Electric delivery vehicles: When, where, how they’re charged has big impact on greenhouse gas emissions

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

The transportation sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and a lot of attention has been devoted to electric passenger vehicles and their potential to help reduce those emissions.

But with the rise of online shopping and just-in-time shipping, electric delivery fleets have emerged as another opportunity to reduce the transportation sector’s environmental impact.

Though EVs represent a small fraction of delivery vehicles today, the number is growing. In 2019, Amazon announced plans to obtain 100,000 electric delivery vehicles. UPS has ordered 10,000 of them and FedEx plans to be fully electric by 2040.

Now, a study from University of Michigan researchers shows that when, where and how those fleet vehicles are charged can greatly impact their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Let crop residues rot in the field — it’s a climate win

Read the full story from the University of Copenhagen – Faculty of Science.

Plant material that lies to rot in soil isn’t just valuable as compost. In fact, agricultural crop residue plays a crucial role in sequestering carbon, which is vital for reducing global CO2 emissions.

From plastic waste to vanilla flavouring

Read the full story at Packaging Europe.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh have devised a novel way of tackling the issue of plastic pollution by using bacteria to transform plastic waste into vanilla flavouring.

Lidl commits to carbon neutrality by 2022

Read the full story at edie.

Lidl GB has announced plans to become a carbon-neutral business by 2022 alongside wider commitments to reduce operational emissions and encouraging key suppliers to set their own climate commitments.

Past, present, and future of green product innovation

Khan, S. J., Dhir, A., Parida, V., & Papa, A. (2021). Past, present, and future of green product innovation. Business Strategy and the Environment, 1– 26. https://doi.org/10.1002/bse.2858 (open access)

Abstract: Firms are under constant pressure from various governmental and nongovernmental agencies to switch from conventional environmentally polluting products to green product innovations (GPIs). However, the relevant research pertaining to GPI has been published in a diverse set of journals that vary in their scope and readership and, therefore, the scholarly contribution to the topic remains largely fragmented. This study has utilised a systematic literature review approach to examine the literary corpus on GPI to paint a holistic picture of its different aspects. The content and thematic analysis of 85 studies resulted in the extraction of seven key research themes: organisational capabilities, organisational learning, institutional pressures, barriers, structural changes, benefits of GPI, and methodological choices. This study’s findings further highlight the various gaps in the GPI literature and raise some research questions that warrant scholarly investigation in the future. Likewise, our study has important implications for practitioners who are likely to benefit from a holistic understanding of the different aspects of GPI. Similarly, policymakers can use this study’s findings to introduce policy interventions, especially in countries where GPI adoption is low.

Clean Water Act: EPA Needs to Better Assess and Disclose Quality of Compliance and Enforcement Data

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What GAO Found

Since 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has modified one of its three national initiatives emphasizing compliance with the Clean Water Act and has discontinued two others (see fig.). The goal of the modified initiative is to reduce significant noncompliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits by half by the end of fiscal year 2022. Such permits set limits on discharges of wastewater from point sources, such as a pipe from an industrial facility. This goal supports EPA’s strategic objective to increase compliance with environmental laws in its strategic plan for fiscal years 2018-2022. EPA discontinued its initiatives focused on animal waste pollution and raw sewage and stormwater runoff, returning these areas to the core enforcement program in 2018 and 2019, respectively. As a result, these areas no longer receive the heightened attention and focused resources of the national initiatives, but the agency still pursues enforcement actions when needed.

Changes in EPA's Clean Water Act National Initiatives
Changes in EPA’s Clean Water Act National Initiatives

EPA posts data that states report on their NPDES compliance and enforcement activities to its website, but the data are not reliable for identifying changes in the number of activities states conducted since 2015. EPA’s most recent assessment of states’ data showed that two of 17 states met expectations for the accuracy and completeness of the data recorded in the agency’s national database. EPA is working with states to improve their data, and it includes on its website disclosures by some states about problems and limitations with their data. However, the agency has not ensured that all states’ disclosures are consolidated, complete, and updated. Until it does so, potential users of the data may not fully understand the data or the data’s limitations.

EPA developed a measure to track progress toward its goal for reducing the rate of significant noncompliance by NPDES facilities with individual permits by the end of fiscal year 2022. While the measure tracks changes in the number of facilities in significant noncompliance, the results of the measure are unclear because data EPA needs to track compliance are incomplete and contain inaccuracies. According to EPA, about 70 percent of NDPES facilities have sufficiently complete data in the national database for EPA to track compliance. EPA is working with states to improve data quality, but it does not have a plan to assess the overall accuracy of the data. Until it does so, EPA cannot be certain what its measure is showing and if EPA is making progress toward its goal.

Why GAO Did This Study

EPA partners with states to oversee compliance with and enforcement of the Clean Water Act. In fiscal year 2020, there were roughly 335,000 facilities with active NPDES permits, which are used to regulate wastewater discharges under the act. In 2015, EPA began requiring states and facilities to electronically report data on their NPDES activities. EPA estimated that in 2018, nearly 11,000 facilities significantly exceeded their permit limits and illegally discharged pollutants into nearby waters, which may pose serious threats to human health and the environment.

GAO was asked to review EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act. This report examines (1) changes since 2015 in EPA’s national initiatives for ensuring compliance with the act, (2) changes in NPDES compliance and enforcement activities since 2015, and (3) the extent to which EPA is measuring progress toward compliance with the NPDES program. GAO reviewed and analyzed EPA documents and data on NPDES compliance and enforcement activities. GAO also interviewed officials from eight states, selected in part by EPA region, to learn about their NPDES compliance and enforcement activities and data reporting.

Genetic study in giant evergreens reveals clues to pest resistance

Read the full story from North Carolina State University.

Recent research into a group of giant evergreens is helping scientists better understand why some trees are able to survive in the face of insect pests, and could help foresters breed trees with the resistance necessary to survive in the face of new and emerging challenges to forest health.

Every spot of green space counts

Read the full story from the University of New South Wales.

An international study of parks and gardens finds even the humble roadside verge plays an important role in the environment and for our health.

A battle between a great city and a great lake

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The climate crisis haunts Chicago’s future.

Al Gore: “Net zero can’t be a ‘get out of jail free’ card”

Read the full story at Fast Company.

The former vice president’s investment firm has a new report on sustainability trends that shows a huge growth in sustainable investments—but also finds big risks that could hamper continued progress.