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ATR Attempting Guinness Record for E-Waste

Advanced Technology Recycling (ATR) will be attempting to break a new world record in celebration of Earth Day 2015.

“One Million Pound Challenge” will focus on keeping over one million pounds of electronics out of landfills. ATR will be partnering with businesses and municipalities to host Electronic Recycling Drives for residents to bring out their old electronics for recycling. The attempt will kick off on Saturday April 18 and run till Saturday April 25 at 6:00pm.  The One Million Pound Challenge will take place across ATR’s six facilities: Pontiac & Peoria IL, Grand Rapids, San Antonio, Birmingham, AL, and Buffalo.

ATR will be using the Guinness World Records to officiate the attempt to break the world record.  The current record for “most consumer electronics recycled in one week at multiple locations is 474,227 kg (1045,491 lb 10.505 oz) and was achieved by TechCollect / ANZRP Ltd (Australia) at five locations in Australia, on 6 May 2013” states Amanda Mochan from the Guinness World Record (GWR) team in New York. On April 25 at 6:00 pm there will be a ruling from an official Guinness World Records judge located at the company’s corporate headquarters in Pontiac, IL.

“Consumer Electronics or e-Waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world and technology hungry countries like the US are among the largest contributors” said Brodie Ehresman, National Business Development Manager for ATR.  Earth Day is very important, because it offers the chance for all people from different walks of life to help keep the Earth Beautiful.

For more information on how you can participate or bring electronics to an event please contact us at clientsales@atrecycle.com (616)452-7779.

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Governor Snyder Unveils Energy Plan, Calls for 30-40% Renewable Energy + Efficiency by 2025

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This blog post is courtesy of WMSBF member Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

Governor Snyder on Friday unveiled his long-awaited energy plan, calling for energy efficiency plus renewable energy to meet up to 40% or more of the state’s energy needs by 2015. The Energy Message follows a flurry of state energy policy activity, including House Energy Policy Chair Aric Nesbitt’s introduction of an eight-bill energy plan that would eliminate the state’s successful Energy Optimization program while moving to a new integrated resource planning process, a bill from Representative Ray Franz that would repeal the Renewable Energy Standard that has spurred $3 billion in economic activity since 2008, the release of a discussion framework by Senate Energy and Technology Chair Mike Nofs that would replace the current efficiency and renewable standards with a new Clean Energy Standard, and a proposal from legislative Democrats to extend and expand both the renewable energy standard and energy optimization standard.

 

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Call for Board Member Candidates

The time to elect new directors for our board is upon us. Candidates should be willing and able to lend their vision and leadership to enhancing the direction of the forum over the next two years. A summary of the responsibilities of board membership here and any further detail will be available upon request.  There are four open spots.

Once nominations are received and reviewed by the nominating committee, a slate of candidates will be presented for a vote of the full membership in April. The results will be announced the following month with newly elected directors beginning their terms in June.

WMSBF has grown significantly in the last year, not only with membership but in the scope and diversification of projects and partnerships. The continued leadership of its members and willingness to challenge one another drives the success of our strategic plan and allows growth to continue.

You can apply by completing the Board Application Form here.  Deadline for applications April 2.

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Energy Efficient Buildings in 2015

Check out this blog post from WMSBF member The Energy Alliance Group of Michigan.

Four factors are now perfectly aligned to create significant energy-saving opportunities for commercial and industrial property owners in 2015. They are (1) The sheer number of buildings built prior to 1999 that, on average, consume 67% more energy than those of newer construction.(2) Removal of the greatest barrier to energy efficiency projects – the initial upfront capital and development costs. (3) The meteoric rise of long-term funding available for energy efficiency projects. (4) The decreasing cost of a growing number of technology choices that foster energy savings.

Keep reading here

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Organicycle Offering Neighborhood Yard Waste Program

Grand Rapids’ local provider of curbside composting service, Organicycle, has teamed up with local neighborhoods and businesses to provide reduced-cost yard waste services for Grand Rapids residents. The 2014 Neighborhood Lawn & Leaf Program serves as both a benefit for area neighborhoods as well as a cost-savings for residents.

The bags — made of compostable material — are more durable than traditional paper yard waste bags, and at 33 gallons, are bigger and less expensive than those used in any other program offered in the city. Organicycle’s bags are sold in packs of 10 for $20 and include free pick-up to Grand Rapids residents.

Five percent of bag sales go back to participating neighborhoods including Eastown Community Association (ECA), Alger Heights Neighborhood Association (AHNA) and Ridgemoor Neighborhood (RN). Bag sales are driven through partnering businesses including Alger Hardware & Featz Hot Dogs (inside Breton Village Mall).

Program participants must live in the City of Grand Rapids and only requires the purchase of Organicycle bags and online registration (www.organicycle.org/yardwaste).

