San Francisco’s Race to Zero Waste Has One Last Major Hurdle

Read the full story at Medium.

We often hear about San Francisco’s success in waste management and recycling: how the city is a leader in this field, diverting 80% of its waste through reusing, recycling, and composting. This diversion rate is impressive and superior to that of every other major city, which raises the question: How is San Francisco diverting 80% of its waste?

Registration now open for 2017 Triple Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable in Minneapolis

email-savethedateRegistration is now open for the 2017 Triple Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable. The conference will be held in Minneapolis on May 2-4, 2017.

Sessions include:

  • Pollution Prevention 101 pre-conference training (half day)
  • Tour of Ecolab’s Schuman Campus in Eagan, MN (half day)
  • A full day of facilitated large and small group discussion centering on U.S. EPA’s National Emphasis areas.
  • Interactive workshops on engagement, and materials substitution
  • Hands-on training with a variety of online P2 tools.

For more information and to register, visit the conference web site.

Sustainable Innovation: What’s Good for the World Can Be Good for Business

Read the full story at Spend Matters.

It is the responsibility of science- and technology-based companies to work with customers and partners around the world to not only help solve their product challenges, but their environmental ones as well. When working environments are positively changed, it encourages ambition and innovation and results in increased certainty, reliability and new revenue streams from additional product lines.

Mardi Gras beads make a much bigger mess than you’d imagine

Read the full story in Grist.

Shiny, colorful bead necklaces, also known as “throws,” are now synonymous with Mardi Gras.

Even if you’ve never been to the Carnival celebrations, you probably know the typical scene that plays out on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street every year: Revelers line up along the parade route to collect beads tossed from floats. Many try to collect as many as possible, and some drunken revelers will even expose themselves in exchange for the plastic trinkets.

But the celebratory atmosphere couldn’t be more different from the grim factories in the Fujian province of China, where teenage girls work around the clock making and stringing together the green, purple, and gold beads.

I’ve spent several years researching the circulation of these plastic beads, and their life doesn’t begin and end that one week in New Orleans. Beneath the sheen of the beads is a story that’s far more complex — one that takes place in the Middle East, China, and the United States, and is symptomatic of a consumer culture built on waste, exploitation, and toxic chemicals.

NSF funding opportunity: Environmental Sustainability

Proposal window: October 1, 2017 – October 20, 2017
For more information: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505338

The Environmental Sustainability program is part of the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability cluster, which includes also 1) Environmental Engineering; and 2) Biological and Environmental Interactions of Nanoscale Materials.

The goal of the Environmental Sustainability program is to promote sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems. These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival. Research efforts supported by the program typically consider long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. The program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society’s need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions.

There are four principal general research areas that are supported:

  • Industrial Ecology: Topics of interest in Industrial Ecology include advancements in modeling such as life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis, input/output economic models, and novel metrics for measuring sustainable systems. Innovations in industrial ecology are encouraged.
  • Green Engineering: Research is encouraged to advance the sustainability of manufacturing processes, green buildings, and infrastructure. Many programs in the Engineering Directorate support research in environmentally benign manufacturing or chemical processes. The Environmental Sustainability program supports research that would affect more than one chemical or manufacturing process or that takes a systems or holistic approach to green engineering for infrastructure or green buildings. Improvements in distribution and collection systems that will advance smart growth strategies and ameliorate effects of growth are research areas that are supported by Environmental Sustainability. Innovations in management of storm water, recycling and reuse of drinking water, and other green engineering techniques to support sustainability may also be fruitful areas for research. NOTE: Water treatment proposals are to be submitted to the CBET Environmental Engineering program (1440), NOT the Environmental Sustainability program (7643).
  • Ecological Engineering: Topics should focus on the engineering aspects of restoring ecological function to natural systems. Engineering research in the enhancement of natural capital to foster sustainable development is encouraged.
  • Earth Systems Engineering: Earth systems engineering considers aspects of large scale engineering research that involve mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and other global scale concerns.

All proposed research should be driven by engineering principles, and be presented explicitly in an environmental sustainability context. Proposals should include involvement in engineering research of at least one graduate student, as well as undergraduates. Incorporation of aspects of social, behavioral, and economic sciences is welcomed. Innovative proposals outside the scope of the four core areas mentioned above may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review. For proposals that call for research to be done outside of the United States, an explanation must be presented of the potential benefit of the research for the United States.

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The typical award size for the program is around $100,000 per year. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.

Contact:
Bruce Hamilton
National Science Foundation
(703) 292-7066
bhamilto@nsf.gov

GM, Steelcase see a web of opportunity in the circular economy

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Slashing corporate waste and upping investment in reuse is a big market opening — and one that could unlock new supply chain value and job opportunities at companies that can get out ahead.

Minnesota: Discounts available to switch out solvent-based parts washers

Read the full story from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The MPCA has developed a pilot project in partnership with Safety-Kleen that will give a 25% discount to small businesses who switch from a solvent to an aqueous-based parts washer.