The pandemic showed the promise of cities with fewer cars

Read the full story at Scientific American.

Residents learned what was possible. Some politicians fought to keep it that way

Newsom announces $296M in green grants to underserved California communities

Read the full story at The Hill.

Underserved communities across California will be receiving $296 million in grants to transform their public spaces and eliminate litter from their streets, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced on Tuesday evening.

Illinois EPA invests over $65.6 million in wastewater and drinking water projects in second quarter of FY22

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) has announced the issuance of more than $65.6 million in water infrastructure loans to local governments and sanitary districts for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2022 (October – December). The Illinois EPA State Revolving Fund Program provides low-interest loans, which fund wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water projects. Three of the loan recipients qualified for a total of more than $3 million in principal forgiveness, providing additional benefits to those recipients. This is in addition to more than $5.3 million of funding recently announced for lead service line replacement projects issued by Illinois EPA in the second quarter.

“Communities throughout Illinois continue to face the challenges of aging wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. The Illinois EPA State Revolving Fund provides cost-saving loans to communities and water reclamation districts to meet the needs of their residents and customers.”

Director John J. Kim, Director, Illinois EPA

Illinois EPA’s State Revolving Fund includes two loan programs, the Water Pollution Control Loan Program (WPCLP) which funds both wastewater and stormwater projects, and the Public Water Supply Loan Program (PWSLP) for drinking water projects. The programs receive federal capitalization funding annually, which is combined with state matching funds, interest earnings, repayment money, and the sale of bonds, to form the source of financing for these infrastructure projects. The state matching funds for FY2020-2024 are being provided through Governor Pritzker’s bipartisan Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan thus increasing the funding capacity of both loan programs. Projects funded in FY22 receive an interest rate of just 1.11% for both wastewater and drinking water loans.

A complete list of FY22 second quarter loan recipients and more information about
Illinois EPA’s State Revolving Fund
are available on the Illinois EPA website.

U.N. adopts historic resolution aimed at ending plastic pollution

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

For the first time, the international community has agreed on a framework to curb the world’s growing plastic problem. A resolution adopted Wednesday by the United Nations lays out an ambitious plan for developing a legally binding treaty to “end plastic pollution.”

Low-cost long-duration energy storage at a natural gas pipeline

Read the full story in Power Magazine.

An energy storage project based on compressed natural gas energy storage (CNGES) technology is being studied at the Abbott Power Plant in Illinois. This article presents an overview of CNGES technology, assessment of the potential of implementing it at an existing pipeline, and preliminary results obtained from the Department of Energy–funded Abbott Power Plant study.

5 expectations for the circular economy in the year ahead

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Happy new year, dear Circularity Weekly readers! I hope this [article] finds you healthy, happy and well-rested.

To be honest, I personally find myself a bit slow moving in the first week of 2022, feeling more comfortable reflecting on the year past than assuredly facing the year ahead. As we emerge from the fog of an unpredictable year and step into some familiar murkiness, my instinct is to replay encouraging moments and analyze announcements and actions from 2021 — clutching onto a blanket of nostalgia and pressing snooze for five more minutes.

To help me greet the moment, I decided to ask some colleagues about what’s getting them out of bed at the dawn of another year. I reached out to a dozen professionals working across the breadth of the circular economy to share their expectations, hopes and areas of focus for circularity in the year ahead.

Here’s what they told me. (The following quotes have been edited for length and clarity.)

The 6 sustainable packaging trends we’ll be watching in 2022

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Last year was a reckoning for companies racing the clock to meet their 2025 sustainable packaging goals. In the U.S., states passed groundbreaking legislation to help repair the broken recycling system and to move companies faster on their commitments.

As David Allaway, a senior analyst at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), told GreenBiz, “It’s time to acknowledge that we have a waste problem. The recycling system is not delivering the environmental benefits it’s capable of, and in some cases is actually causing environmental harm — and all of these problems can be fixed with a shared responsibility approach.”

2021 also saw progress, even as the coronavirus continued disrupting supply chains and the recycling industry. The use of virgin plastic in packaging peaked after decades of growth among signatories to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s (EMF) Global Commitment. Reuse and refill approaches continue to grow, albeit slowly.

Will that momentum continue in 2022? Here are some trends to keep an eye on.

Cole Haan’s new shoes are made from dandelions

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Rubber from weeds dates back to World War II shortages—and now it’s back, in FlowerFoam.

What needs to change to build a true circular economy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Nearly half of all global emissions come from how we make and use things. To tackle climate goals, we need to take a fresh look at how we approach our goods and services.

New processes will benefit from the circular economy. This approach to redesigning, producing and using goods looks to eliminate waste, circulate materials and regenerate nature.

The race to free Washington’s last orca in captivity

Read the full story at SeattleMet.

A southern resident’s violent capture off Whidbey Island was the original sin of a now-defunct local industry. Decades later, a Lummi-led effort to bring her home is on the verge of an improbable breakthrough.