Opposition to Waste-to-Energy: A Waste of Waste?

Read the full post at ReVolt.

At a May 11 event in Washington, D.C. cohosted by the German Embassy and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, panelists discussed the differences in how Germany and the United States deal with their municipal solid waste (MSW). Germany, which created a national ban on landfilling MSW without pre-treatment in 2005, sent only 1 percent of its MSW to landfills in 2007. Sixty-four percent of Germany’s waste was recycled or composted, and the remaining 35 percent was incinerated in waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities. The United States, on the other hand, landfills 69 percent of its MSW, recycling only 24 percent and using 7 percent for WTE.

At first glance, WTE would seem to be a win-win. It involves incinerating MSW to run a turbine and produce electricity. WTE reduces the amount of space needed for landfills by 90 percent, prevents the expenditure involved with procuring fossil fuels and disposing of MSW, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding methane emissions from landfills and replacing fossil fuel consumption in waste transport and electricity production.

But WTE has many opponents, for a wide variety of reasons. Some object to the high costs. In the United States especially, with so much unused land, landfilling is cheap and the economics of any alternative are not good. Other critics worry about local air pollution or simply don’t want an industrial facility that deals in garbage near their homes or businesses. And some see WTE as taking attention and urgency away from recycling and composting (a better method of dealing with waste) and therefore believe it does more harm than good. This post will look deeper into this last claim.

Carbon Labeling: Putting the Power in Consumer's Hands

Read the full story from Vanderbilt University.

Almost all climate scientists agree that actions must be taken to lower carbon emissions, also known as greenhouse gases, to reduce the risk of damage to the environment and ultimately human health. A group of researchers say adding carbon labels to products could help change purchasing behavior and corporate supply chains, ultimately leading to large emissions reductions. They propose a private labeling system to fill the gap until national and international rules are adopted.

Coming Soon: A Massive Wind Farm to Power Kenya

Read the full story in Fast Company.

There are some 700 million people in Africa without access to electricity. As the continent modernizes, those people will need power. But could African power be a perfect place for leapfrog technology–when a developing society goes straight to the most modern technology without going through the iterations seen in the developed world? A new windfarm in Kenya might indicate yes.

Bill would keep light bulbs burning in S.C.

Read the full story in The Sun News.

If state Rep. Bill Sandifer has his way, incandescent light bulbs will keep burning brightly in the Palmetto State after the rest of the nation switches to lower-energy-using bulbs.

The South Carolina Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act, which is up for debate on the House floor next week, would allow makers of the traditional bulbs in South Carolina to continue selling their product – but only in S.C.

That way, Sandifer said, the interstate commerce issue that the federal government uses as its basis to regulate such things wouldn’t come into play, and states’ rights would prevail.

W. K. Kellogg Foundation Funds an Endowed Chair in Sustainable Environmental Food Systems at the UNM

Read the full story from the University of New Mexico.

The Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico Sus­tain­abil­ity Stud­ies Pro­gram has received a $1.5 mil­lion grant for an endowed chair in sus­tain­able envi­ron­men­tal food sys­tems and $150,000 in start-up funds from the W.K. Kel­logg Foun­da­tion. The endow­ment will sup­port edu­ca­tion that increases the well-being of stu­dents and cit­i­zens by advanc­ing envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence and social equity applied to the devel­op­ment of local food systems.

Applications now being accepted for 2011 Illinois Governor's Sustainability Awards

The University of Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is now accepting applications for the 2011 Governor’s Sustainability Awards. The Center, in cooperation with the Office of the Governor, has honored organizations for their efforts in sustainability and pollution prevention since 1987. 2011 marks the 25th year of the Awards.

For the award application, please tell us your story. We want to know what you did, how you did it, and how it helped your organization, the environment, and your community. This is a competitive award, and successful applicants will provide detailed, creative, and compelling descriptions of significant activities whose benefits encompass the three aspects of sustainability: environment, society, and economy. Applications will only be accepted electronically and must be submitted to GovsAwards@istc.illinois.edu by May 27, 2011 for consideration.