Minnesota Pollution Control Agency publishes BPA/BPS thermal paper reduction case studies

December 11th, 2014 by

MPCA’s Green Chemistry and Design staff are encouraging Minnesota businesses to voluntarily reduce the amount of thermal receipt papers they use and distribute to their customers. These papers typically contain relatively high concentrations of the chemical bisphenol-A or related chemicals.

The idea is catching on, and many businesses have made the change on their own. Check out these case studies:

MPCA and Freshwater Future collaborate to spread the word about reducing PAH contamination from coal tar sealcoat

December 4th, 2014 by

This post was co-authored by Al Innes of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Cheryl Kallio of Freshwater Future. If you’d like your sustainability project featured on the GLRPPR Blog, contact Laura Barnes.

Freshwater Future, a non-profit based in west Michigan, has been “spreading” the word about reducing PAH contamination from coal tar sealcoat across the Great Lakes.  The hundreds of citizens and community-based organizations in Freshwater Future’s network learned about coal tar PAH issues over the summer, and now universities, contractors, and local governments are making commitments to move from coal tar to safer alternatives.

PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are chemicals which can cause cancer in humans and be toxic to aquatic life, and new studies are connecting them to developmental disabilities in children.  Vehicle emissions and wood smoke are other sources of PAH pollution, but coal tar sealcoat, which is around 5% PAHs by weight, is a readily-reduced source.  Applied properly, the asphalt-based sealcoats available today are equivalent in performance and cost to coal tar, at 1/1000th the amount of PAHs.  Zero-PAH alternatives are available, as well.

In response to Freshwater Future’s outreach to date, 14 Michigan cities and townships have passed resolutions not to use coal tar on city property or to encourage residents to do the same. Their location along the Great Lakes and in the watershed is important, since studies conducted in Toronto and elsewhere show coal tar PAHs being carried to lakeshore sediments by runoff from paved surfaces.

Many of the contractors committing not to apply coal tar are located near the western Michigan cities taking action, so Freshwater Future and partners can help connect property owners in those areas to the committed contractors to help grow the market for safer alternatives.

In addition, two universities in Ontario, two in Michigan, and two in Illinois have pledged not to use coal tar on their paved surfaces.  The University of Michigan had previously ended its use.

Since the project began, over 8,000 individuals and organizations have been educated, 52 property owners and providers have voluntarily taken action, and pledged contractors interviewed have eliminated 93,500 gallons of coal tar sealcoat over 2 application seasons.  The midpoint estimate of the resulting PAH reductions is 39 tons.  Partners will gather voluntary reduction data for 2014 in November and December and submit final reports to the project’s funder, EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The wave of local bans and supplier/contractor commitments in Minnesota led to a statewide ban which took effect in 2014.

The Great Lakes protection and pollution prevention networks can continue coal tar PAH reduction by educating their contacts and clientele: businesses, shopping centers, schools, universities, places of worship, local governments, homeowner associations, citizens – really, anyone owning or maintaining asphalt pavement.  Information and tools for this outreach are available through the Freshwater Future web site, at http://freshwaterfuture.org/ourissues/coal-tar-sealants/.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) will continue to accept reduction commitments from contractors, suppliers, universities, and other property owners in Great Lakes states (except in Minnesota where the statewide ban is in place) and Ontario.  MPCA staff will post these commitments and government actions in the Basin at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/uu4yx6y.  MPCA and partners encourage prevention and protection professionals to actively promote sign-ups by providers, and their hiring by pavement owners.

A compilation of project deliverables to date and links to information about the health and environmental issues associated with PAH pollution are available at https://storify.com/lbarnes/pah-pollution-from-coal-tar-sealants.

EPA Calls for Nominations for 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award

December 2nd, 2014 by

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its call for nominations for the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies or institutions that have developed a new process or product that helps protect public health and the environment.

“The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge is an opportunity for EPA to recognize green solutions and help solve critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Green chemistry is about designing products and processes that reduce energy, chemicals and water waste while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments. Ultimately, these chemicals and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. This year, EPA is excited to be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the awards.”

