Leading businesses call for adoption of Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging

Read the full story at Packaging Europe.

Today, for the first time, more than 100 businesses in the packaging value chain, together with more than 50 other organisations, have publicly announced their support for the adoption of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

The organisations say that that without EPR, packaging collection and recycling is unlikely to be meaningfully scaled and tens of millions of tonnes of packaging will continue to end up in the environment every year.

statement, published today by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, has been signed by leading brands and retailers (including Beiersdorf, Danone, Diageo, Ferrero, FrieslandCampina, H&M, Henkel, Inditex, L’Oréal, Mars, Mondi, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Pick n Pay, Reckitt, Schwarz Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Walmart), manufacturers and recyclers (including Borealis, Berry Global, DS Smith, Mondi, Tetra Pak, Indorama Ventures and Veolia), investors such as European Investment Bank and Closed Loop Partners, and NGOs including WWF, The Recycling Partnership, The Pew Charitable Trusts and As You Sow.

New bill would tax polluters, redirect funds to impacted communities

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

New legislation would charge fees to large corporations responsible for greenhouse gas emissions and use the money to fund environmental justice initiatives and help communities reliant on fossil fuels transition away from them.

The Save Our Future Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, would use those fees to invest $255 billion over 10 years into existing energy affordability, pollution reduction, business development, career training, and tribal assistance programs to further environmental justice in communities that have faced underinvestment. It would also provide checks to low- and middle-income families and $10 billion in block grants to states and tribes to help defray expenses related to climate change.

The bill would invest another roughly $120 billion over 10 years to help communities traditionally reliant on fossil fuels with economic development, infrastructure, environmental remediation and assistance to local and tribal governmentsIt also would provide five years of wage replacement, health, retirement and education benefits for fossil fuel workers in those communities who lose their jobs.

How carbon-intensive industries can scale up CO2 recycling

Read the full story in Horizons.

New technologies that capture and recycle carbon dioxide from industrial processes such as steel and cement making will be vital if the EU is to meet its goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and down to zero by 2050. However, while solutions are emerging, more work is needed in order to roll them out at scale, experts say.

Carbon dioxide sensors in two urban areas registered big drop in emissions during COVID-19 pandemic

Read the full story from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Carbon dioxide emissions in Los Angeles and the Washington DC/Baltimore regions fell roughly 33 percent in April of 2020 compared with previous years, as roads emptied and economic activity slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study. But while the emissions reductions are significant, the method that scientists used to measure them may have the greater long-term impact…

In addition, a second study indicated that U.S. cities often underestimate their emissions when using bottom-up methods alone. A third study showed that combining bottom-up with top-down methods increases accuracy.

Restoring land around abandoned oil and gas wells would free up millions of acres of forests, farmlands, and grasslands

A drilling pad for oil and gas in Robinson Township, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

by Matthew D. Moran (Hendrix College)


President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes to spend US$16 billion plugging old oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. But there’s no authoritative measure of how many of these sites exist across the nation.

In a recent study, my colleagues and I sought to account for every oil and gas well site in the lower 48 states that was eligible for restoration – meaning that the well no longer was producing oil or gas, and there were no other active wells using that site. We found more than 430,000 old well sites, with associated infrastructure such as access roads, storage areas and fluid tanks. They covered more than 2 million acres – an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

These sites are scattered across the country, concentrated mainly in forests, grassland and cropland. They could be put to good use. We estimated the value of crops that could be produced if these lands are restored at over $14 billion over the next 50 years.

We calculated that restoring these lands could remove millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere as vegetation regrows on them, providing an estimated $7 billion in benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It also would provide habitat for wildlife and could produce timber for harvesting. And because healthy ecosystems filter air and water, returning these lands to a natural state could reduce air pollution and improve drinking water quality.

Retired oil and gas executive Curtis Shuck explains why his nonprofit is working to plug thousands of orphaned wells across the U.S.

In recent years, energy production has become the largest consumer of new land in the U.S., outpacing urban and residential development. The oil and gas industry has a particularly large footprint, occupying millions of acres, with big impacts on the environment. Energy development reduces biodiversity, increases carbon emissions, disrupts natural ecological processes and decreases ecosystem services – the numerous benefits that natural landscapes perform for humanity.

While active wells are producing oil and gas, they generate obvious economic benefits, along with direct and indirect costs. Eventually, however, all wells go dry. After that, their economic value is gone and only the costs remain.

Most states and the federal government require energy developers to plug old wells and reclaim the land, and to post bonds to help ensure that they do so. Often, however, companies either go bankrupt and abandon sites or assert that idled wells are still producing and maintain their leases indefinitely. Furthermore, the bond amounts are almost never enough to cover the complete costs of plugging wells and restoring the land.

