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July 31, 2013

GM expands landfill-free efforts

General Motors’ Rayong engine plant in Thailand and Cheongna proving ground in Korea are now landfill-free, bringing the company’s total to 33 sites throughout Asia that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all of their daily waste. This is about half of GM’s operations in Asia. GM’s landfill-free facility count in Asia compares to 45 in North America and 22 in Europe. GM’s worldwide total is 106. The company has committed to achieving 125 landfill-free facilities by 2020.

As GM facilities around the world work to become landfill free, they discuss challenges and share ideas to help cut waste, the company says. GM says it recycles and reuses more waste from its manufacturing facilities than any other automaker, and no other automaker has as many sites contributing zero waste to landfill. The company has also published a downloadable blueprint, The Business Case for Zero Waste, intended to help businesses of all sizes and industries reduce waste and create efficiencies.

In addition to its landfill-free efforts, the automaker has begun several other sustainability initiatives in the past few months. In mid-July, GM’s OnStar announced a project with TimberRock Energy Solutions that uses aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid. It will be the first “real-world” use of OnStar’s smart grid technology.


Read more at Environmental Leader.

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July 23, 2013

WBCSD launches India Water Tool to support effective water resource management

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched today the India Water Tool to help companies better assess their water risks and manage their water use more efficiently in India. The tool is the first national customization of the WBCSD’s widely acclaimed Global Water Tool launched in 2007.

The India Water Tool is a free IT-based resource integrating groundwater data from across India. Any company operating in the country can use the tool to input its location and water-use data, and it will automatically generate maps and charts displaying which of the company’s operations face the biggest groundwater availability and quality risks. The software was developed by technology partner, Infosys.

The tool is not tailored to any specific sector but can help small and large companies across Indian industry to understand their water priorities and inform their water management decisions. This is crucial first step for any business striving to better its water use and should be followed by a detailed assessment of water use and stewardship options at plant level.

Read more at WBCSD.

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July 19, 2013

UK opens ‘world’s first’ coffee cup recycling plant

A £5m plant thought to be the first in the world to recycle disposable coffee cups into high quality paper products was opened yesterday.

The technology has been developed by Kendal-based James Cropper, a specialist paper and materials company, which has constructed the fibre plant at its production mill in Cumbria. The company says the millions of paper coffee cups that are used each year have been unsuitable for paper making until now because of the five percent plastic content, resulting in an estimated 2.5 million cups ending up in landfill in the UK annually.

James Cropper’s unique technology softens the cup waste in a warmed solution, separating the plastic coating from the fibre. The plastic is then skimmed off, pulverized and recycled. Impurities are filtered out leaving high grade pulp suitable for use in luxury papers and packaging materials.

Mark Cropper, chairman of James Cropper, said: “Cup waste is a rich source of high grade pulp fibre, but until now the plastic content made this product a contaminant in paper recycling. Our technology changes that and also addresses a major environmental waste problem and accompanying legislation.”

Read more at EcoBusiness.

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July 16, 2013

Small steps create big savings for buildings owners

It doesn’t take much for building owners to enjoy savings from energy efficiency, as non-profit Carbon War Room explains in a report. However, despite the potential, many private building owners miss out on the financial rewards of readily available technology.

The white paper, “Raising the Roof: How to Create Climate Wealth Through Energy Efficiency,” says misinformation and a lack of understanding are just a few reasons why building owners leave easy money on the table. That’s according to research gathered from 30 municipalities, from Chicago, to Wellington, New Zealand, over 30 months.

Yet with key steps, buildings can slash their energy use by 80 percent, cutting more than $78 billion per year from the electricity bills of American consumers and businesses. The report provides building owners and city sustainability officers with fine points about harnessing technology, finance and policy.

The Carbon War Room’s research included examining energy systems that worked and the needed improvements; looking at cities’ energy benchmarks to gauge whether they’ve helped in savings; using software to track the energy output of municipalities studied; and gathering feedback on the hurdles and opportunities of launching energy plans.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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July 16, 2013

EPEAT adds green ratings to mobile phones

The Green Electronics Council is teaming up with UL Environment to add a mobile device category to the EPEAT green electronics registry. Given the rate at which individuals purchase new mobile phones, commonly as often as every two years, EPEAT decided to make the new list a priority.

For now, the list includes phones and smartphones that are already part of the UL 110 standard of sustainability for mobile phones. However, items such as tablet computers will be considered in the future as either part of this group or as an entirely separate list.

“Mobile products evolve quickly and have a short lifecycle, presenting us with a clear opportunity to significantly reduce their environmental impact,” said Robert Frisbee, CEO of the Green Electronics Council, the organization that manages EPEAT.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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July 15, 2013

LEED v4 Integrates Cradle to Cradle Program

The US Green Building Council’s LEED v4 rating system, approved earlier this month by member voters, includes the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products program.

