Industry recycling promotion: surprising kudos

We are surprised that GallonDaily is reporting on this event but industry promotion of recycling is something of which we see far too little and would like to see so much more.

A Maryland based company called Honest Tea, which markets bottled tea and other beverages, is promoting recycling through placement of a 30 foot recycling container in Times Square, New York, on 30th April.  The idea is that the denizens of New York City will toss more than 45,000 plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers into the recycling container in ten hours. Points will be awarded for each bottle recycled that can be redeemed at the onsite TRASHed Recycling Store for cold bottles of Honest Tea, t-shirts and reusable bags, jeans, video games, and tickets to sporting events, concerts and Broadway shows. The plastic bottles collected will be recycled into essential gardening supplies including shovels, watering cans and plastic lumber, which will be used to build and cultivate an urban garden for PS 102, an elementary school in Harlem.

Honest Tea co-founder and TeaEO Seth Goldman is quoted in the press release as saying that “National recycling rates are nowhere near where they need to be.” “Honest Tea is committed to finding ways to help Americans recycle more. We’ve helped install recycling bins in our hometown of Bethesda, MD and now it’s time to expand our efforts.”

GallonDaily commends the effort. This is what we need to see: companies getting behind recycling and making it easy and fun for consumers to recycle end-of-life packaging.

The interesting part of this story is that Honest Tea is an independent business unit of The Coca-Cola Company. Imagine what we could do if Coca-Cola extended similar recycling efforts across all its brands.

You can read more about Honest Tea’s The Great Recycle at http://www.thegreatrecycle.com/ after April 16th or at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/4/prweb9385817.htm today.

Nova Scotia Municipalities to help finance green energy

The Province of Nova Scotia has introduced legislation permitting municipalities in the province to finance and install “energy efficient equipment”, which includes but is not limited to solar panels, on private property with the consent of the owner. This is expanding a power already in place in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The initiative is expected to significantly expand the use of energy efficiency equipment and solar panels throughout the province.

The announcement is at http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20120402008 and progress on the Bill, including wording of the Bill, can be found at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/bills/municipal_government_act_-_bill_5

California finds mislabelling on ‘safer’ nail care products

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control has tested a sample of nail care products that are sold in the State and that claim to be toxic free and has found that most contain toxic substances.

The Department looked specifically for dibutyl phthalate (DBP) , toluene, and formaldehyde. DBP and toluene are considered to be developmental toxins. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Twenty five products claiming to be free of one or more of these toxic substances were analyzed: the Department reports that “most of the claims cannot be substantiated”. Some of the nail care products claiming to be free of the ‘toxic trio’ of substances contained high levels of at least one of them.

Toxic substances in nail care products are a particular concern because they are widely used in salons where workers may be exposed to much higher concentrations than the home user. Interestingly, the California Department also reports that some of the products also contain other lesser known ingredients that may be as toxic or more toxic than the ‘toxic trio’.

The products tested are branded by companies with addresses in California, Texas, Ohio, and New York. To GallonDaily’s knowledge, none are distributed in Canada but we have to admit that our knowledge of nail care products is somewhat limited: no one in this organization uses them, toxic-free or otherwise.

It is not reasonable to expect that end users will conduct their own toxicity tests on such things as nail care products. Results such as those published today bring discredit to an entire industry. Until either government or the industry itself starts policing the scammers who lie about the safety of their products, GallonDaily can only suggest that end users trust such claims only when they have been verified by an independent and reputable third party.

The full California report, along with names of products and detailed test results (in the Appendices) can be found at http://www.dtsc.ca.gov/PollutionPrevention/SaferNailProducts.cfm

Americans heavily split on environment and energy

The results of a Gallup poll released yesterday show that Americans are quite strongly divided on energy and environment issues. However close to 50% of Republicans and Republican leaning voters still support some key environment proposals, while the same proposals are supported by close to 80% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters. Key environment proposals with this type of response include tightening emission regulations on industry, spending more money on solar and wind power, spending government money on alternate fuels for vehicles, controlling carbon dioxide emissions, and setting higher emission standards for automobiles.

Views are reversed (84% R, 49% D) when it comes to opening up federal lands for oil exploration.  A majority of Republicans but not Democrats support increasing the use of nuclear power.

More detailed results and analysis are provided by Gallup at http://www.gallup.com/poll/153803/Americans-Endorse-Various-Energy-Environment-Proposals.aspx

 

Fire retardants may increase risk of harm from fire

New research presented at an American Chemical Society meeting indicates that some fire retardants, designed to reduce the flammability of materials, may lead to emissions of highly toxic gases when they are heated to high temperatures, thereby increasing the risk of death for people caught in close proximity to the fire. The research focused on halogen-based substances containing bromine, one of the most commonly used families of flame retardants.

The ACS states that almost 10,000 deaths from fires occur in industrialized countries worldwide each year, including about 3,500 in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, inhalation of toxic gases released by burning materials –– not burns –– causes the most deaths and most of the serious injuries.

This research may lead eventually to a re-evaluation of the role of bromine-based fire retardants that are widely used in consumer products and building materials. Fire retardants are difficult to remove from materials so designers may wish to consider using alternative fire retardants in advance of any future change to regulations.

