Why Environmental Managers, Investors Love Circular Economy Technologies

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Circular economy technologies and initiatives have seen growing interest from environmental managers and sustainability officers of late. A new report suggests these innovations, which reduce waste or convert waste to valuable new products, can also add investors to their list of fans.

Circular economy technologies received $668 million in funding from 2011 through the first quarter of 2016, Lux Research says. Of this total funding, material recycling captured a 69 percent share and accounted for 65 percent of the total 155 deals.

“Waste collection and sorting are experiencing disruptive changes due to the innovations based on software, data analytics, and robotics,” said Jerrold Wang, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report titled, Observing Trends from VC Investment Activities to Material Recycling Fields.

New method developed for producing some metals

Read the full story from MIT.

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony — and potentially a new way of smelting other metals, as well.

The discovery could lead to metal-production systems that are much less expensive and that virtually eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with most traditional metal smelting. Although antimony itself is not a widely used metal, the same principles may also be applied to producing much more abundant and economically important metals such as copper and nickel, the researchers say.

The surprising finding is reported this week in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry; postdoc Huayi Yin; and visiting scholar Brice Chung.

New Publication: Managing Climate Change Refugia to Protect Wildlife

Read the full story from the Northeast Climate Science Center.

NE CSC’s Research Ecologist Toni Lyn Morelli and colleagues have a new paper describing how scientists and natural resource managers are working together to understand how safe havens from climate change might be identified and conserved to protect species and cultural traditions.

Study: Biofuels increase, rather than decrease, heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

A new study from University of Michigan researchers challenges the widely held assumption that biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are inherently carbon neutral.

Contrary to popular belief, the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas emitted when biofuels are burned is not fully balanced by the CO2 uptake that occurs as the plants grow, according to a study by research professor John DeCicco and co-authors at the U-M Energy Institute.

New ISTC publication: 2014 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award Winner: Thomason Machine Works, Inc.

Download the document.

Thomason Machine Works, Inc. (TMW) located in Rockford, Illinois, is a second generation family-owned business that has been in operation since 1978. They specialize in replacement parts for a wide variety of header, roll thread, and general machining products. From prototype runs to mass production of parts, the company has the ability to meet the ever-changing demands in an industry with especially diverse customer needs. TMW has also found ways to conserve energy, reduce waste volume, and educate their employees, customers, and community on the importance of environmental responsibility.


The Impact of Sustainability Information on Consumer Decision Making

O’Rourke, D. and Ringer, A. (2016), “The Impact of Sustainability Information on Consumer Decision Making”. Journal of Industrial Ecology 20: 882–892. doi:10.1111/jiec.12310.

Abstract: This article presents an empirical analysis of the impact of sustainability information on consumer purchase intentions and how this influence varies by issue (health, environment, and social responsibility), product category, type of consumer, and type of information. We assess over 40,000 online purchase interactions on the website GoodGuide.com and find a significant impact of certain types of sustainability information on purchase intentions, varying across different types of consumers, issues, and product categories. Health ratings in particular showed the strongest effects. Direct users—those who intentionally sought out sustainability information—were most strongly influenced by sustainability information, with an average purchase intention rate increase of 1.15 percentage points for each point increase in overall product score, reported on a zero to ten scale. However, sustainability information had, on average, no impact on nondirect users, demonstrating that simply providing more or better information on sustainability issues will likely have limited impact on changing mainstream consumer behavior unless it is designed to connect into existing decision-making processes.