Delivering on America’s Pledge: Achieving Climate Progress in 2020

Download the document.

Delivering on America’s Pledge, launched at the 2020 Bloomberg Green Festival, assesses the 2030 impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recession on the ability of states, cities, businesses, and others to drive the ambitious emissions reductions.

Keynote and Author Adam Minter Encourages a Rethinking of “Stuff”

Read the full story at Waste360.

Yesterday’s keynote at WasteExpo Together Online looked at “Stuff: The Hidden Borderland of Waste and Recycling.”

The speaker was Adam Minter, author of “Junkyard Planet” and “Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale,” and journalist at Bloomberg. His talk offered a provocative look at why the growing tide of “single-use stuff”—from fashion to furniture—should concern waste and recycling professionals, perhaps even more than better-known problems like single-use plastics.

Climate Intelligence Is Business Intelligence

Read the full post from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Business Intelligence and Decision Support Services—a $30 billion plus combination of software and service industries—has enabled dramatic advances in corporate performance. It empowers insight and intelligence-driven strategies and institutional decision-making and offers some of the most powerful tools at our disposal to turn down the global climate change thermostat.

To many casual observers, it may appear as if the reality of climate change and the pace it is altering our daily lives is undetermined. While the politicization of climate change clouds public perspective, some leaders in the “real economy”—where the production, purchase, and flow of goods and services and all the associated greenhouse gas emissions actually happens—are aligning with policymakers and civil society on the urgency of quickly slowing humanity’s contribution to accelerating climate change.

Antimicrobials in the Time of Coronavirus: Consumer Products & Building Materials

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In an effort to protect our health from microbes, antimicrobial chemicals are added to
consumer products and building materials such as face masks, clothing, cutting boards,
door handles, and countertops. They may be marketed as antimicrobial, antiviral,
antibacterial, or anti-odor. However, for most of these uses, their effectiveness to reduce
illness has not been demonstrated. The widespread use of antimicrobials can cause harm
to humans and beneficial microorganisms, and contribute to antibiotic resistance. They can end up in places where they don’t belong — like water, food, and human breast milk.

VTT to study recycling of polystyrene back to raw-material

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

The bulk of collected EPS (expandable polystyrene) and other polystyrene waste still ends up incinerated.

Finnish research institute VVT, along with its partners, is embarking on a two-year multi-technological recycling for polystyrene (MoPo) project to learn how recycling of polystyrene could be substantially increased by reshaping its collection and handling.

Reducing exposure to high levels of perfluorinated compounds in drinking water improves reproductive outcomes: evidence from an intervention in Minnesota

Waterfield, G., Rogers, M., Grandjean, P. et al. (2020). “Reducing exposure to high levels of perfluorinated compounds in drinking water improves reproductive outcomes: evidence from an intervention in Minnesota.” Environmental Health 19, 42. [open access]


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have been detected in drinking water supplies around the world and are the subject of intense regulatory debate. While they have been associated with several illnesses, their effects on reproductive outcomes remains uncertain.


We analyzed birth outcomes in the east Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area from 2002 to 2011, where a portion of the population faced elevated exposure to PFASs due to long-term contamination of drinking water supplies from industrial waste disposal. Installation of a water filtration facility in the highly contaminated city of Oakdale, MN at the end of 2006 resulted in a sharp decrease in exposure to PFASs, creating a “natural experiment”. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compare the changes in birth outcomes before and after water filtration in Oakdale to the changes over the same period in neighboring communities where the treatment of municipal water remained constant.


Average birth weight and average gestational age were statistically significantly lower in the highly exposed population than in the control area prior to filtration of municipal water supply. The highly exposed population faced increased odds of low birth weight (adjusted odds ratio 1.36, 95% CI 1.25–1.48) and pre-term birth (adjusted odds ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.09–1.19) relative to the control before filtration, and these differences moderated after filtration. The general fertility rate was also significantly lower in the exposed population (incidence rate ratio 0.73, 95% CI 0.69–0.77) prior to filtration and appeared to be rebounding post-2006.


Our findings provide evidence of a causal relationship between filtration of drinking water containing high levels of exposure to PFASs and improved reproductive outcomes.

IPM for Sports and Recreational Fields

The Land + Lawn Forum of the IPM Institute of North America promotes the use of sustainable landscaping. They have a wealth of information for sports and recreational fields, including case studies.

