With more solar panels entering the US waste stream, EPR policy and standards emerge

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

A Northeast Recycling Council webinar covered how manufacturing and standards must converge to handle this growing material stream.

Advocates say cleanup of coal ash at Northwest Indiana power plant leaves regional water supply at risk

Read the full story from WTTW.

As a century-old power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan shuts down, some residents and activists are warning the region’s water supply could be at risk.

Over the next few years, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, or NIPSCO, is retiring the 130-acre Michigan City Generating Station, which has been burning coal for electricity for nearly a century.

It’s also cleaning up decades of coal ash byproduct. But advocates say the coal ash NIPSCO plans to leave on the site puts groundwater and Lake Michigan in danger of contamination in Michigan City and beyond.

Could plastic beer can carriers be a gateway to the reuse economy?

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Efforts to reuse plastic beer can carriers are taking off. A Vermont system known as the Reusiverse has collected an estimated 75,000 four-pack carriers since launching last year. Co-founder Ben Kogan, CEO of Reusable Solutions, estimates that number will hit 100,000 by the end of the year.

In California, another 16,000 carriers have been collected this year by Matthew Senesky, founder and CEO of reuse marketplace Iterant. Senesky’s platform seeks to sell the carriers, among other products, back to distributors or manufacturers.

A related Reusiverse initiative in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, led by EcoFriendlyBeer.com founder Rob Vandenabeele, has collected even larger volumes. Another program, Craft for Climate, is doing similar work in the Chicago area.

Keeping trees near farmland pays environmental dividends

Read the full story from the University of Alberta.

Both dead and alive, trees are an important ally for farmers in helping the environment, a new University of Alberta study shows.

Preserving and planting shelterbelts and hedgerows — and keeping the deadwood they contain — next to cropland helps store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

From 480 innovative submissions to 12 sustainable solutions: Where are the NextGen Cup Challenge winners now?

Read the full story from Closed Loop Partners.

In 2018, the NextGen Consortium launched its first initiative, the NextGen Cup Challenge––a global design competition seeking to identify and commercialize existing and future solutions for the single-use, hot and cold fiber cup system. Students, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, designers and businesses were invited to submit their ideas for the cup of the future. After a rigorous four-month review process, the Challenge narrowed nearly 500 submissions from over 50 countries down to 12 winners. 

These 12 winning solutions––broadly categorized into innovative cup liners, new materials and reusable cup service models––were chosen for their potential to help turn the 250 billion fiber to-go cups used annually from waste into valuable materials that can be reused and recovered. 

Today, many of these innovations continue to disrupt the status quo of the single-use cup, a seemingly convenient product that has come with a steep price over the years: cups ending up in landfills, creating greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. As companies look for ways to shift their business practices away from a wasteful take-make-waste system, there are tremendous opportunities for new solutions. The next wave of cup design is more innovative than ever, with new materials that can reduce environmental impact, and new systems that can keep valuable materials in play for longer.  

Over the last three years, we’ve seen the pandemic alter consumer preferences, more corporations commit to sustainability goals, and policy transform the landscape for circular packaging solutions, including reuse models. Amidst all these changes, NextGen Cup Challenge winners are paving a path forward in line with four key trends.

Report: USDA conservation programs need to focus more on climate change mitigation

Read the full story at Successful Farming.

Farmers received billions of dollars from two of the largest federal agricultural conservation programs between 2017 and 2020, but only a small proportion of the money funded practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

This program is blazing a trail for women in wildland firefighting

Read the full story at The 19th.

As wildfires worsen and the state faces a firefighter shortage, a California pilot program aims to recruit women to fight fires. But the field remains full of obstacles.

Widespread push for sustainability gains traction ahead of next farm bill

Read the full story at The Hill.

A push to restore rapidly degrading soil and bolster the nation’s food security is gaining traction — and it could affect how the U.S. produces food for the next half-decade and beyond. 

Advocates for the effort are ramping up pressure on lawmakers who are weighing whether to use next year’s farm bill, which will dictate agricultural policy through at least 2028, to boost incentives for farming practices that regenerate soil and reduce emissions or stick with the status quo. 

Zero waste advocates: California is making strides, but more action needed beyond EPR

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Longtime zero waste advocates Ruth Abbe, Rick Anthony and Neil Seldman weigh in on implications from the state’s busy legislative session and how they hope producer responsibility systems can evolve.

Mars unveils plastic jars with 15% recycled plastics

Read the full story at Food Dive.

Mars has debuted candy jars made with 15% recycled plastic — for M&M’s, Starburst and Skittles bulk products — in collaboration with packaging manufacturer Berry, which will launch in October.

The containers are available in 60-, 81- and 87-ounce varieties and will eliminate roughly 300 tons of virgin plastic each year, the companies said.

Mars is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to redesign its packaging to be more sustainable as it aims to get closer to its pledge of reaching 100% recyclable packaging by 2025.