Final Report of the Governor’s Task Force on Waste Materials Recovery and Disposal
Mon, 26 Oct 2009 21:28:16 GMT
Waste is a fact of life. Materials that are not fully consumed or reclaimed are generally discarded. As a result, our natural resources are strained in at least two significant respects. First, resources used to produce goods and services are not being consumed efficiently. Second, natural resources are impacted by the management of waste, whether by composting, recycling, incineration, or landfilling. Landfills are developed, for example, and the corresponding use of land is permanently altered. Air emissions occur as waste is composted, incinerated or left to decompose in a landfill. Local water resources might be affected. The more waste, the greater the impact, and these impacts can last over long periods of time to the detriment of future generations both environmentally and economically. If waste generation can be minimized — or even prevented — we can reduce the strain on natural resources. Indeed, the prudent use and preservation of natural resources are the hallmarks of environmental stewardship. While we recognize that waste is a current fact of life, or at least life as we have come to know it, there may come a point in time when the amount of waste generated, or the rate of waste disposal itself, is simply too great to be supported by society over the long haul from an economic and environmental perspective. After all, the current model, to the extent it involves the consumption of natural resources to make products that are used and discarded, does not mimic natural systems where waste is recycled and its components are reused in future cycles of production again and again.
A GreenPrint for Minnesota: State Plan for Environmental Education, Third Edition
Mon, 26 Oct 2009 20:23:01 GMT
GreenPrint, third edition is the third state plan produced under the direction of the Minnesota Environmental Education Advisory Board, a state board of 20 members representing state agencies and congressional districts. The Board’s goal for this 10-year plan is that, “Users of GreenPrint, third edition create, deliver, and support environmental education in Minnesota that promotes healthy natural and social systems and their relationships.” Its intent is to offer guidance to those helping Minnesota citizens achieve the state goals for environmental education and ultimately attain environmental literacy — the understanding of natural and social systems and their interactions.
Managing Electronic Waste: Issues with Exporting E-Waste
Fri, 23 Oct 2009 21:22:07 GMT
Electronic waste (e-waste) is a term that is used loosely to refer to obsolete, broken, or irreparable electronic devices like televisions, computer central processing units (CPUs), computer monitors (flat screen and cathode ray tubes), laptops, printers, scanners, and associated wiring. E-waste has become a concern in the United States due to the high volumes in which it is generated, the hazardous constituents it often contains (such as lead, mercury, and chromium), and the lack of regulations applicable to its disposal or recycling. Under most circumstances, e-waste can legally be disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill or recycled with few environmental regulatory requirements. Concerns about e-waste landfill disposal have led federal and state environmental agencies to encourage recycling. To date, 19 states have implemented some form of mandatory e-waste recycling program. These state requirements, mixed with increased consumer awareness regarding potential problems with landfilling e-waste, have led to an increase in recycling. With that increase have come new questions about e-waste management. Instead of questions only about the potential impacts associated with e-waste disposal, questions have arisen regarding the potential danger associated with e-waste recycling–particularly when recycling involves the export of e-waste to developing countries where there are few requirements to protect workers or the environment. Answering questions about both e-waste disposal and recycling involves a host of challenges. For example, little information is available to allow a complete assessment of how e-waste ultimately managed. General estimates have been made about the management of cathode ray tubes (CRTs, the only devices where disposal is federally regulated), but little reliable information is available regarding other categories of e-waste. For example, accurate data regarding how much is generated, how it is managed (through disposal or recycling), and where it is processed (either domestically or abroad) are largely unknown. Further, little information is available regarding the total amount of functioning electronics exported to developing countries for legitimate reuse. What is known is that e-waste recycling involves complex processes and it is more costly to recycle e-waste in the United States, where there is a limited recycling infrastructure. It also is known that most consumer electronics manufacturers (who provide the market for material recovery from recycled electronics) have moved overseas. As a result, the majority of e-waste collected for recycling (either for reuse or recycling) appears to be exported for processing. Although there may be limited data regarding how e-waste is managed, the consequences of export to countries that manage it improperly are becoming increasingly evident. In particular, various reports and studies (by the mainstream media, environmental organizations, and university researchers) have found primitive waste management practices in India and various countries in Africa and Asia. Operations in Guiyu in the Shantou region of China have gained particular attention. Observed recycling operations involve burning the plastic coverings of materials to extract metals for scrap, openly burning circuit boards to remove solder or soaking them in acid baths to strip them for gold or other metals. Acid baths are then dumped into surface water. Among other impacts to those areas have been elevated blood lead levels in children and soil and water contaminated with heavy metals. The impacts associated with e-waste exports have led to concerns from environmental organizations, members of the public, and some Members of Congress.
