Packaging Recyclability & Design reports from RECOUP

RECOUP, a UK organization committed to securing sustainable, circular, and practical solutions for plastic resources, has released a series of reports related to recyclability and design of plastic packaging. The series includes:

Researchers track the invasive Asian tiger mosquito in Illinois

Read the full story from the Prairie Research Institute.

The exotic Asian tiger mosquito, known to transmit diseases to humans, is more widespread in southeastern Illinois than previously realized, according to Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) researchers who conducted a study on how invasive mosquito communities form and shift because of different land uses.

EPA confirms fluorinated containers leach PFAS

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Plastic containers made of fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are likely to leach per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into pesticides and other liquid products that are stored in them, results from the US Environmental Protection Agency suggest.

The data, released Sept. 8, show that the amount of PFAS that migrates into liquid products increases with storage time.

Almost 90% of marine species at risk under high emissions scenarios: ‘Mitigation needs to occur now’

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

Fresh research shows that high emissions scenarios place the vast majority of ocean life at ‘high’ or ‘critical’ risk, with implications for the economic wellbeing of costal economies and future food security.

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.

New tool measures thoroughness of peer review reports

Read the full story at Physics Today.

The level of detail of peer review reports is consistent across physical science journals regardless of the publications’ prominence, according to a first-of-its-kind large-scale analysis of reviewer reports in different scientific fields. Previous studies have evaluated the length of peer reviews and the demographics of the referees, but it has been difficult to examine the content of reviews because journals rarely disclose them.

For their June study in PeerJ, Flaminio Squazzoni, a sociologist at the University of Milan, Italy, and his colleagues got access to 1.3 million referee reports submitted between 2018 and 2020 to 740 scholarly journals issued by Dutch publishing giant Elsevier, including 161 physical science titles such as Physics Letters B and the Journal of Computational Physics.

Green Energy Jobs in the US: What Are They, and Where Are They?

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Does the growth of renewable energy benefit US workers, and which workers stand to benefit the most? Until now, evidence on green energy jobs has been limited due to measurement issues. We use data on nearly all jobs posted online in the US, as collected by Burning Glass Technology, and we create a new measure of green jobs, defined here as solar and wind jobs. We use job titles and task requirements to define green jobs.

We find that both solar and wind job postings have more than tripled since 2010, with solar jobs seeing especially strong growth that precedes the growth of new installed solar capacity. In 2019, we identify approximately 52,500 solar job openings and 13,500 wind job openings. Solar jobs are mostly (33%) in sales occupations, and in the utilities industry (16%). Wind jobs are most represented among installation and maintenance occupations (37%), and in the manufacturing industry (29%). Green jobs are created in occupations that are about 21% higher paying than average. The pay premium is even higher for jobs with a low educational requirement.

Finally, green jobs tend to locate in counties with high shares of employment in fossil fuel extraction. Overall, our results suggest that the growth of renewable energy leads to the creation of relatively high paying jobs, which are more often than not located in areas that stand to lose from a decline in fossil fuel extraction jobs.

Subsurface Characterization, Monitoring, and Modeling of a Geothermal Exchange Borefield for the Campus Instructional Facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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This report presents the outcome of research in geothermal energy, specifically geothermal exchange, conducted by geologists, hydrogeologists, and engineers at the Illinois State Geological Survey and Illinois Water Resources Center in partnership with engineering faculty and students in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (U of I), who are members of the newly-formed Illinois Geothermal Coalition. This effort brought together a multi-disciplinary and multiorganizational team of scientists and engineers who are focused on advancing the application of geothermal energy technologies for district heating and cooling systems that allow energy end users to meet net carbon neutrality, renewable energy, and grid resilience goals.

The research specifically supported the design and operation of a shallow geothermal exchange system for the U of I and its private partners at the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) that just recently came online in April 2021. As academic campuses aggressively pursue renewable and sustainable energy sources to reduce their carbon footprints and enhance operational resiliency, geothermal energy has increasingly garnered more interest and is considered an uninterruptible source of heating and cooling, offering greater dependability in supplying a constant energy load with the least impact on the energy grid. Geothermal energy is very attractive because of its long-term environmental and economic benefits, especially since heating, cooling, and dehumidification systems in buildings are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) and are estimated to consume more than 40% of the nation’s electricity.

At the U of I, the administration and students are pursuing an aggressive strategy to obtain a sustainable campus environment and become carbon neutral by eliminating or offsetting GHG emissions as soon as possible, and no later than 2050. At the CIF, the goal is to exceed the per-building metrics proposed in the 2020 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) by connecting the geothermal exchange system with radiant heating and cooling as part of an energy-efficient design that is expected to save ~2,839 million Btu (MMBtu) of energy per year and reduce GHG emissions by >70% compared to similarsized buildings. Nearly 65% of that energy load (~135 tons of heating and cooling capacity) will be supplied by the geothermal exchange system.

Unlike in western regions of the U.S. where hot fluids and steam in volcanic rocks are used to generate electricity or for direct heating, in the Midwest region geothermal energy systems typically use thermal exchange technologies that take advantage of the thermal energy stored in the Earth’s subsurface (typically within the upper 100–150 m [~330–500 ft]). Using geothermal heat pumps, refrigerant fluid or water is circulated through boreholes allowing heat to be absorbed or released to the ground (e.g., Lund 2002). The geothermal exchange system takes advantage of the constant ground temperature throughout the year below depths of ~10 m (~33 feet). The ground temperature below this depth is not impacted by seasonal changes in atmospheric conditions, and thus ground-based heating and cooling systems run more efficiently. Furthermore, geographic areas such as the U.S. Midwest region have a consistently variable climate (e.g., cold winters and hot summers), which can maximize the benefits offered by utilizing the natural thermal energy from the ground.

Energy efficiency, carbon reduction grow smart manufacturing market

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Through active initiatives to increase energy conservation and reduce carbon emissions, the smart manufacturing market is expected to reach $620 billion by 2026, according to TrendForce.

Automation, remote operations, simulation operations, and a focus on emerging markets will all drive the growth of smart manufacturing. An increase in low-carbon machinery, more sustainable packaging, and circular manufacturing will also contribute to the growth, according to the TrendForce research.

Greenwashing & the First Amendment

Shanor, Amanda and Light, Sarah E. (2022). “Greenwashing & the First Amendment.” Columbia Law Review, https://ssrn.com/abstract=4178318

Abstract: Recent explosive growth in environmental and climate-related marketing claims by business firms has raised concerns about their truthfulness. Critics argue (or at least question whether) such claims constitute greenwashing, which refers to a set of deceptive marketing practices in which an entity publicly misrepresents or exaggerates the positive environmental impact of a product, service, or the entity itself. The extent to which greenwashing can be regulated consistent with the First Amendment raises thorny doctrinal questions that have bedeviled both courts and scholars, the answers to which have implications far beyond environmental marketing claims. This essay is the first to offer both doctrinal clarity and a normative approach to understanding how the First Amendment should tackle issues at the nexus of science, politics, and markets. It contends that the analysis should be driven by the normative values underlying the protection of speech under the First Amendment in the disparate doctrines that govern these three arenas. When listeners are epistemically dependent for information on commercial speakers, regulation of such speech for truthfulness is consistent with the First Amendment and subject to the laxer review of the commercial speech doctrine. This is because citizens must have accurate information not only to knowledgably participate at the ballot box but also to have meaningful freedom in economic life itself.