challenge for component extraction is the many different module and cell structures on the market and cell efficiency variability. For all the three scenarios, the cost of collecting and processing waste modules is a common challenge.

Evaluation of Recycled Materials as Hydroponic Growing Media

Kennard N, Stirling R, Prashar A, Lopez-Capel E. (2020). “Evaluation of Recycled Materials as Hydroponic Growing Media.” Agronomy 10(8), 1092. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10081092

Abstract: Conventional soilless growing media, such as perlite, are mined from nonrenewable resources and can only be disposed of in landfills after limited use. There is a need to investigate novel, sustainable growing media adapted from waste or engineered to be reused over multiple cycles. This study investigated waste almond shells and a recycled plastic drainage plank as hydroponic growing media alternatives. Physiochemical properties were evaluated, and a germination and greenhouse growth trial was conducted to understand the effect these media have on production and nutritional quality of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Catalogna Verde). Drought testing was carried out to understand how the media affected the lettuce’s response to water stress. In comparison to perlite, yields under regular irrigation were reduced by 52% in almond shells and 72% in plastic planks, although lettuce grown in almond shells still obtained commercially relevant yields. Reduced yields in almond shells were likely caused by the shell’s high salinity. Lettuce growth in plastic planks was limited by impeded root growth and low water-holding capacity. In conclusion, with minor alterations, almond shells could be used as a sustainable growing media alternative to perlite in hydroponic lettuce production. More research is needed to manufacture the planks to be conducive to plant growth. View Full-Text

ISTC researchers develop improved method for microplastics analysis

Originally published on the ISTC Blog.

Since the emergence of mass-produced plastics in the 1940s, the global appetite for these materials has rapidly increased. Estimates of cumulative plastic waste generated are as much as 6.3 billion metric tons. Less than 10% of this material is recycled, while nearly 80% is sent to landfills or released into the natural environment. Because of this, microplastics are now ubiquitous in the environment. Their presence has been detected in surface waters, groundwater sources such as Karst waters, sediments, wildlife, and even consumer products.

The major drawback with current microplastic sample preparation and counting is that researchers use different methods. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was the first to publish a standard method to measure these materials. However, it only addressed large plastic debris in surface water and beach samples. Furthermore, it can only isolate and account for materials with a density less than 1.2 g/cm3. Many microplastics, including polyvinyl chloride, polyesters, and fluoropolymers, have a density greater than 1.3 g/cm3 and are unaccounted for in preparation by NOAA’s method.

When the researchers analysed samples from the Lake Muskegon and Missouri surface waters, they discovered that they would have missed the most abundant microplastics, those less than 300 µm, if they had processed them using the standard NOAA method. Their new method achieves a lower size detection limit and greater microplastic density limit.

The researchers also designed an innovative reporting method that uses detailed size measurements of the microplastic in the sample. This new approach for data reporting allows researchers to estimate the mass of microplastics present. This measurement is important because although particle sizes can change in a sample, the overall mass remains the same.

Following development, the researchers demonstrated the method with surface waters collected from three locations and fish larvae samples archived by the Illinois Natural History Survey.

The work is detailed in ISTC’s new research report, Development and Demonstration of a Superior Method for Microplastics Analysis: Improved Size Detection Limits, Greater Density Limits, and More Informative Reporting.