Nominations for innovative technologies in six categories are due to the agency by December 31, 2014. The categories are: academic; small business; greener synthetic pathways; greener reaction conditions and designing greener chemicals; and a new category for climate change. The awardees will be honored at a ceremony in Washington D.C., in July 2015.

Since the inception of the awards 20 years ago, EPA has received more than 1500 nominations and presented awards to 98 technologies. It has resulted in the reduction of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals and solvents, savings of 21 billion gallons of water, and elimination of 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide releases to air.

More information on past award winners and how to submit entries may be found at: http://www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry.

University of Washington Offers Online Green Chemistry Certificate Program

November 12th, 2014 by

This post, written by Joy Scrogum, originally appeared on the ISTC Blog.

A new certificate program from the University of Washington will help chemists, environmental and sustainability professionals, health and safety professionals and product managers make informed product decisions that take into account sustainability, toxicity and human health concerns. The certificate in Green Chemistry & Chemical Stewardship will be offered through the Professional and Continuing Education program at the University of Washington.

There will be three online courses in the certificate, and individuals can sign up for a single course on a space available basis:

The online certificate program is intended to give professionals working in chemicals management experience using comparative chemical hazard assessment tools for product selection. The classes will be offered sequentially, beginning in January, 2015, and concluding in August, 2015. Students will complete a capstone project requiring them to evaluate a chemical or product within a sustainability framework.

Thanks to our P2Rx colleague, Donna Walden, of the Western Sustainability and Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) for sharing information about this training opportunity.

Bike Sharing: The Future of Sustainable Transportation

November 11th, 2014 by

Throughout the city of Chicago, Divvy bicycle-sharing has become increasingly more prevalent since its launch in late June of 2013. This Chicago Department of Transportation program promotes sustainable public transportation by offering 3,000 bicycles at 300 stations located in many neighborhoods across the city. This fall, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced a state investment of $3 million to the program, which will provide an additional 70 stations and 700 bicycles through out Evanston, Oak Park, and Chicago. Combined with additional contributions from Evanston, Oak Park, and Chicago, totaling an additional $750,000 to the program, 175 docking stations and 1750 bikes will be added to the program by Spring 2015. Although Divvy has already been a huge success, expanding the program outside the city limits, to Oak Park and Evanston, takes more cars off the roads while simultaneously providing a larger group of people with sustainable means of transportation around the city and its surrounding areas.

Chicago is by far not the first city to introduce bike sharing. Many cities around the world, including Minneapolis, Washington DC, and London, have begun to introduce and expand similar programs. The increasing popularity and demand of such bike sharing programs could contribute greatly to decreases in traffic and carbon emissions, while increasing residents’ desires for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

More information about the program, pricing, and riding tips for newcomers can all be found on the Divvy website. With these recent plans for additions to the program, Divvy has begun to relocate several current stations to minimize distance from one station to another, so current Divvy riders may need to check for updates in order to find their relocated station.

EPA Honors the Winners of the 19th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

October 20th, 2014 by

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring green solutions and help solve critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce energy, chemicals and water waste while cutting manufacturing costs, and sparking investments. Ultimately, these chemicals and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2014 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards are presented in five categories: academic, small business, greener synthetic pathways, greener reaction conditions and designing greener chemicals. The awardees will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC.

Small business

Amyris Inc. of Emeryville, California, is being recognized for engineering yeast to make a renewable fuel replacement for petroleum diesel. Making and burning this bus and truck fuel could reduce 82 percent of green-house gas emissions as compared to petroleum diesel. Since carbon pollution increases our costs in health care and other impacts, this technology could save tens of thousands of dollars each year.

Academic

Professor Shannon Stahl, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is being recognized for discovering a way to safely and efficiently use oxygen instead of hazardous chemicals in a step commonly used to make medicine. If brought to market, these methods could have a big impact on the industry, reducing chemicals and waste, and saving companies time and money.