Gathering Chemical Information and Advancing Safer Chemistry in Complex Supply Chains: Case Studies of Nike, S.C. Johnson, and Hewlett-Packard M
Fri, 23 Oct 2009 21:13:38 GMT
Consumer product companies need chemical information from their supply chains for many reasons, including the design of products that are safe for human health and the environment, regulatory compliance, participation in green certification programs, disclosure of chemical ingredients in products to retailers and customers, and preparation of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Companies with large, complex,global supply chains face many challenges in getting this information. The Green Chemistry in Commerce Council (GC3), a project of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, commissioned three case studies of leading firms with complex supply chains to explore and share experiences on how companies gather chemical information from their supply chains and how they use this information to develop safer products. The three companies are Nike, S.C. Johnson (SCJ) and Hewlett-Packard (HP). The case studies conducted for this project examined a number of questions: 1. Why is the company seeking chemical information from their supply chain? 2. What types of chemical information is the company seeking? 3. How is the company gathering chemical information from its supply chain? What system is it using? 4. What systems are companies using to manage chemicals in products? 5. What systems are companies using to create safer products using chemical information? 6. What challenges have existed and what has worked well to gather chemical information, manage chemicals and design safer products? All three firms studied are sizable, consumer product companies with large and complex supply chains. They are diverse with regard to the types of products that they manufacture and the types of raw materials that they procure from their supply chain. The reader should keep this in mind when reading the cases and lessons reported in this document. Information gathered for the cases came from interviews with personnel at each firm, internal documents provided by the firms, and publicly available information. The companies were given the opportunity to review and comment on case study drafts. This summary report is designed to synthesize the lessons learned and best practices that were distilled from the case studies.
Design and Operation of a Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator (CERV) for Passive Houses
Thu, 22 Oct 2009 23:26:36 GMT
This seminar was presented by Ben Newell, Newell Instruments, Inc., on January 22, 2009 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in Champaign, IL.
Ty and Ben Newell presented information about their work on creating a comfort conditioning system for a zero energy residence. The seminar discussed the energy conditioning characteristics of energy efficient homes and a system under development to meet these requirements. Central Illinois is a difficult environment for efficient conditioning of buildings. Arctic blasts in the winter and hot, humid summers require conditioning systems that have the capacity to operate efficiently in the extremes of winter and summer. Zero energy homes (also called Net-zero homes) are highly insulated and sealed buildings that require relatively low capacity, but highly flexible heating and cooling capabilities. Newell Instruments is developing a new class of house conditioning system called a CERV (Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator) designed for superinsulated and supersealed homes. The system is an air-source heat pump designed to operate in the most extreme cold weather (below 0F) and, to cool and dehumidify during the summer. The system also provides fresh air ventilation to the conditioned space.
Wind Farms in Central Illinois
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 23:35:13 GMT
This seminar was presented by Randall Lloyd, Agricultural Awareness Coordinator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County, on February 5, 2009 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in Champaign, IL.
Due to technical issues, the first five minutes of this presentation is unavailable. Randall Lloyd, Agricultural Awareness Coordinator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County, is involved with the Twin Groves Wind Farm in eastern McLean County as a land and turbine owner. He and his family have been involved with the project since its inception in 2001 and now have four turbines on their property southeast of Ellsworth. As part of his role as Agricultural Awareness Coordinator, Lloyd has developed a tour program where participants are able to observe the turbines “up close and personal!” The two hour tour includes the geography, geology and history of McLean County and the part these each play in the development of the Twin Groves Wind Farm. He also has a program for audiences unable to actually visit the wind farm. Over the past two years, more than 1,000 people have participated in these two programs, including visitors from six states and 44 foreign countries. He will share this program with us and provide insights about wind turbines and agriculture in Central Illinois.
Carbon–The Currency of the Future
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 23:32:18 GMT
This seminar was presented by Eric Jackson, Senior Carbon Expert at the UIUC Environmental Change Institute and CEO of CP Holdings, LLC (dba Carbonless Promise), on March 10, 2009 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in Champaign, IL.
Eric Jackson discussed his role as senior carbon expert at the new Environmental Change Institute on the UIUC campus and the work he has conducted on assessing carbon footprints and magaging carbon credits for industries and other agencies throughout the US.
A Systematic Approach to Renewable Energy: Growing Jatropha curcas for Biodiesel Production in Haiti
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 23:28:19 GMT
This seminar was presented by Tim Lindsey and Joe Pickowitz, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, on March 18, 2009 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in Champaign, IL.
Tim Lindsey and Joe Pickowitz of ISTC will discuss their recent trip to Haiti with Kathleen Robbins who works with the organization PARTNER FOR PEOPLE AND PLACE, which provides planning and technical assistance for humanitarian and environmental projects on the frontline of poverty. The group operates a Haitian nonprofit business, Jatropha Pepinye, to support the cultivation of Jatropha curcas, a plant that provides a cash crop to farmers, and oil for value-added products like biodiesel and soap. The business itself – a tree nursery – provides jobs and training to local residents and field trials for Jatropha research. In a related project, the organization is developing alternatives to traditional charcoal-making using sustainable forestry and high-efficiency energy conversion. The group sees renewable fuels as part of the effort to re-green Haiti, which is almost totally deforested.
Retrocommissioning at UIUC–Saving the Planet One Building at a Time
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 23:24:34 GMT
This seminar was presented by Karl Helmink and Damon McFall, UIUC Facilities and Services Dept., on April 8, 2009 at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in Champaign, IL.
Mr. Helmink discussed retrocommissioning (RCx) celebrating its first year of success on the UIUC campus. In this year, RCx has completed work in the following five buildings: 1) National Soybean Research Center, 2) Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 3) Newmark Civil Engineering Building, 4) Turner Hall, and 5) ACES Library, Info. & Alumni Center. RCx is estimated to reduce overall energy usage and building utility costs by 20%. Retrocommissioning is essential for our campus to continue its path towards sustainability. This talk will highlight the year’s activity in retrocommissioning various buildings and plans for the future.