Kellogg beats greenhouse gas reduction goal

Read the full story in the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Kellogg Company met its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target ahead of schedule in its manufacturing plants.

The Battle Creek-based food maker said Wednesday that it is limiting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its operations by using low carbon and renewable energy sources, purchasing renewable electricity and increasing energy efficiency. Since 2015, Kellogg has reduced scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions in its manufacturing plants by more than 28% and exceeded one year ahead of schedule its goal to reduce GHG emissions by 15% per pound of food produced.

Kellogg set its first sustainability commitments in 2008 and, in 2015, was one of the first companies to set Science-Based Targets to help limit global warming to below 1.5°C.

EPA Awards Nearly $1 Million to University of Illinois to Research How to Control and Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $999,377 in funding to the University of Illinois to research how to control and prevent harmful algal blooms (HABs). Specifically, the research will address subsurface drainage systems that can deliver large quantities of nutrients from agricultural fields to receiving watersheds, potentially leading to HABs.

“Harmful algal blooms are a serious and persistent problem across all 50 states that can have severe impacts on human health, the environment, and the economy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By expanding our knowledge of how to control and prevent the occurrence of these blooms, we can better protect our watersheds—especially our drinking water sources and recreational waters.”

“EPA proudly supports the efforts of the University of Illinois to develop innovative approaches to combat excess nutrient runoff,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “This work is vital in improving our ability to control harmful algal blooms and protect water resources for all residents.”  

The project, “Development of a Novel Bioreactor and Biochar-Sorption-Channel (B2) Treatment System to Capture and Recover Nutrients from Tile Drainage,” will produce and scale up an innovative treatment system to effectively capture excess nutrients from subsurface drainage in agricultural fields, recycle the nutrient-captured biochar as a slow-release fertilizer, and keep nutrients in the closed agricultural loop. The project is expected to offer an innovative, feasible, and cost-effective practice to mitigate the loading of excess nutrients into watersheds from agricultural fields, improve water quality, and thereby diminish the occurrence of HABs.

“This process has the potential to be a win-win for agriculture, not only by reducing the nutrient run-off that leads to harmful algal blooms but also by capturing those nutrients and routing them back into fields, leading to increased yields,” said Illinois Sustainable Technology Center director Kevin C OBrien. “It’s our goal to put cost-effective, feasible tools for sustainability in farmers’ hands.”

Seven grants totaling over $6 million were awarded to institutions to address the environmental challenges posed by HABs. Through the development of new technologies and the optimization of existing technologies and best management practices, these projects will assist in reducing excess nutrients that enter the Nation’s waterways and support EPA’s goal to reduce the occurrence of HABs across the United States.   

Preventing and mitigating excess nutrients in our waters, and the HABs that they can create is one of EPA’s highest water quality priorities. In 2020 alone, EPA has awarded Small Business Innovation Research funding to companies developing technologies to better detect HABs, released draft nutrient criteria for lakes and reservoirs, and announced an award of more than $2 million in funding to help states implement plans to that reduce excess nutrients and improve water quality in the Mississippi River/Atchafalaya River Basin. Today’s award marks the largest research grant to date to support a nation-wide effort to prevent and control HABs.


HABs are overgrowths of algae in water that have the potential to harm human health and aquatic ecosystems. There are several factors that can cause HABs to develop, including excess nitrogen and phosphorous in waterways.

Webinar: SARS CoV-2 in Wastewater Monitoring: Linking Research and Application to Meet Immediate Needs

Wed, Sep 30, 2020 1-2 pm CDT
Register here.

Widespread studies conducted national and globally indicate that genes specific to SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus that causes COVID-19) can be detected in wastewater. The ability to collectively sample both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals has lead dozens of states, cities, and universities to actively monitor wastewater to inform public health decisions. The clarity of the reflection of community prevalence of infection within the mirror of wastewater can be distorted by several factors, including variation in analytical detection methods, decay and dilution of viral genes during wastewater transport, and imprecision in relating the wastewater signal to other imperfect measures of community infection rates. This webinar will focus on the following collaborative efforts of EPA’s SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring research team to reduce uncertainties:

  • Method development within the lab.
  • Application in sewersheds with distinctive levels of industrial and stormwater impacts (in coordination with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District).
  • Development of a wastewater surveillance systems in Ohio (in support of the Ohio Department of Health).