Greener Reaction Conditions, Designing Greener Chemicals, and Greener Synthetic Pathways

Solazyme, Inc., of South San Francisco, California, is being recognized for developing novel oils from sugar and engineered algae in a way that significantly reduces the environmental effects that typically occur in producing and processing petroleum-based or plant-based oils. Soaps, laundry detergents, food products, fuels, and industrial products can now be produced with greatly reduced energy, water and waste, saving money. The company’s palm-oil equivalent can help reduce deforestation and greenhouse gases that can occur from cultivation of palm oil.

QD Vision, Inc. of Lexington, Massachusetts, for developing a process to make more efficient LED lighting and displays for TVs and mobile devices with less environmental impacts and waste. The new LED lighting material may make it possible to save 36 percent of your T.V. energy costs. Using their technology in just 10 percent of flat-screen TVs can save 600 million kilowatt-hours worldwide every year. That is enough to provide electricity for 50,000 homes for one year. Even better, producing these materials avoids using an estimated 40,000 gallons of solvents per year. This technology brings massive energy savings and is good for the planet with reduced carbon and heavy metals emissions, and less use of toxic chemicals.

The Solberg Company of Green Bay, Wisconsin, for developing a safer foam using surfactants and sugars that can fight fires better than traditional foams that rely on persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals. One of the world’s largest oil and gas companies will be using this foam to fight fuel fires and spills. The product works better and is safer – a win-win for industry and protecting our health and the environment.

About EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

During the 19 years of the program, EPA has received more than 1,500 nominations and presented awards to 98 technologies. Winning technologies over the lifetime of the program are responsible for reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.

EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Program award winners have significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing, and using chemicals. An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2014 winners.

The 2014 awards event will be held in conjunction with an industry partners’ roundtable.

More information: http://www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry.

October is Rise Above Plastics Month

October 15th, 2014 by

RAP logo

Rise Above Plastics Month

Rise Above Plastics Month is a month-long initiative encouraging the public to reduce their plastic footprint and raise awareness about the harmful effects caused by single-use plastics in our marine and coastal environments, including the Great Lakes region.

Throughout October, the Surfrider Foundation will ‘Rise Above Plastics’ by providing tips on how you can reduce your plastic footprint and simple ways to implement change in your daily routine. Take the Rise Above Plastics pledge to commit to using less plastics every day.

You can also join your local Surfrider Chapter’s annual plastic trash cleanup and enter Surfrider’s Plastic Art Contest. Show your creativity and help to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution. Enter to have a chance to win an epic prize pack including a Firewire Tibertek surfboard or Bureo skateboard, Spy + Surfrider Helm Sunglasses, ChicoBag and Surfrider gear.

The Rise Above Plastics program (RAP) is the Surfrider Foundation’s response to the problem of plastic litter in our ocean and marine environments. The goal of the program is to educate the public on the impacts single-use plastics have on marine environments, and how individuals can make changes in their daily lives and within their communities that will stem the flow of plastics into the environment. RAP also calls upon people to reduce their plastic footprint by reducing or eliminating the use of products such as single-use plastic water bottles and plastic bags.

Some facts about plastics compiled by RAP include:

  • The amount of plastic produced from 2000 – 2010 exceeds the amount produced during the entire last century.[1]
  • Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.[2]
  • An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine litter.[3]
  • Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.[4]
  • Plastics comprise up to 90% of floating marine debris.[5]
  • In 2009 about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks and wraps” were generated in the United States, but only 9.4% of this total was recycled.[6]
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins, and enter our food chain through fish, sea birds and other marine life.[7]
  • Plastic bags are problematic in the litter stream because they float easily in the air and water, traveling long distances and never fully breaking down in water.
  • Cleanup of plastic bags is costly. California spends $25 million annually to landfill discarded plastic bags, and public agencies spend more than $300 million annually in litter cleanup.[8]
  • It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman and child in the country.[9]

Learn More

Plastics Pollution in the Great Lakes and the Marine Debris Problem
State University of New York researchers collaborated with the Los Angeles-based 5 Gyres Institute to study plastic pollutants in the Great Lakes Region. Read about their project and learn more about the problem of plastics pollution in the world’s water bodies. Newly updated to include recent research and news about microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes.

