Lightfoot slow to act on promises to use old industrial sites to build new, green economy

Read the full story in the Chicago Sun-Times.

But the mayor won praise for rejecting a permit to allow a car- and metal-shredding operation on the Southeast Side. ‘This is what environmental justice looks like,’ EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

Co-occurring droughts could threaten global food security

Read the full story from Washington State University.

Droughts occurring at the same time across different regions of the planet could place an unprecedented strain on the global agricultural system and threaten the water security of millions of people, according to a new study in Nature Climate Change

Tackling toxics: A lasting tribute to a pollution prevention champion

Read the full story from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

The National Pollution Prevention (P2) Roundtable celebrates the successes of innovators in the areas of pollution prevention and sustainability. After the untimely passing of Ecology’s P2 and Regulatory Assistance Section Manager Ken Zarker in late 2021, the Roundtable renamed one of its Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Awards in his honor. Most recently, the Ken Zarker Memorial P2 Champion Award went to Dr. Katy Wolf for her role in helping Washington state aerospace businesses adopt safer degreasing practices.

Gen Z, Millennials take on food waste

Waste360’s two-part series delves into how Gen Z and Millennials are organizing to combat food waste.

Part 1 looks at what’s happening at a college with an innovative culinary and food science program. And it explores what a couple of young entrepreneurs who’ve joined the food waste fight have observed among their peers.

Part 2 explores what Megan Haupt of Hungry Education is doing to wake kids up to issues around food and the food system, beginning at age 2.

‘Double hazards’ map points to a hidden geography of wildfire risk

Read the full story at The Hill.

Nearly 20 different regions across the Western U.S. face rising danger from wildfires, a new study finds, demonstrating the challenge the Biden administration faces as it starts a 10-year, multibillion-dollar investment in reducing the country’s fire risk.

The areas, where zones of particularly vulnerable vegetation meet those of especially fierce drought, spread across huge swaths of the country.

Bacardi to cut emissions from rum in half in 2023

Read the full story at ESG Today.

Global wine and spirits company Bacardi announced today that its BACARDI rum brand will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% from 2023.

The emissions reduction will be achieved with the launch by Bacardi of a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system next year at its Puerto Rican distillery, replacing heavy fuel oil with propane gas, a cleaner energy solution. The company stated that the reduction represents a 14% cut in the total emissions globally for family-owned Bacardi, a significant step towards the 50% reduction the company is aiming to achieve globally by 2025.

‘Microalgae could be cultivated on Mars’: Experts detail less obvious benefits of algae production

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

Aside from its obvious lack of dependency on limited natural resources, just how sustainable is micro- and macroalgae cultivation? Sophie’s BioNutrients and Genesea, amongst others, weigh in.

Lighted nets dramatically reduce bycatch of sharks, other wildlife while making fishing more efficient

Read the full story from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In a win-win for commercial fisheries and marine wildlife, researchers have found that using lighted nets greatly reduced accidental bycatch of sharks, rays, sea turtles, and unwanted finfish.

Scientists successfully turned used masks into lithium-ion density batteries

Read the full story at Interesting Engineering.

With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, humans have become reliant on personal protection equipment, or PPE, more and more with each wave of infection. While single-use face masks make up a large portion of PPE around the world, not much thought has been given to the proper disposal of these products.

While these products are crucial in our fight against COVID-19, they undoubtedly take a toll on the environment, ending up in landfills and oceans, giving off toxic gases. In only 2020, 52 billion face masks were made and 1.56 billion of them ended up in our oceans. 

Recycling used face masks into road material and sanitizing face masks with electric cookers are just some of the ways we’ve previously tried to deal with the worrying issue. Now, a team of scientists from the National University of Science and Technology “MISIS” along with colleagues from the U.S. and Mexico has come up with a novel method of turning used masks into low-cost, flexible, disposable, and efficient batteries. The study is published in the Journal of Energy Storage.

USDA announces inaugural Federal Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack selected 12 members to serve on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) inaugural Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture to provide input on policy development and to help identify barriers to urban agriculture as USDA works to promote urban farming and the economic opportunities it provides in cities across the country.

The new Secretary’s Advisory Committee is part of USDA’s efforts to support urban agriculture, creating a network for feedback. Urban agriculture plays an important role in producing fresh, healthy food in areas where grocery stores are scarce, and also provides jobs and beautifies neighborhoods.

“Urban agriculture has been growing in impact and importance, and we are taking bold actions to build a support structure,” said Vilsack. “I look forward to learning how we can better serve urban agricultural producers, which will complement our efforts focusing on equity, local food systems, access to safe and nutritional food and new ways to address climate change.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, was the architect of the Urban Agriculture Act of 2016. The Act laid the groundwork for historic investments to address the needs of urban farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill, including the Secretary’s Advisory Committee.

“With every new urban farm, rooftop garden, and indoor crop, urban agriculture is helping create jobs, increase green space, and feed friends and neighbors,” said Senator Stabenow. “Michigan has long been a leader in urban agriculture. I’m so glad Jerry and others will be able to lend their expertise and wealth of experience to help grow this important sector. This is a historic opportunity to have their voices heard and shape urban agriculture for the future.”

Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture

The Committee is made up of agricultural producers, and representatives from the areas of higher education or extension programs, non-profits, business and economic development, supply chains and financing.

Members include:

  • Jerry Ann Hebron, Mich., Urban Producer
  • Bobby Wilson, Ga., Urban Producer
  • Viraj Puri, N.Y., Innovative Producer
  • Kaben Smallwood, Okla., Innovative Producer
  • Sally Brown, Wash., Higher Education
  • John Erwin, Md., Higher Education
  • Carl Wallace, Ohio, Non-Profit Representative
  • John Lebeaux, Mass., Business and Economic Development Representative
  • Zachari Curtis, D.C., Supply Chain Experience
  • Allison Paap, Calif., Financing Entity Representative
  • Tara Chadwick, Fla., Related Experience
  • Angela Mason, Ill., Related Experience

USDA and the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production peer reviewed more than 300 nominees, and Vilsack made the final selections. Selections ensured geographic, racial and gender diversity and a broad range of agricultural experience. The new members will serve terms of one to three years.

The first meeting of this inaugural committee, which will be open to the public, will take place in late February. More details will be available in the Federal Register and at and the new Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture website at

USDA and Urban Agriculture

The advisory committee and county committees are part of a broad USDA investment in urban agriculture. Other efforts include:

  • Grants that target areas of food access, education, business and start-up costs for new farmers, and development of policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.
  • Cooperative agreements that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans.
  • Investing $260,000 for risk management training and crop insurance education for historically underserved and urban producers through partnerships between USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) and the University of Maryland, University of Connecticut, and Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems.
  • Providing technical and financial assistance through conservation programs offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
  • Organizing 11 Farm Service Agency (FSA) urban and suburban county committees. FSA will organize additional committees.

The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was established through the 2018 Farm Bill. It is led by NRCS and works in partnership with numerous USDA agencies that support urban agriculture. Its mission is to encourage and promote urban, indoor, and other emerging agricultural practices, including community composting and food waste reduction. More information is available at and the new Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture website at

Additional resources that may be of interest to urban agriculture entities include grants from USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well as FSA loans.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit