Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resources for Environmental Education Professionals and Students

This site includes a list of resources, including resources developed by NAAEE, designed to help educators and learners of all ages center equity in their work in the field of environmental education.

Keurig Dr Pepper Helps Guide CPGs Through Amazon Packaging Compliance

Read the full story at ProFood World.

Having braved its own journey into Amazon’s Ships in Own Container (SIOC) certification demands, KDP packaging engineers explain what’s required to ready products for e-commerce delivery.

The Bio-Based Economy: What’s Holding It Back?

Read the full story at Labiotech.eu.

As pollution and climate change become growing problems, breaking society’s addiction to fossil fuels is a daunting task. What are the main obstacles holding European biotechs back from building a more sustainable economy and how can we resolve them?

2021 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry

July 13 – 15, 2021
MGM Grand Hotel, Detroit, Michigan
More information

Our 14th biennial conference will offer a provocative and dynamic discussion of industry on the brink of transformation. With industry accounting for more than one-fourth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, its decarbonization is more important than ever, and energy efficiency is a critical path forward. Reducing industrial emissions will not only help address climate change but also create clean energy jobs, protect public health, and ensure market competitiveness.

Join us as we explore an exciting mix of topics on low-carbon industrial products, processes, and policies. These issues will include: smart energy management, manufacturing, electrification, supply chains, the U.S. auto industry, Big Data, emerging technologies, workforce development, onsite energy generation, grid of the future, low-carbon fuels, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage.

We welcome your participation and collaboration in shaping ACEEE’s Industrial Decarbonization Initiative. We want to work together to develop and implement a plan to advance industrial energy efficiency and to build a clean energy future.

  • Panel 1: Agile Manufacturing and Supply Chains
  • Panel 2: Electrification and Low Carbon Fuels
  • Panel 3: Energy, Materials, and Resource Efficiency
  • Panel 4: Policies and Programs for Innovation

Sustainability vs. Circular Economy from a Disposition Decision Perspective: A Proposal of a Methodology and an Applied Example in SMEs

Alarcón F, Cortés-Pellicer P, Pérez-Perales D, Sanchis R. (2020). “Sustainability vs. Circular Economy from a Disposition Decision Perspective: A Proposal of a Methodology and an Applied Example in SMEs.” Sustainability. 12(23), 10109. https://doi.org/10.3390/su122310109

Abstract: Disposition Decision (DD) consists of deciding how to treat a recovered product, and it is one of the most important decisions in reverse logistics. Any of the selected disposition alternatives will have a significant impact on the enterprise sustainability. However, the most sustainable alternative may not be an alternative to make circular economy (CE) possible. In these cases, if the company wishes to adopt a CE strategy, it will have to switch from the most sustainable alternative to a less sustainable one that CE allows. Then, how much should be sacrificed for each sustainability dimension to make CE possible? This paper proposes a methodology for quantitatively comparing the most sustainable disposition alternative and the most sustainable CE alternative. This comparison allows small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to know how exactly all dimensions increase or decrease when selecting the most sustainable CE disposition alternative and to, therefore, assess the interest of adopting a CE policy. The proposed methodology is applied to a used tire recovery company. The results of this example show that the CE alternative offers a better environmental result but presents worst economic and social results. This example can be used as a guide for future applications other SMEs.

How to turn plastic waste in your recycle bin into profit

Saved from the trash heap and ready for transformation. Nathan Shaiyen/Michigan Tech, CC BY

by Joshua M. Pearce (Michigan Technological University)

People will recycle if they can make money doing so. In places where cash is offered for cans and bottles, metal and glass recycling has been a great success. Sadly, the incentives have been weaker for recycling plastic. As of 2015, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled. The rest pollutes landfills or the environment.

But now, several technologies have matured that allow people to recycle waste plastic directly by 3D-printing it into valuable products, at a fraction of their normal cost. People are using their own recycled plastic to make decorations and gifts, home and garden products, accessories and shoes, toys and games, sporting goods and gadgets from millions of free designs. This approach is called distributed recycling and additive manufacturing, or DRAM for short.

As a professor of materials engineering at the forefront of this technology, I can explain – and offer some ideas for what you can do to take advantage of this trend.

How DRAM works

The DRAM method starts with plastic waste – everything from used packaging to broken products.

A chart showing the various routes plastic waste can take to become custom plastic recycled products.
From trash to treasure – the DRAM flowchart. Joshua M. Pearce, CC BY

The first step is to sort and wash the plastic with soap and water or even run it through the dishwasher. Next, the plastic needs to be ground into particles. For small amounts, a cross-cut paper/CD shredder works fine. For larger amounts, open-source plans for an industrial waste plastic granulator are available online.

Next you have a few choices. You can convert the particles into 3D printer filament using a recyclebot, a device that turns ground plastic into the spaghetti-like filaments used by most low-cost 3D printers.

A recyclebot made largely from 3D-printed parts.

Filament made with a 3D-printable recyclebot is incredibly cheap, costing less than a nickel per pound as compared to commercial filament, which costs about US$10 per pound or more. With the pandemic interrupting global supply chains, making products at home from waste is even more appealing.

The second approach is newer: You can skip the step of making filament and use fused particle fabrication to directly 3D-print granulated waste plastic into products. This approach is most amenable to large products on larger printers, like the commercial open source GigabotX printer, but can also be used on desktop printers.

Granulated plastic waste can also be directly printed with a syringe printer, although this is less popular because print volume is limited by the need to reloading the syringe.

My research group, along with dozens of labs and companies throughout the world, has developed a wide array of open source products that enable DRAM, including shredders, recyclebots and both fused filament and fused particle 3D printers.

These devices have been shown to work not only with the two most popular 3D printing plastics, ABS and PLA, but also a long list of plastics you likely use every day, including PET water bottles. It is now possible to convert any plastic waste with a recycling symbol on it into valuable products.

Furthermore, an “ecoprinting” initiative in Australia has demonstrated DRAM can work in isolated communities with no recycling and no power by using solar-powered systems. This makes DRAM applicable anywhere humans live, waste plastic is abundant and the Sun shines – which is just about everywhere.

Toward a circular economy

Research has shown this approach to recycling and manufacturing is not only better for the environment, but it is also highly profitable for individual users making their own products, as well as for small- and medium-sized businesses. Making your own products from open source designs simply saves you money.

A series of photos showing how plastic waste first becomes filament and then can be used on a desktop 3D printer to make a camera bubble tripod.
From waste to filament to a camera tripod. Joshua M. Pearce, CC BY

DRAM allows custom products to be made for less than the sales tax on conventional consumer products. Millions of free 3D-printable designs already exist – everything from learning aids for kids to household products to adaptive aids for arthritis sufferers. Prosumers are already 3D-printing these products, saving themselves collectively millions of dollars.

One study found MyMiniFactory users saved over $4 million in one month alone in 2017 just by making toys themselves, instead of purchasing them. Consumers can invest in a desktop 3D printer for around US$250 and earn a return on investment of over 100% by making their own products. The return on investment goes higher if they use recycled plastic. For example, using a recyclebot on waste computer plastic makes it possible to print 300 camera lens hoods for the same price as a single one on Amazon.

Individuals can also profit by 3D-printing for others. Thousands are offering their services in markets like Makexyz, Hubs, Ponoko or Print a Thing.

A skateboard is held up before a large 3D printer.
The Gigabot X 3D printer makes larger items. Samantha Snabes/re:3D, CC BY

Small companies or fab labs can purchase industrial printers like the GigabotX and make high returns printing large sporting goods equipment like snowshoes, skateboard decks and kayak paddles from local waste.

Scaling up

Large companies that make plastic products already recycle their own waste. Now, with DRAM, households can too. If many people start recycling their own plastic, it will help prevent the negative impact that plastic is having on the environment. In this way DRAM may provide a path to a circular economy, but it will not be able to solve the plastic problem until it scales up with more users. Luckily we are already on our way.

3D printer filament is now listed in Amazon Basics along with other “everyday items,” which indicates plastic-based 3D printers are becoming mainstream. Most families still do not have an in-home 3D printer, let alone a reyclebot or GigabotX.

For DRAM to become a viable path to the circular economy, larger tools could be housed at neighborhood-level enterprises such as small local businesses, makerspaces, fabrication labs or even schools. France is already studying the creation of small businesses that would pick up plastic waste at schools to make 3D filament.

I remember saving box tops to help fund my grade school. Future students may bring leftover plastic from home (after making their own products) to help fund their schools using DRAM.

Joshua M. Pearce, Wite Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, and Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Benefits of Renewable Energy Vary From Place to Place

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

A new study from North Carolina State University finds that the environmental benefits of renewable power generation vary significantly, depending on the nature of the conventional power generation that the renewable energy is offsetting. The researchers hope the work will help target future renewable energy investments in places where they can do the most good.

EV models expected to triple in 4 years as declining battery costs boost adoption

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

The number of electric vehicle (EV) models available to consumers is expected to more than triple in the next three years — from roughly 40 to 127 in the United States — as battery prices fall, charging infrastructure spreads and adoption rises, according to Dan Bowermaster, senior program manager for electric transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). 

It takes almost two decades for the U.S. auto fleet to turn over, “so this is not like an iPhone adoption,” Bowermaster said Dec. 7 at a virtual seminar hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and EPRI. There are now 187 counties in 33 states where EVs represent more than 1.9% of new vehicle sales, he said.

Key to speeding adoption is the declining cost of batteries. DOE officials at the event said their research and investment is targeting $80/kWh by 2030 for a vehicle battery pack, but experts say more rapid declines may be possible

The Heat Is On: A Trust for Public Land Special Report

Download the document.

Parks—especially those that are densely wooded and deep green—can counter urban temperatures exacerbated by heat-trapping buildings, pavement, and concrete. Given the increased importance of parks during this public health emergency, The Trust for Public Land analyzed park data from across the country to determine who does and doesn’t have access to this vital public resource.

We found:

  • Communities with nearby parks can be dramatically cooler than those in so-called “park deserts.” Our analysis of 14,000 cities and towns shows that nationwide, areas within a 10-minute walk of a park are as much as 6 degrees cooler than areas beyond that range.
  • And yet, not everyone has equal access to the kinds of parks that lower temperatures and allow for safe social distancing. Our data reveals that across the United States, parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are half the size of parks that serve majority white populations and nearly five times more crowded.
  • In addition parks serving majority low-income households are, on average, four times smaller
    and nearly four times more crowded than parks that serve majority high-income households.

How our data encodes systematic racism

Read the full story at MIT Technology Review.

Technologists must take responsibility for the toxic ideologies that our data sets and algorithms reflect.