Firefighters Battle an Unseen Hazard: Their Gear Could Be Toxic

Read the full story in the New York Times.

This week, in a first, firefighters are demanding independent testing for cancer-linked chemicals known as PFAS in their gear and that their union drop sponsorships from chemical and equipment makers.

PFAS, Science, and Policy [webinars]

Read the full story from the Collaborative on Health and the Environment.

Per and polyflourinated alkyl substances, known as PFAS for short, are a class of chemicals used around the globe in a wide array of products such as non-stick cooking pans, cosmetics, paper food packaging, clothing, and semi-conductor applications to name a few. PFAS are a clear risk to human and ecosystem health as they are extremely persistent and do not degrade into substances other than additional PFAS. This class of chemicals also has many characteristics of concern such as toxicity, bioaccumulation, mobility, and global transport. Increasing scientific evidence has linked exposure to PFAS to a number of serious health impacts such as lower birth weight and size, reduced hormone levels and delayed puberty, decreased immune response to vaccines, thyroid disease, liver damage and kidney and testicular cancer. Especially vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly are at increased risk.

The CHE-EDC Strategies Group is excited to bring you this three-part series of webinars featuring leading scientists who will explore such topics as the safety of fluoropolymers and connection to PFAS, the concept of essentiality as a means to phase out all but the most needed uses of PFAS and proposed actions on PFAS within the regulatory bodies of the EU as set out in EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.

As new science emerges and policy change is enacted, the CHE EDC Strategies partnership will continue this series of PFAS webinars.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste Calls for Submissions for Recycling Technologies

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (the Alliance), an international non-profit organisation, has launched a request for proposals (RFP) calling for projects related to Chemical Recycling Technologies and Business Models.

The Alliance’s goal is to minimise the volume of plastic waste disposed to landfill or incineration and to maximise the value recovered from recycled plastics in order to contribute to the cost of collection and investment in waste management infrastructure. One of a number of contributions to achieve this is through Advanced Recycling. This refers to new emerging technologies that enable capturing the value of post-use plastics – recycling used plastic back to high value products. It includes recent advancements in the available technology for sorting waste, and for recycling through mechanical or chemical transformation processes.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste will build on all these new technologies, starting with a focus on emerging technologies for chemical recycling. This includes technologies which convert used plastic products either back into new plastic, the original building blocks (feedstock) for new pristine quality plastic, or liquid fuels such as heating oils, diesel, waxes, and other valuable products.

This RFP supports the acceleration of technologies and business models that recover the economic value of plastic waste, ultimately serving as a solution to significantly increase recycling through chemical conversion technologies.

Proposals can be submitted by all entities and organisations—public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit. The application period runs from now till 30th April 2021.

For more information on the evaluation criteria and proposal submission, please visit:

About the Alliance to End Plastic Waste

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is an international non-profit organisation partnering with government, environmental and economic development NGOs and communities around the world to address the challenge to end plastic waste in the environment. Through programmes and partnerships, the Alliance focuses on solutions in four strategic areas: infrastructure, innovation, education and engagement, and clean up. As of January 2021, the Alliance has more than 50 member companies and supporters representing global companies and organisations across the plastic value chain. For more information,

2021 Great Backyard Bird Count is February 12-15

How many birds can you find? 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count February 12-15, 2021

Image of red-bellied woodpecker. Photo: Deborah Bifulco/Great Backyard Bird Count

Lots of people turned to birdwatching during the past year, seeking enjoyment and relaxation. Chickadees, cardinals, finches and other birds are doing their part to lift human spirits. The 24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a great opportunity for all budding birdwatchers and
bird-count veterans to use their skills. People from around the world count the birds they
see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, and then enter their
checklists online.

The GBBC takes place February 12 through 15. Visit the new website.

“The GBBC is a simple, welcoming project that both new and veteran birdwatchers enjoy,” says David Bonter, Co-Director of the Center for Engagement in Science and Nature at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Birds are everywhere and can be counted in backyards, neighborhoods, suburban parks, wild areas, and cities. Scientists need the eyes of the world to collect information about where the birds are.”