The ACS statement and abstracts of relevant articles are available at http://web.1.c2.audiovideoweb.com/1c2web3536/SAN_DIEGO/Flame_Retardants_in_Fires.htm

Mapping Global Warming over time

One of the more fascinating short videos that has recently crossed GallonDaily’s desk is a NASA-prepared animation of global temperature data from 1880 to 2011.

Take 26 seconds, plus the time necessary to boot your computer, to view this very interesting video this coming weekend. GallonDaily is sure that the vast majority of readers will be very impressed.

You can reach the video at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2011-temps.html

Alberta: a harbinger for federal policy?

With polls suggesting that the next government in the province of Alberta, to be elected on April 23, may well be  Wildrose Party, and with many federal Conservative MPs supporting the further right Wildrose party in the election, GallonDaily thought it useful to review how Wildrose policies might permeate Ottawa.

The following are some highlights of Wildrose environmental policy in this Alberta election, drawn from the Leader’s environmental policy announcement:

  • the goals of protecting our natural environment and ensuring economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive.
  • Alberta’s oilsands have been unfairly portrayed both here and around the world.
  • it is imperative that economic growth never impinge on Albertans’ natural right to breathe clean air.
  • greenhouse gases are just one of many pollutants that threaten our air quality.
  • Greenhouse gases have become the lightning rod of the climate change debate, which has led to a host of politically motivated CO2 policies that have done little in the way of actual reduction.
  • We would implement a natural gas strategy focused on shifting energy output away from high-carbon fuels like coal onto natural gas and other cleaner burning alternatives. It’s what I [Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith] like to call a Triple Win. It would support our local industry, it would reduce emissions, and with natural gas prices so low, it would save Albertans a little bit of money too.
  • The oilsands are often mistaken for Alberta’s most precious natural resource. It’s actually water.  In southern Alberta, there are serious water access issues. In the north, the issue is water quality.
  • We would strictly enforce proper sewage treatment practices and existing regulations on effluent-producing industries.
  • We would revisit the use of dams and reservoirs in order to improve fresh water storage, reform our water licensing system to ensure maximum effectiveness, and promote water conservation by eliminating burdensome regulations that discourage new technologies
  • technological advancements will be instrumental in eventually eliminating tailings ponds.
  • Every new project is going to disturb the natural environment. The key is beginning each project with a clear strategy of how to return the land to its natural state as quickly as possible.
  • a Wildrose Government would implement a one-window policy for quick regulatory approvals. Let’s get . . . projects approved and stop delaying them so industry can hit the ground running and get to the recovery phase a lot faster.
  • We would also open up the lines of communication between public landowners and government by establishing an Environmental Ombudsman.
  • A Wildrose Government would make sure landowners are heard, their wishes respected and their lands returned to them in the same condition and value as they were prior to development.

The Wildrose environmental policy election platform can be found at http://www.wildrose.ca/policy/environment/

BPA not unsafe but not safe: US FDA

Last week the US Food and Drug Administration issued the following comment as part of its response to an environmental group petition on bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact applications:

At this interim stage, FDA shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. FDA also recognizes substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of these studies and their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure.

Apart from an outright ban, GallonDaily cannot imagine anything more damaging to the reputation of BPA in food contact applications than this statement. Short of a sudden, and frankly unlikely, finding of total safety of BPA, this substance is now toast in the minds of environmentally concerned consumers with respect to its use in food contact applications.

GallonDaily recommends that all brandowners ensure that their packaging materials are BPA free as quickly as achievable in current market conditions.

The updated FDA position statement can be found at http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm064437.htm

GallonDaily celebrates its first birthday

This week GallonDaily is celebrating its first birthday, having provided 229 articles over the last 12 months.

GallonDaily was launched to serve as a supplement to our Gallon Environment Letter, a monthly electronic publication with themes and articles of interest to the environment and business community in Canada. Both Gallon Environment Letter, now in its 16th year of publication, and GallonDaily have become popular with many environmentally interested individuals outside of the business community and well beyond Canada’s borders.

GallonDaily is an environmental newsletter with a difference. We publish one article per day on weekdays only. The objective is to give people working in environmental positions in business an idea of what is going on in business and the environment around the world. We know that people have little time to spare, so articles are kept short with a link to original source materials. By monitoring GallonDaily you will have quick and easy to read exposure to policy and new initiatives in the environment and business community and perhaps some ideas to take to your company’s decision makers or to government regulators. Like Gallon Environment Letter we provide not only the day’s top environment news story but also some interpretation of what it may mean for business in the future. Also like Gallon Environment Letter, we do not generally repeat those stories that you will see in your daily newspapers. We provide the broadly-based environment business coverage that is not in the popular press.

There have been more than 5,000 visits to GallonDaily in our first year. We are looking forward to hitting 10,000 in our second year and promise to continue to bring leading edge environment and business stories to our readers in the months ahead.

To subscribe to the monthly Gallon Environment Letter visit http://www.cialgroup.com/gallonletter.html