The Cradle to Cradle program is a circular economy system in which manufacturers and designers create products with technical materials that can be used in continuous cycles or biological ones that can be disposed of in any natural environment and decompose into the soil.

LEED v4 will take effect in November. Its endorsement of Cradle to Cradle Certified products shows the USGBC’s deepening commitment to material health and improving the impacts of buildings on the well-being of humans and the environment, says architect William McDonough, who co-developed the certification program.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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July 15, 2013

Green manufacturer moves from China to New York

Trellis Earth Products, which makes bioplastic serviceware, is moving its manufacturing operations from China to Rochester, NY to get closer to customers and cut costs. In an interesting switch, Tresllis joins a growing list of manufacturers who are leaving China because of rising energy and labor costs.

Trellis makes over 100 non-petroleum products, such as forks, knives and spoons for food service companies looking for green alternatives to disposable plastics. These bioplastic products - made from plant starch ? are distributed by major food service companies in the U.S. to over 1,000 customers nationally.

By the end of this summer, Trellis will break ground on an 80,000-square foot facility in Rochester Technology Park. The company will gear up to manufacture more than 50 million forks, knives and spoons a month, along with flexible products such as clamshells, school lunch trays and plates. It starts production by the end of the next year.

Empire State Development offered Trellis an incentive package with direct ties to job creation and contribution to the local economy. In exchange for $1.5 million in tax credits and a $500,000 capital grant, Trellis will invest $8.3 million and create 189 full-time jobs by June 2018. The county is also helping through a $500,000 in low interest financing, up to $300,000 in an interest subsidies, $50,000 for training and possible rebates on equipment purchases.

Read more at Sustainable Business News.

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July 15, 2013

Recycling saves General Motors $1bn

General Motors (GM) generated $1bn revenue from recycling and reuse initiatives last year, the automotive giant revealed in its latest sustainability report. The company confirmed that it recycles 90 percent of its worldwide manufacturing waste and has 105 landfill-free facilities across the globe, a figure it aims to raise by 125 by the end of the decade.

As part of the waste reduction push, plants in India, Thailand and Russia have replaced wooden pallets with reusable plastic, saving 566 tons of waste, while new auto paint robots and processes to reduce the use of paint thinner have saved up to 200 tons across two plants. These innovations have helped GM reduce total waste by 25 kilograms per vehicle since 2010.

Progress has also been made in reducing energy use and carbon emissions, which have fallen seven percent and five percent respectively since 2010. The company said it now uses more than 60MW of solar, landfill gas and biomass energy capacity at its facilities, putting it about halfway to its 125 MW renewable energy target. Meanwhile, energy conservation initiatives have saved the company $66m in energy costs.

Read more at Business Green.

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July 10, 2013

WRI launches online GHG Data Tool

The World Resources Institute has launched an updated version of its online greenhouse gas emissions tool that WRI says can help businesses better understand and benchmark their county-level emissions.

The Climate Analysis Indicators Tool, or CAIT 2.0, is a free portal that provides data on GHG emissions from 185 countries and all 50 US states, plus other climate data. CAIT 2.0 allows users to view, sort, visualize and download data sets for comparative analysis. It can help firms adjust to different policies and improve longer-term emissions management, WRI spokesman Michael Oko tells Environmental Leader. “CAIT 2.0 can also help identify emission by sector, such as industrial emissions or transportation emissions, which can be helpful for businesses looking to benchmark their greenhouse gas contributions,” Oko says.

WRI launched the original CAIT in December 2003. CAIT 2.0 is more user-friendly, WRI says, allowing users to access the international GHG emissions data set, narrow it down by year, gas or county, for example, and create downloadable data visualizations. Also, each specific data view has a unique URL, making it easier to share links to specific findings.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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July 10, 2013

West Africa Nations Agree to Phase Out Inefficient Incandescent Lamps

Government representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have successfully established a regionally coordinated framework to transition to energy efficient lighting. The strategy identifies the complete phase-out of inefficient incandescent lamps by 2020 at the latest, which could save the region an estimated US$ 220 million per year in energy costs. The Ministry of Energy and Mines of the Republic of Senegal agreed to sponsor all events of efficient lighting initiative, at the request of ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE) in order to rally other ECOWAS member states.

The announcement comes on the heels of a workshop for the development of a regional strategy for energy efficient lighting held from July 2-3, 2013 in Dakar, Senegal. The event was hosted by the ECREE and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) en.lighten initiative, with support of the Club of National Agencies and Structures in Charge of Rural Electrification (Club-ER).

