Archive for October, 2012
What’s the world’s most widely used material? Water, of course. What’s the world’s second-most widely used material? It’s concrete. The composite of cement, water and aggregate — usually crushed limestone, granite or possibly sand – has been used for at least 3,000 years. Its relatively harmless contents don’t seem to make it a green villain — but it’s not the contents that pose the problem. It’s the energy intensity of the production of concrete, which is high in emissions. In fact, about 8 to 15 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions are attributed to concrete manufacturing.
About 8 billion cubic meters of concrete are manufactured each year, equaling a staggering one cubic meter for every person on Earth.
Waste concrete is everywhere — in every building demolition and replaced bridge and roadway — which is why interest in concrete recycling is rising. In years past, used concrete was simply dumped into landfills. Today, many construction projects have turned to concrete recycling not only to improve environmental conditions, but also to save money. Read the rest of this entry »
When it comes to measuring progress in the world, economic measures just aren’t enough — measures such as sustainability, health, education and subjective well-being need to be taken into account, as well. That’s the conclusion reached at a four-day forum hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in New Delhi, India, Oct. 16-19. OECD gave the theme “Measuring Well-Being for Development and Policy Making” to its fourth World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy. Read the rest of this entry »
Is zero waste to landfill really just a pipe dream for manufacturers? It would be depressing to think so, since industrial facilities in the United States pack 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste into land disposal units annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Zero waste to landfill (also known as zero waste), the concept of turning normally discarded industrial waste materials into resources for others to use, according to the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA), involves designing and managing products and processes to find ways to render them still usable after their useful lives instead of being destined for the landfill heap. Read the rest of this entry »
The health of over 125 million people living in developing countries is at risk from industrial pollution and emissions, a problem that grows as manufacturing shifts to Third World nations, says a new report. “The World’s Worst Pollution Problems 2012: Assessing Health Risks at Hazardous Waste Sites,” by the Blacksmith Institute, in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland, also reveals the industries contributing the most to this burden. Read the rest of this entry »
While it still faces formidable challenges, solar power is making inroads into regular, everyday American life. Solar panel installations can be seen everywhere, from private residences to shopping malls to office parks to convention centers, and they are starting to take significant hold at educational institutions.
Solar power is not just about cash-strapped school districts looking to save a few dollars on energy costs but also a way for them to raise money by selling renewable energy credits. For many school systems, the installation of solar panels on school buildings opens up a brand new avenue of curriculum, in renewable and clean energy education. Read the rest of this entry »
Biorefining, the process of using biomass or plant-based raw materials, such as plants, plant oils, seeds and grains, and refining them (in a similar manner to petroleum refining) to produce a variety of fuels, chemicals and raw materials for manufacturing, is not new.
The most discussed product of biorefineries is, of course, biofuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol, but just as with petroleum refining, biorefining is capable of producing a host of other useful products. Biorefineries were once identified as the foundation of a new, bio-based global industrial platform that can help lower emissions while meeting the world’s demands for fuel, energy and chemicals. While the first generation of biorefineries have existed for some time now, industry watchers say we’re on the verge of seeing next-generation biorefinery plants and technologies. Read the rest of this entry »
“The Sustainability Impacts of Fuel: Understanding the Total Sustainability Impacts of Commercial Transportation Fuels,” the first report from the Future of Fuels group of the organization known as BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), zeroes in on a concern that is vital to industry: the life-cycle sustainability of road freight transportation fuels.
The report’s authors, Eric Olson and Ryan Schuchard, say that the growing needs of the world’s population result in “intense pressure to restart economic progress and raise global standards of living — which will mean an increase in our global fuel use.” At the same time, the world’s “reliance on current and emerging energy products implies trade-offs that are not always clearly visible or consciously determined.”
Through its Future of Fuels initiative, BSR expects to provide a research base that will help decision-makers in business and government navigate this dilemma. The “Sustainability Impacts” report pulls together various data sources to paint a picture of what is currently known about both the fuel market outlook and the sustainability impacts of road freight transportation fuels in North America. Read the rest of this entry »
The Adhesive and Sealant Council (ASC), a North American trade association, expressed its concern with the California Department of Toxic Substance Control’s (DTSC) proposed “Safer Consumer Products” regulation, part of a statewide effort to require manufacturing companies to perform exhaustive, costly analyses of hundreds and hundreds of chemicals they use. The ASC — which counts 119 adhesive and sealant manufacturers, raw material and equipment suppliers, distributors and industry consultants as members, “representing more than 75 percent of the U.S. industry” — last week issued a media statement warning that the legislation, if passed, “could lead companies to abandon California markets or relocate manufacturing facilities to other states.” Read the rest of this entry »
Not all products with environmentally friendly labels are as green as they seem, but the revised Green Guides, issued by the Federal Trade Commission, will steer advertisers in an honest direction with key rules to follow to reduce the risk of deceiving consumers.
As eco-conscious consumers turn to green products, companies are responding with a variety of products with eco-labels. Yet it’s often difficult for consumers to differentiate accurate advertising from deceptive claims made by product maker — known as greenwashing. Many consumers also do not have the resources or time to evaluate green claims. Read the rest of this entry »
First, a study, titled “Electric Drive by ’25: How California can Catalyze Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles by 2025,” sponsored by Bank of America, and co-authored by Ethan N. Elkind, a climate policy associate for UCLA School of Law’s Environmental Law Center and the University of California’s Berkeley School of Law, identified three problems that have slowed consumer adoption of EVs and offered three solutions. Read the rest of this entry »