During the 2020 GBBC, birdwatchers set new records for the event, turning in nearly 250,000 lists
of birds seen, from more than 100 countries, identifying nearly 7,000 of the world’s estimated 10,000 bird species. Data gathered by the GBBC and other survey projects highlight changes in the numbers and distribution of wild birds over time.

Birds make us happy

“By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, community scientists contribute data that we use to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow,” said Chad Wilsey (@ChadBWilsey), Ph.D., chief scientist at National Audubon Society. “In return, studies tell us that pausing to observe birds, their sounds and movements, improve human health. Participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a win-win for birds and people.”

This year there is a new way to send in an observation—through the Cornell Lab’s free Merlin Bird ID app. If you use the app during the GBBC and save a bird you’ve identified, it is also counted for the GBBC. As in the past, using the eBird platform on your mobile app and computer are still great ways to enter your data. Visit the How to Participate page to learn more about
entering your bird sightings.

Just dive right in!

“Why not try something new?” says Steven Price, President of Birds Canada. “If you’re an experienced birder, set yourself a challenge to see how many new birders you can
get interested in counting on their own patch. If you are just beginning to learn about the birds in your yard, see if you can identify 3 new birds (or 5 new birds or 10 new birds!).
Check out the resources on The Roost for more suggestions.”

Stay safe

All participants are urged to watch birds safely in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. That means following the health and safety protocols for your area, not gathering in large groups, and wearing masks if you’re unable to remain at least six feet apart from others. To learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit The Great Backyard Bird Count is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, and Birds Canada and is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Biden’s push for electric vehicles could take funding away from infrastructure projects

Read the full story at NBC News.

President Joe Biden wants to replace the government’s fleet of almost 650,000 vehicles with all-electric models produced in the United States, simultaneously addressing both his climate change and manufacturing agenda.

Biden has put both at the top of his list during his first week in office, while the new members of his administration have also outlined other critical targets, such as beefing up spending on the nation’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure.

But some of the goals create potential conflicts that the Biden administration could find difficult to address. For one thing, the president’s broader push to see American motorists switch from gas to battery power threatens to put even further strains on the already shrinking federal Highway Trust Fund used to maintain roads and bridges.

Smarties makes switch to recyclable paper packaging

Read the full story at Confectionery News.

Nestlé’s Smarties is set to become the first global confectionery brand to switch to recyclable paper packaging, eliminating approximately 250 million plastic packs sold worldwide every year.

There is an Alarming Amount of Microplastics in Farm Soil—and Our Food Supply

Read the full story at Civil Eats.

More microplastics are contaminating agricultural lands than oceans, impacting plant development and ending up in produce and people.

Less Frost, and More Cost: Biden Revives Interagency Working Group to Publish Updated Social Costs of Carbon and Other Greenhouse Gases

Read the full post at JD Supra.

President Biden’s Day One Executive Order on climate action reconvenes an interagency working group to establish interim and final social costs of three GHGs: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

The social costs of these GHGs seek to quantify the negative externalities on an annual basis of a ton of these emissions.

The Biden administration will use the updated social cost figures to inform federal regulations and major agency actions and to justify aggressive climate action as the United States evolves toward a “100% clean energy” economy with net-zero GHG emissions.

Recycling operators sound off on packaging EPR

Read the full story at Resource Recycling.

Extended producer responsibility for a wide range of recyclables is gaining steam around the country. Haulers and MRF operators say it’s critical that these proposals are crafted well – both to preserve what already works and allow for much-needed changes.

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) last week brought together a diverse group including the nation’s largest hauler; MRF operators in the public, private and nonprofit sectors; and a rural hauling company. They discussed the implications of extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws targeting paper and packaging, a policy that shifts the financial costs of recycling onto product manufacturers.

Green roofs, solar panels and digital monitoring: How the world’s buildings are changing

Read the full story at CNBC.

As governments and businesses seek to increase economic productivity and reduce their carbon footprint, the built environment will need to change.

Here, CNBC takes a look at key features of three buildings shortlisted for the upcoming BREEAM Awards 2021.