Air Pollution and Environmental Justice

Air Pollution and Environmental Justice, an infographic created by the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation, reports that about 100,000 U.S. citizens die every year from air pollution-related causes and nearly half of U.S. residents live in counties with poor air quality. The infographic shows what contributes to air pollution and how it creates a risk to human health. It also outlines the racial inequities of air pollution and ways to reduce pollutants.

Sustainable Investing Research and Analysis

Sustainable Investing Research and Analysis’ offers in-depth research and analysis for investors interested in sustainability. It also provides trending articles about stocks and bonds. The organization offers a directory of sustainable investing funds and information about other investment products.

BrewDog told to limit ‘F**k you CO2’ advertising after complaints

Read the full story in Beverage Daily.

The UK’s advertising watchdog has told maverick Scottish craft brewer BrewDog to rein in use of its ‘F**k you CO2’ tagline when advertising its new carbon negative status.

The Root of Microplastics in Plants

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Over the last decade, scientists have been scrambling to understand the impacts of microplastics. With the breakdown of plastic bottles, washing the world’s seven billion fleece jackets, or the microbeads in face cleansers, microplastics are piling up. How they affect living things like plants is still unclear.

In soil, plastics have the potential to cause problems at the chemical level. Like a magnetic attraction, contaminants can bind to plastics, resulting in toxic accumulation. Contaminants can also hitch a free ride on plastics and potentially make their way into plants. But first, researchers need to know if microplastics—or their even smaller offspring called nanoplastics—can get into plant cells in the first place.

Here’s some good news: they don’t, according to a recent study from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Washington State University (WSU). However, microplastics do accumulate on the tips of roots, which could bode well for future cleanup of contaminated environments, but not well for root crops, like carrots.

American Energy Independence and the Transportation Sector

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As part of our mission to facilitate substantive, responsible dialogue on a variety of energy policy issues relevant to policymakers and the American public, OurEnergyPolicy (OEP) held a webinar on U.S. energy independence in June 2020, the sixth installment in our Energy Leaders Webinar Series. The United States’ goal to reach self-sufficiency in our petroleum consumption and reduce our dependence on foreign supply is a decades-old ambition and one that is still relevant today.

This paper is a summary of the issues explored in the roundtable discussion. We have done our best to highlight points of consensus and to represent all sides of issues where our participants held differing views. We intend this summary to serve as a resource for policymakers and stakeholders working on transportation and energy independence.

Procuring for change: An exploration of the innovation potential of sustainable food procurement

Morley, A. (2021). “Procuring for change: An exploration of the innovation potential of sustainable food procurement.” Journal of Cleaner Production 279, 123410.

Abstract: Public procurement is increasingly recognised as a tool to promote more sustainable forms of food production. As the negative consequences of the food system on ecological and human health have become more apparent, public institutions have come under increasing pressure to purchase food in a way that promotes environmental, social and economic benefits. This is reflected by a growing number of initiatives that link the provision of healthy food with support for more environmentally benign food production. This paper explores the potential impact of public procurement on the business strategies of small food producers. In doing so, it seeks to widen the understanding of how demand can support more sustainable forms of food production and supply.

The study is based on a series of qualitative interviews with producers and caterers who have participated in the Food For Life programme based in the UK. The impact of the programme framework is explored with respondents and thematically analysed to distil a series of key impact types and contextual variables. The paper discusses the potential for steering business change within food businesses using public procurement strategies. The unique nature of food systems and the complex relationships with human and ecological health lead to a distinct set of challenges and opportunities for advocates of sustainable procurement.

Smithfield settles suits over North Carolina farms, after losing appeal

Read the full story at FERN.

Smithfield Foods announced Thursday that it had reached a settlement with plaintiffs who had sued the company over the stench, flies, buzzards, and truck traffic coming from its industrial swine farms in North Carolina. The announcement came immediately after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, rejected a call from the world’s largest pork producer for a retrial in a lower court case it had lost.

Juries in 2018 and 2019 had awarded hog farm neighbors almost $550 million. The U.S. District Court in Raleigh, North Carolina, knocked the awards down to about $98 million because of a state law capping punitive damages. 

IEEFA South Korea: Why leading ESG investors didn’t buy KEPCO’s green bond

Read the full story from IEEFA.

Korea Electric Power Corporation’s (KEPCO’s) recent green bond failed to attract leading sustainable investors, despite being 10 times oversubscribed, according to new research by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

The South Korean state-owned utility’s June 2020 green bond raised US$500 million from international financial investors. But IEEFA’s analysis of bondholder data reveals that many of the well-regarded environmental, social and governance (ESG) investors shunned the offering.

As more countries pledge zero emissions, coal finance evaporates

Read the full story from Reuters.

Financing for coal projects is drying up at ever increasing rates as more countries target zero carbon emissions amid an energy transition sweeping the world, participants at Asia’s biggest gathering of the coal industry said on Tuesday.

New solvent-based multi-layer plastic recycling process could cut down on millions of tons of plastic waste

Read the full story from the Wisconsin Energy Institute.

Multilayer plastic materials are ubiquitous in food and medical supply packaging, particularly since layering polymers can give those films specific properties, like heat resistance or oxygen and moisture control.

But despite their utility, those ever-present plastics are impossible to recycle using conventional methods.

Currently, about 100 million tons of multilayer thermoplastics—each composed of as many as 12 layers of varying polymers—are produced globally per year. Forty percent of that total is waste from the manufacturing process itself, and because there has been no way to separate the polymers, almost all of that plastic ends up in landfills or incinerators.

Now, University of Wisconsin–Madison engineers have pioneered a method for reclaiming the polymers in these materials using solvents, a technique they’ve dubbed Solvent-Targeted Recovery and Precipitation, or STRAP processing. Their proof-of-concept is detailed in the Nov. 20, 2020, issue of Science Advances.