Map of Pennsylvania with abandoned oil and gas wells marked.
Pennsylvania officials have identified thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells in the state (marked in blue) with no identifiable responsible party to complete plugging them. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Abandoned wells can sit idle for many years. Many leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas, or other contaminants, damaging surrounding landscapes and threatening water supplies.

Restoring these sites starts with plugging the well to remove contamination hazards. Next, companies remove all infrastructure, such as well pads and roads. They replace topsoil, plant native plants – which may need extra care to become established over several years – and restore the site’s natural drainage patterns.

Thousands more active oil and gas wells will stop producing in the coming years. Energy companies installed over 150,000 wells on 500,000 acres of land during the initial oil and gas “fracking” boom from 2004 to 2015. These wells and older ones cover millions more acres of land that may someday become rural brownfields scattered across the American landscape.

How far would $16 billion go toward remediating inactive oil and gas sites? We estimated that the land around all currently nonproducing wells in the lower 48 states could be restored for about $7 billion, with additional costs for plugging wells.

We had only a few publicly available examples of actual restoration costs to develop our estimate, and costs likely vary widely across different types of ecosystems. But we carried out a detailed assessment and found that in every scenario we studied, the economic benefits from restored lands would be much greater than the costs.

In my view, this investment would produce returns that include crop production, better human health, cleaner air and water, and a more beautiful and ecologically sound landscape.

Matthew D. Moran, Professor of Biology, Hendrix College

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

Is carbon the ‘crop’ of the future?

Read the full story in High Plains Journal.

An increasing awareness and concern about the environment, changes in government policy, America’s re-entry into the Paris Agreement and a robust demand for carbon offsets all point toward an appetite for a different type of agricultural crop—carbon.

“There has been an increasing amount of discussion on how to create a way for farmers to earn credits for the climate-friendly practices they have implemented or will implement on their operations,” said Joe Outlaw, Ph.D., co-director of the Agriculture and Food Policy Center at the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and economist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Bryan-College Station. “One of these ways is through carbon farming that would allow for the capture or sequestration of soil organic carbon, making it possible for the sale of carbon credits to corporations so they may offset their greenhouse gas emissions.”

However, many questions on the efficacy of carbon farming and its worth to the farmer are as yet unanswered. Will there be incentives to attract a sufficient number of farmers for it to work? How much trouble will it be to implement and monitor these carbon capture methods? Will some farmers benefit more than others? Will farmers be credited for the actions they have already taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

By-product from beer industry can be used to improve soil health

Read the full story at European Scientist.

By-products from the beer industry can be used in agriculture to improve soil quality and increase crop yields, according to a study published by a team of Spanish researchers. The team is keen to explore what other types of waste can be used in a similar manner.

Changing Face of N.C.: Burlington hydroponic farm at the forefront of sustainable agriculture trend

Read the full story at Spectrum News 1.

Hydroponic farming has been around for hundreds of years, but it’s not necessarily what comes to mind when you think of North Carolina agriculture.

Like many things growing in the state, that could be changing because of urbanization and climate change.

Your Local Greens is a hydroponic farm in Burlington that grows five types of kosher and organic lettuce. It grows lettuce in a safe, clean and controlled atmosphere, in water without using soil, the right mix of nutrients and light.

It allows the farm to increase crop yield and nutrional value with less waste and using fewer natural resources.

Researchers study historic Mississippi flow and impacts of river regulation

Read the full story from the University of Arkansas.

In “Atchafalaya,” John McPhee’s essay in the 1989 book “The Control of Nature,” the author chronicles efforts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the Atchafalaya River from changing the course of the Mississippi River where they diverge, due to the Atchafalaya’s steeper gradient and more direct route to the gulf. McPhee’s classic essay proved inspirational to John Shaw, an assistant professor of geosciences who called it “a foundational text.”

Indeed, his latest work adds to the story.

In a recent paper published in the American Geophysical Union’s journal, Water Resources Research, Shaw and his fellow researchers, Kashauna G. Mason, Hongbo Ma and Gordon W. McClain III, examine the critical period before the decision was made in 1950 to create a river control system at the junction of the two rivers to get a clearer understanding of the rivers’ natural state—and how regulation might be fine-tuned moving forward to preserve Louisiana coastlands.

Virtual portal creates access to food security solutions

Read the full story in the Cornell Chronicle.

Meeting the nutritional needs of current and future generations requires innovations to ensure access to healthy and nutritious food while creating equitable value chains and supporting climate and environmental sustainability. 

To this end, Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability collaborated with a group of partner organizations to design the Innovative Food System Solution (IFSS) portal launched by NutritionConnect.org in May 2021.