Northwestern professor takes on ‘forever chemicals,’ and he just might win

Read the full story in the Chicago Sun-Times.

William Dichtel’s research with colleague Brittany Trang found that heating a combination of a widely used solvent and lye can destroy many types of common cancer-causing PFAS found in Teflon pans and many other products.

In ‘Cancer Alley,’ judge blocks huge petrochemical plant

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Louisiana activists battling to block an enormous plastics plant in a corridor so dense with industrial refineries it is known as Cancer Alley won a legal victory this week when a judge canceled the company’s air permits. In a sharply worded opinion released Wednesday, Judge Trudy White of Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge noted that the residents in the tiny town of Welcome, where the $9.4 billion petrochemical plant would have been built, are descendants of enslaved Africans.

EPA announces over $1 million in grant funding to University of Illinois for pollution prevention

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced over $1 million in pollution prevention, or P2, grants to the University of Illinois System. The University of Illinois Chicago Energy Resources Center will receive $350,000. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Smart Energy Design Assessment Center will receive $349,999 and the university’s Illinois Sustainable Technology Center will receive $349,197. These P2 grants are among 39 national grants made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic $100 million program investment. The grants will allow states and Tribes, or in this instance academic institutions, to provide businesses with technical assistance to help them implement P2 practices to prevent or reduce pollution before it is even created, while also reducing business and liability costs.

“Reducing pollution at the source, before it ever even enters the waste stream, is the best and most cost-effective way to protect the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “Thanks to these grants, and increased funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is working with organizations like the University of Illinois System to empower communities and businesses to save money and safeguard precious natural resources.”

The University of Illinois Chicago Energy Resources Center will use its grant to provide technical assistance to 20 industrial plants in some of Chicago’s underserved communities. UIC-ERC, in partnership with the city of Chicago, will help facilities find and achieve energy and cost savings, emissions reduction, and waste reduction.

“UIC is excited to engage with the City of Chicago and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide technical assistance to manufacturing plants in the City of Chicago, including those areas of the City facing environmental injustice. The technical assistance program will focus efforts on student workforce development, reducing plant energy consumption and source emissions, and increasing plant productivity,” said Patrick Brown, senior research engineer for Energy Resources Center at University of Illinois Chicago.

“The City of Chicago congratulates the UIC Energy Resources Center for this major award from the USEPA dedicated to offering technical guidance to the industrial sector to transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions. This critical support will result in more energy efficient operations as well as reduced pollution and better air quality for our communities. We are thrilled to serve as collaborators in this effort,” said Angela Tovar, chief sustainability officer for the City of Chicago.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Smart Energy Design Assessment Center will use its grant to provide technical assistance and training for 260 businesses, including 80 businesses located in or adjacent to underserved communities.

“Green business programs are an innovative model for driving voluntary education and engagement in P2 best practices,” said Dr. Brian Deal, executive director of the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center. “They make it easier for businesses to assess and reduce their environmental footprint, while also providing recognition and a competitive platform for their achievements. SEDAC is thrilled to help integrate P2 technical assistance with national green business best practices.”

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Illinois Sustainable Technology Center will use its grant to host two training events, create a pollution prevention guidebook, and offer technical assistance to 15 Illinois manufacturing and processing facilities.

“The support that the ISTC Technical Assistance Program will provide to manufacturing operations and related industries will go a long way in reducing energy costs, water consumption, air emissions, wastewater generation, and hazardous wastes in Illinois,” said Debra Jacobson, associate director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center. “At the same time, this project will benefit underserved neighborhoods by offering technical assistance to facilities that directly impact local environmental justice communities.”

Selected and awarded grantees will document and share P2 best practices they identify and develop through these grants so that others can replicate the practices and outcomes. Each selected grantee will address at least one of the National Emphasis Areas, which were established to focus resources and to create opportunities for information sharing among P2 grantees and businesses. Each selected grantee will also develop at least one case study during the grant period on P2 practices.

Read more about P2 and the P2 Grant Program.

Towns may grow millions more trees with $1.5B for urban forestry

Read the full story at Stateline.

States and cities across the country are beginning to embrace trees as critical infrastructure in urban areas. Neighborhoods with tree cover are significantly cooler than exposed areas known as “heat islands,” which can affect human health and utility bills. Urban forests absorb stormwater runoff, filter pollution from the air and sequester carbon.

As climate change threatens to bring increased heat waves, flooding and severe weather to many communities, some leaders are looking to trees as a potential solution. Some regions have been scrambling to restore urban forests that have been decimated by pests such as the emerald ash borer. And much like foresters in the Evergreen State, they may suddenly have more funding to help those efforts take root.

The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this month by President Joe Biden, includes $1.5 billion for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which supports efforts ranging from big cities to small communities. Agency leaders say the funding, which will be allotted through competitive grants, will be focused on reaching neighborhoods that lack green infrastructure and are bearing the brunt of climate change.

Resilient Land Use Cohort to explore climate adaptation strategies

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

The Urban Land Institute announced this week that five of its district councils around the U.S. will explore a variety of potential climate adaptation strategies through its Resilient Land Use Cohort. The cohort program provides a forum for technical assistance and information sharing on resilience best practices.

Participating district councils will bring together community representatives and ULI’s network of real estate and land use experts. The forthcoming group follows an initial round of the program in 2020.

Colorado will focus on wildfire recovery and enhancing community resilience and affordability; Los Angeles will look into the development of a resilience hub network; New Orleans will consider scaling green infrastructure solutions; New York will center on advancing resilient retrofit policies and incentives; and Philadelphia will explore land swaps for homes in flood zones.

Producers need to start getting ready for the UK’s EPR packaging regulations

Read the full story at Bakery and Snacks.

The implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations in the UK has been delayed until 2024, but packaging data specialist Ecoveritas is cautioning producers to not be complacent and to start making plans now.

Growing building sector carbon emissions threaten 2050 net-zero goal, report warns

Read the full story at Smart Cities Dive.

Direct emissions from residential and commercial buildings are on the rise, according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Program takes on post-consumer plastic recycling of petroleum-based products

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

A recycling program that focuses on post-consumer plastic packaging for engine oil and other petroleum-based products is being started by the National Lubricant Container Recycling Coalition (NLCRC).

The recycling pilot is a one-year project involving more than 40 locations in the Atlanta area, including retail stores, auto care centers, oil change locations, and commercial facilities. The NLCRC says the program aims to assess and measure economic and market drivers for post-consumer recovery and recycling.

The coalition also is looking to understand waste disposal behaviors and to come up with plans for the development of larger scale recycling programs. The NLCRC says it is an industry-first collaborative program, and partners include commercial and retail organizations, Safety-Kleen, and Nexus Circular.

As state PFAS in packaging laws loom, restaurants mull serviceware alternatives

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

As fast food chains face lawsuits related to PFAS in packaging, and numerous states prepare to enact related packaging bans, restaurant franchisors should consider proactively changing their foodware offerings, attorneys recommended during an Aug. 10 webinar from legal services firm Lathrop GPM.

Franchisors must closely monitor upcoming changes to state regulations, which could dictate how they source or purchase items like cups, takeout containers and other food serviceware — and what kinds of products eventually end up in disposal sites, they said.

Ten states have passed laws banning intentionally-added PFAS in packaging, with New York’s law taking effect at the end of the year. With more such laws expected to pass in the next few years, experts suggested finding PFAS-free packaging alternatives, even if businesses are complying with current state and local regulations related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Why doesn’t America build things?

Read the full story at Vice.

Environmental review laws have become a favorite scapegoat among those who lament our inability to build ambitious infrastructure, but the problem runs much deeper.