The workshop raised awareness and built consensus on the various technical options available at regional and international levels for the development of a concrete regional efficient lighting strategy. By phasing out incandescent lighting, African nations together could save a total of 2.4 terawatt hours of electricity; equivalent to 6.67 percent of total annual energy consumption. The savings would be enough to power over 1.2 million households.

Read more at UNEP News Centre.

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July 8, 2013

Panasonic leads e-waste recycling programme in Singapore

Electronics conglomerate Panasonic Asia Pacific launched a new program for recycling home appliances and electronic waste in Singapore. Called the Heartland E-waste Recycling Program, the CSR initiative is a pilot project running from July to December 2013 at Marine Parade and Mountbatten, or Singapore’s south east district.

Panasonic has partnered with the South East Community Development Council (CDC), National Environment Agency (NEA), electrical and electronics retailer Best Denki, e-waste recycler Cimelia and public waste collector SembWaste to provide an integrated, convenient recycling platform covering different avenues, from community to retailer level. The six-month trial program is Panasonic’s solution to raise awareness on the nature of electronic waste, and more importantly to encourage recycling through a hassle-free collection system.

Collection points are currently in place at ten resident committee centers in Marine Parade and Mountbatten. Residents can dispose their portable e-waste in these locations, as well as general waste like paper, plastic bottles and aluminum cans. There will be monthly collection drives at the centers starting on July 14 and succeeding collections will be held every first Sunday of the month. Aside from portable e-waste, bulky e-waste and large home appliances can be disposed through the Marine Parade Town Council Bulky Items Removal Service, which can collect up to three bulky items per household per month for free.

Another alternative is the retailer level, where consumers can recycle their portable e-waste at collection bins found at the Best Denki outlet at Parkway Parade mall and the bulky e-waste can be collected upon purchase and delivery of a new appliance. Cimelia will then collect the e-waste gathered both by the town council and Best Denki for recycling.

In addition, Panasonic will also be conducting awareness talks in different schools and organizing field trips to their factory and Cimelia’s recycling plant to let students learn more about the concept of recycling and green manufacturing. If the program goes well, Panasonic aims to expand the Heartland E-waste project nationwide. The goal is to have the program replicated in each CDC district.

Read more at Eco-Business.

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July 3, 2013

Carbon Trust branches out with international waste management standard

The Carbon Trust has revealed plans for a new waste standard designed to help businesses demonstrate that they are measuring and managing down their waste levels in a responsible manner. The proposed waste standard will be modeled on the Carbon Standard and the recently introduced Carbon Trust water management standard. However, a spokesman for the company said organizations obtaining the new standard will have to demonstrate they are managing waste effectively and not simply reducing waste levels.

“Waste management is about more than just reducing waste tonnage,” he explained. “It is about moving up the waste hierarchy so that you are reducing or reusing waste where possible. Gaining the waste standard will not be as simple as reducing waste tonnage, organizations will have to be able to show they are managing the waste stream.”

The company is planning to pilot the standard with a number of organizations over the summer before getting the final methodology signed off by its standards board. The standard should then be officially launched alongside the announcement of the first wave of organizations to obtain the label during autumn.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said the new standard would help companies demonstrate that they are managing their waste in a responsible manner, while also promoting waste management processes that help to cut costs and improve environmental performance. The company added there was a direct connection between its new efforts to promote effective waste management and its core goal of tackling greenhouse gas emissions, noting that organic waste accounts for five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read more at BusinessGreen.

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July 1, 2013

New groups seeks to spearhead sustainable purchasing

Purchasing managers who try to make sustainable choices have a lot of questions to grapple with: What paper has the least impact? What eco-label is the most important for cleaning products? How do you choose a sustainable computer? While the U.S. government and major companies like Walmart, Procter & Gamble and Kaiser Permanente have sustainable purchasing policies or rank suppliers baed on their environmental impacts, not all companies have the resource to devote to sifting through all the different eco-labels, ratings, seals and claims to make the most sustainable choices.

Hoping to give purchasers guidance as well as recognize leaders, leaders in business as well as nonprofit and government groups are forming the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC). The overarching goals of the SPLC are to define, guide, measure and reward sustainable purchasing. It’s planning to get there by bringing together industry, government, academia, standards organizations and non-governmental organizations.

The SPLC aims first to define what it means to purchase sustainably, codifying best practices. It will also create methods for measuring the impacts of a company’s or organization’s procurement spending, as well as identify ways to address those impacts for the better. As a last step, the SPLC takes a page from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program and will create a recognition program for leaders in sustainable procurement.

The SPLC will expand on its mission and plans during a launch webcast on July 23 with GreenBiz.

Read more at GreenBiz.

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