“This is a wonderful community program that collectively benefits Grand Rapids residents, their neighborhood
and a local business,” explains Justin Swan, Director of Sales & Development for Organicycle. “When Organicycle met with a few neighborhood organizations this Spring, we each saw an opportunity to provide a valuable service at a cost savings to residents while raising funds for the neighborhood association.”

Organicycle anticipates a healthy increase of participants compared to the Spring program, and is prepared for a
much larger participation compared to last Fall’s pilot program.

“Our 2013 pilot included nearly 100 new residential stops on our curbside composting route, and generated
several hundred dollars for local neighborhoods,” said Swan. “This year, our goal is raise over a thousand dollars
for the neighborhoods, draw awareness to our award-winning curbside composting program, and drive traffic to
local small businesses that are eager to give back to their community.”

The 2014 Neighborhood Lawn & Leaf Program will run through December 5, with weekly collection, in Grand
Rapids only. Organicycle bags can be purchased at Alger Hardware, Eastown Community Association and Featz
Hot Dogs in Breton Village Mall.

In September, Organicycle was awarded “Sustainable Business of the Year” by West Michigan Sustainable
Business Forum, and has twice been named to the “Best & Brightest Sustainable Businesses” list (2013, 2014).

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Hall of Fame Nominees: Deb Steketee

For Deb Steketee, Sustainable Business professor at Aquinas College, businesses are central to creating change in our society.  “They are the ones who are harvesting the resources,” she said.  “They are the ones that can truly make the difference.”   As one of the driving forces behind Aquinas College’s Sustainable Business Program, Steketee has incorporated this idea into teaching a new generation of sustainability professionals that is influencing business in West Michigan and beyond.

Steketee’s experience in promoting environmental concerns in West Michigan reaches back to her work  with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and then  the Center for Environmental Study at GRCC, where she served as vice president.     While working with the Center for Environmental Study,  Steketee  began to see increased collaboration between business and environmentalists —a theme that would continue in her work in decades to come.   “That really set me thinking about who has the power to effect change in our society.  It really is business.  They are the ones who are harvesting the resources, they are the ones who can really make a difference through their influence in United States culture.”

At Aquinas College since 2005 as a professor and director of the Center for Sustainability, Steketee has helped Aquinas College to spearhead sustainability programming both on and off campus.   Through her work, she further developed the community relationships  with the Sustainable Business degree program at Aquinas in an effort to provide new opportunities for students and strengthen the shared learning experience of Aquinas’ sustainability mission.   She credits generous support from many early donors, including the Steelcase Foundation and Wege Foundation,  as well as the unique mindset of Aquinas College administrators and West Michigan residents for the success of the program.

“At Aquinas, the  idea is that business does not stand alone isThe notion that business is an entity that serves society has been really important to our program,” she said.   “The concept of the sustainability professional was just emerging at that time so in many ways, we were able to catch that wave and move forward with it.”   The Sustainable Business Program was the first of its type and scope at the undergraduate level, and has drawn students from across the United States to West Michigan.

As Director for the Center of Sustainability at Aquinas College, Steketee also oversaw the development of the school’s internal sustainability efforts, as well.  Aquinas’ recent accomplishments include the deployment of a zero-waste program campus-wide and LEED-certified buildings on campus, including the Grace Hauenstein library.

For Steketee, the West Michigan community’s ability to work together to find solutions is one of the reasons that organizations like the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum and the Center for Sustainability have seen success in recent years. “That ability to have a collective impact is something that this community does very well—there’s a collaborative spirit and a learning mentality,”  she said.  “The vision that we have had in our community and the vision that  many individuals have exemplified really provide us with an optimistic future.”

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Hall of Fame Nominees: Renae Hesselink

 

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Renae Hesselink, LEED AP and vice president of Sustainability at Nichols Paper and Supply, has been involved in sustainability efforts for the past 18 years, since the beginning of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. “[Nichols was] encouraged to join the forum through our relationships with customers, mostly in the office furniture industry,” she said. “They had reached out to us and wanted to bring their supply chain along that journey, so we jumped on board right away.”

Since then, Hesselink, a West Michigan native, has become engaged in many sustainability efforts in the region, ranging from her day-to-day work in her role at Nichols, to her involvement on the board of the U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan chapter. Hesselink has also presented on progress in sustainability and green buildings at many venues, including Grand Valley State University and Cornerstone University. Currently, Hesselink serves as chair of the Green School Committee for US GBC WM—an initiative that aims to promote a healthier, more functional environments for kids.

“The program focuses on developing healthier environments indoors, as well as creating schools as better places for communities to gather,” she said. “Right now, many of our schools shut down at the end of the school day and sit idle until the next morning.”

As part of the Green School program, Hesselink recently helped to set up the Green School Fellow program with the Grand Rapids Public Schools—a 3 year position which will not only assist with promoting green practices in the school district, but also help assist with developing curricula for students as well.

Currently, Hesselink is also working with the US GBC to promote the Battle of the Buildings program through her chapter—a year-long energy tracking and conservation competition among the region’s LEED-certified buildings. “There are 67 buildings in the competition this year,” she said. “The EPA has a similar program, and the first year that they ran it they had nowhere near that many participants, so we are pretty excited.”

For Hesselink, work in the sustainability field and progress in social and environmental conservation is about constant change and adaptation, as well as openness about business and manufacturing practices. Although she has seen positive changes in sustainable practices and an increased demand for green cleaning products in her industry, there is still work to be done.

“ I have seen in our industry as well as the green building movement and food movement, the unwillingness still to be transparent about labeling, ingredients, and processes. I believe this will be required more over the years especially as purchasers and end users become even more educated and intelligent. We have seen that happen a lot already and will continue.  End users will become more demanding of this.”

Standards for products and processes will continue to evolve,” she continued. “We still don’t see many standards for products on the retail shelf. There are safety standards, but not environmental.

“It’s a journey—we’re not all there yet,” she said. “We need to continue down that path.”

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MiBiz: Commercial Waste Volumes Add Weight to Region’s Economic Recovery

MiBiz talked to several members of the WMSBF Waste Task Force this week in a story detailing how local waste volumes are a sign of economic recovery.  

The increasing waste volumes at Kent County landfills serve as one measure of an improving local economy, said Doug Wood, director of the Kent County Department of Public Works (DPW). “In 2011, volumes really started to turn around, and every year after that waste goes up more,” Wood said. “If you take into consideration waste generation and recycling, I think we can definitely see growth in the economy.” 

An MiBiz analysis shows that local waste volumes over about the last decade and a half generally track with other traditional economic indicators, such as commercial building permits and jobs numbers.

The reason behind that correlation is quite simple, said Paul Isely, chair of the economics department at the Grand Valley State University Seidman College of Business in Grand Rapids. Long-term trend data show that economic growth leads to the generation of more commercial waste, he said.

“(Waste volumes) are not the best forecaster, but the data adds to many other pieces that are saying that things are good and getting better,” Isely said. “The indicator is useful in that it adds weight to that story.”

Tracking commercial waste volumes provides economists with a so-called “coincidence indicator” that shows where the economy is today but does not necessarily help them predict where it will be six months or a year from now, he said.

Read the full story here. 

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Free July webinar on hazards of antibacterial cleaning products

Originally posted on Our Kitchen Table:

Hosted by the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Network Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse
“GreenScreen® Assessments of Antimicrobials Triclosan and Triclocarban,” 3 p.m. TUESDAY, JULY 15, 2014

Presented by Beverly Thorpe, Consulting Co-Director and Co-founder Clean Production Action and Fe De Leon, Great Lakes Toxics Policy Expert and Researcher Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)

Beverly Thorpe

Triclosan and Triclocarban are widely used as antibacterial/antimicrobial agents in many products including cosmetics, personal care consumer products, textiles and food contact materials. GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals, a recognized tool for comparative chemical hazard assessment, was used to assess the environmental and human health profile of both of these chemicals.
GreenScreen® classifies Triclosan as a GreenScreen® Benchmark 1 (Avoid – Chemical of High Concern) and Triclocarban as a GreenScreen® Benchmark 2 (Use –  but Search for Safer Substitutes).  These results will add new support for the growing movement to restrict Triclosan as well as demonstrate the value of comprehensive chemical hazard screening for…

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Environmental Leader Insider Knowledge Report Needs Your Story

Are you interested in sharing your organization’s sustainability successes with a wider audience?

Environmental Leader, an online sustainable business-focused magazine, is currently collecting results of sustainability initiatives, environmental and energy management lessons, and other insightful advice that businesses have gathered in the past year for their annual 2014 Insider Knowledge report.

Stories that share metrics, before-and-after measurements, and ROI information are preferred. Suggested subjects include (from the Environmental Leader website):

  •  A test or implementation that worked better (or worse) than anticipated.
  • Lessons learned about specific tactics, such as onsite generation, building retrofits, sustainable supply chain initiatives, emission prevention, water conservation, etc.
  • Workplace stories – such as hiring, budgeting, green team activities, auditing & reporting, office politics, etc.

The report will be indexed by the author’s name and company. Anonymous submissions are also being accepted. Entries are limited to 750 words.

The Insider Knowledge Report will be distributed through various media outlets and will be available on the Environmental Leader website throughout 2014. Deadline for submissions is March 7.

For more information, or to submit a story, visit the Insider Knowledge Report website, here.