EPA Increases Access to Information Regarding Toxic Chemicals

October 13th, 2014 by

Last week, the US EPA reported that it has posted additional data and improved usability of ChemView, a database of chemicals regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). By giving the public greater access to chemical information, the EPA assists consumers in making smarter decisions about the ingredients in everyday products. The EPA added more Significant New Use Rules (SNURs), additional chemicals, and an updated Safer Chemicals Ingredients list. This online tool now provides information on almost 10,000 chemicals. Not only has the update provide more information to users, but also it has improved the display, to increase efficiency when using the tool.

The EPA launched ChemView in 2013 to increase the availability of information on chemicals as part of a commitment to strengthen the existing chemicals program and improve access to and usefulness of chemical data and information. The tool displays key health and safety information and uses data in a format that allows quick understanding, with links to more detailed information. Searches can be conducted by chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service number, use, hazard effect, or regulatory action and has the flexibility to create tailored views of the information on individual chemicals.

Check out the updates and complete this ten minute customer satisfaction survey to provide the agency with your feedback on the usefulness of the tool, how its functionality can be improved, and suggestions for additional content.

Introducing the Greening Sports Directory (GSD)

October 8th, 2014 by

Courtesy of the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center, our P2Rx Center partner in Region 10.

What is the Greening Sports Directory?

Introducing the Greening Sports DirectoryThe Greening Sports Directory (or GSD) is a comprehensive directory of local, regional, and national contacts and resources to help sports facilities green their operations – whether professional, university-level, or recreational. Facilities looking to improve their energy efficiency or their green purchasing practices now have a rich list of contacts available to assist their efforts. The directory is organized into 20 specific Green Topics. It currently includes 18 major metro areas in 16 states. PPRC updates and adds to the directory on a monthly basis. This month, we added three new metro areas: Indianapolis, Dallas, and Atlanta.

 Who is it for?

Our primary audiences are sports organizations – from professional teams to pee-wee leagues. But the GSD includes useful resources for every kind of organization – businesses large to small, manufacturing industries to the service and hospitality sector. Whatever your sector, we encourage you to check out the directory to see how it can serve your needs. Green Sports Directory  Screen Shot

What does each metropolitan area listing include?

Listings for each metropolitan area include dozens of national, regional, and local resources organized by specific green topics, including construction & demolition debris; electronic wastes; energy efficiency; fan engagement; food donation; water; and waste & recycling.

Why a directory for sports?

Sports serve as a powerful cultural force. To green sports offers a huge opportunity to move the sustainability needle in both cities and in households. Additionally, we saw a need for a comprehensive and vetted directory that connects organizations with those regional and national resources best suited to help them. Having a slew of good resources at hand will help organizations make comprehensive and time-effective efforts to green their operations. For more Greening Sports resources, check out our Greening Sport page, as well as GLRPPR’s Green Sports sector resource.

The directory was created by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC) with support from the EPA and the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx).

 

 

Climate Action Champions: Request for Applications

October 1st, 2014 by

From the solicitation:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to advancing the Administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

In recognition of the importance of the dual policy goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing climate resilience, the DOE­ – in close collaboration with other Federal agencies – is launching an initiative to identify and showcase U.S. local and tribal governments that have proven to be climate leaders through pursuing opportunities to advance both of these goals in their communities. In particular, the initiative will select 10-15 U.S. local governments and tribal governments – or regional collaborations or consortia thereof – that demonstrate a strong and ongoing commitment to implementing strategies that both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience, with a particular emphasis on strategies that further both goals. The DOE-led effort will provide a platform for other Federal agencies to participate in, and give leverage to, the activities of communities that are selected for this initiative.

The DOE initiative is being led as a combined effort through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the Office of Indian Energy, and the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

From a story about the Initiative in The Hill:

The federal government will not award any funds as part of the initiative…

The Energy Department will administer the competition, but agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Interior Department will provide specific assistance to the communities…

Specifically, participating communities will get climate data and tools from various federal agencies to help write projections and make planning decisions.

They’ll also be able to participate in a federally organized peer group of communities fighting climate change and have access to Energy Department programs on deploying solar power locally.

For more information: