Environmental efforts key for Biden, but industry expects limited recycling policy movement in 2021

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

While existing initiatives are likely to make headway, and Democratic majorities in Congress could affect certain legislation, trade groups don’t anticipate major changes due to a crowded agenda.

‘Environmental justice is racial justice’: Bush calls for environmental racism study to direct federal aid

Read the full story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A bill by U.S. Rep. Cori Bush aims to tackle environmental racism by creating a sweeping study of factors — from lead pollution to food deserts and police killings — that disproportionately affect public health in Black neighborhoods across the country.

The study would create a national database of a growing body of research on the parallels between racial and environmental inequities in segregated neighborhoods, including a 2019 Washington University report that found the city’s Black residents are exposed to far greater environmental risks than whites.

In addition to the neighborhood-level, nationwide study, the legislation — introduced Thursday by Bush, D-St. Louis, and written with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. — would help direct federal funding for environmental and public health initiatives to the areas that need it most.

Fashion Trends Are Often Recycled. Now More Clothing Can Be, Too.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Designers and tech start-ups are working to improve sustainability and interrupt the path to the landfill.

Rosemount oil refinery considers building its own large solar farm

Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Flint Hills Resources is contemplating the construction of a large on-site solar farm to generate electricity for its sprawling Pine Bend oil refinery in Rosemount.

Flint Hills said Tuesday it is reviewing bids from developers for a plant that would be built just west of the refinery on 200 to 300 acres of farmland owned by the company. Flint Hills, an arm of Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries, will decide on whether to proceed by midyear.

What the Biggest Corporate Energy Buyers Want From Federal Clean Energy Policy

Read the full story at Greentech Media.

Companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, Disney and Mcdonald’s lay out their policy priorities.

The long-and-winding road toward more circular tires

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Ventures focused on circular economy advances haven’t historically represented a sexy funding category, but December and early January brought the closing of two high-profile investment infusions: $55 million for AMP Robotics, which is using artificial intelligence to reinvent recycling infrastructure, and $25 million for TerraCycle’s Loop venture, which combines e-commerce with reusable containers.

Indeed, if you poke deeper into developments during the long and winding road that was 2020, it appears more investors are becoming willing to kick the tires (so to speak) when it comes to companies focused on turning someone else’s waste into a saleable product that keeps said waste from winding up in a landfill. 

And one category that has received renewed attention in the past three months: Companies that turn tires no longer road-ready into materials that can be reused in everything from flooring to modified asphalt to artificial turf and even brand-new tires. While it’s still technically difficult to reclaim tires and put that material back into rotation in the same form as the original because of performance and safety considerations, plenty of companies are innovating to upcycle old tires into other materials — and a well-established ecosystem of recycling partners from which they can buy.

Seeds of Opportunity: How Rural America Is Reaping Economic Development Benefits from the Growth of Renewables

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Despite a turbulent start to the 2020s, an important and positive message for rural America is emerging in the decade ahead: rural communities have a significant opportunity to strengthen and diversify their local economies by embracing and actively engaging in the ongoing renewable energy transition.

By 2030, renewable energy capacity in the United States will at least double, and potentially grow by a factor of seven or higher if new policies are enacted to capitalize on continuing cost declines in wind and solar. As a result, rural communities—which host 99 percent of onshore wind and a growing share of utility-scale solar projects—stand to receive a sizable boost to their local economies. In fact, annual revenues from wind and solar projects could exceed $60 billion dollars by 2030—on par with expected revenues from the top three US agricultural commodities: corn, soy, and beef production.

This report quantifies the scale of the economic development opportunity from the growth of onshore wind and utility-scale solar projects in rural areas, and demonstrates what that means for communities through case studies of existing projects from three different regions. The report offers recommendations for local, state, and federal leaders to unlock this opportunity. In total, our analysis suggests that the approximately 600 GW of new wind and solar projected to be built between 2020 and 2030 would generate $220 billion in lifetime value across rural America.

Taxing Energy Use for Sustainable Development: Opportunities for energy tax and subsidy reform in selected developing and emerging economies

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Economic recovery programmes provide opportunities for countries to focus on strategies for pursuing sustainable development, while taking the necessary steps to mobilise domestic resources. Sustainable development requires an alignment between development strategies and climate change objectives. Carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidy reform can be powerful tools to encourage low-carbon development choices and contribute to domestic resource mobilisation. Apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions, carbon pricing can reduce local air pollution, reduce informality, and facilitate aligning development co-operation and climate action.

Taxing Energy Use for Sustainable Development: Opportunities for energy tax and subsidy reform in selected developing and emerging economies (TEU-SD) presents results for 15 developing and emerging market economies. The results in TEU-SD include data and indicators to support carbon pricing reforms in the 15 TEU-SD countries, and compares their macro-economic and policy context to OECD countries. The results aim to inform policy makers so that they can translate high-level policy ambitions, such as those under the Paris agreement and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), into concrete action at the national level.

Countries include: Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Uganda in Africa; the Philippines and Sri Lanka in Asia; and Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica and Uruguay in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Biden wants to replace government fleet with electric vehicles

Read the full story at The Verge.

President Joe Biden will start the process of phasing out the federal government’s use of gas-powered vehicles and replacing them with ones that run on electricity. The announcement is the fulfillment of a promise Biden made on the campaign trail to swap government fleet vehicles with American-made EVs.

Making solar power more efficient

Read the full story from Case Western Reserve University.

Case Western Reserve University researchers using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve ‘photovoltaic’ power plants as part of federal energy program