February, 2017 – Volume 10, Issue 2
Toxic release totals continue to decline
Analysis of data from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) by the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection (DEP) shows a continued downward statewide trend in toxic pollutants entering Kentucky’s environment. With continued reduction in reported releases, the potential impact on communities that may be disproportionately impacted has also decreased.
The Kentucky DEP conducted an analysis of reporting data submitted by industries to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for calendar year 2015. Within Kentucky, there were a total of 421 facilities and 151 chemicals reported for the 2015 calendar year. It is notable that more than 92 percent of the TRI chemical waste generated during 2015 was recycled, treated or used for energy recovery, rather than released or disposed of in environmental media (air, water or land). The reported releases are typically authorized by permits with regulatory limits. These limits protect human health and the environment. The decrease in releases to the environment can be attributed to production efficiencies, regulatory changes to permitting limits and pollution prevention activities conducted by Kentucky’s facilities.
Toxic releases have been on a steady downward trend since 1988. The pattern is indicative of efforts made by facilities and regulators to protect the environment. According to the reported data:
- Total releases in eight out of the top 10 Kentucky counties with the highest toxic release amounts in 2014, decreased in the 2015 reporting year. On-site releases in eight of the top 10 Kentucky counties decreased from 2014 to 2015.
- On-site releases in Kentucky for calendar year 2015 were 54,406,982 pounds. Off-site releases totaled 7,938,362 pounds. The combined total of on-site and off-site releases and disposal were reported as 62,345,344 pounds, according to the 2015 data.
- In 2015, on-site releases decreased 7,177,201 pounds (11.7 percent) from 2014 reports, while off-site releases decreased 1,525,757 pounds (16.1 percent), and total reductions of 8,702,958 pounds were reported compared to the 2014 reporting year, which is a 12.2-percent decrease for total releases.
- Total releases or disposal in Kentucky decreased 9,748,437 pounds over the last two reporting cycles (2014 and 2015). Total releases since the 2011 reporting year have decreased 21,258,342, which is a 25.4-percent decrease from 2011 reports.
- On-site releases for the top 10 chemicals in 2015 decreased to land (-8.6 percent), air (-22.3 percent) and surface water (-9.7 percent) compared to the 2014 reporting year.
- Total releases for nine of the top 10 facilities in Kentucky decreased from 2014 to 2015. Those 10 facilities were also the top 10 facilities in 2015, and comprise 55 percent of releases from all Kentucky facilities that reported.
- In 2015, air emissions from Kentucky electrical utilities decreased from 2014 values. Reported air emissions in 2015 are the lowest in 18 years of electrical utility reporting under the Toxic Release Inventory.
- When compared to 2014 data, national trends showed a 21.3-percent decrease in on-site releases, an 8.3-percent increase in off-site releases and a 17.3- percent decrease in total releases.
Waste Management investing $30 million in renewable energy in Louisville
Waste Management will use the gas produced naturally during waste decomposition at the Outer Loop Recycling and Disposal Facility, 2673 Outer Loop, to fuel its vehicles and sell off the remainder.
“The energy recovered at the landfill will be used to power Waste Management’s compressed natural gas-powered collection trucks,” according to a statement from the company. “The facility, the first of its kind in the region, will provide enough energy to fuel 800 trucks — the equivalent of 12,000 homes — per day.”
Methane gas, carbon dioxide and other gases are natural byproducts of every landfill, and the gases are funneled through pipes and burned off to prevent a gas buildup. Waste Management will simply tap into the existing natural gas supply.
The company will build a facility on site that will separate the methane gas from the other gases. The methane will be piped into a gas line owned by Texas Gas, Andy Reynolds, the public sector representative for Waste Management in Louisville, told Insider Louisville.
More than 50 percent of the gas collected is methane gas, Reynolds said. A small amount of the methane will be used to fuel Waste Management’s 80 local trucks, and the rest will be sold off to Texas Gas for the going natural gas rate.
“The remaining 90 percent of the energy that is generated will go to whoever the purchasers are from Texas Gas,” he said, so in theory, it could be used to power homes locally.
The non-methane gases will still be burned off by a flare.
Only one other Waste Management facility — a small landfill in Milan, Ill. — uses the technology that the company plans to install at the Outer Loop Recycling and Disposal Facility, Reynolds said, adding that Louisville will act as a template for a planned rollout of the technology nationwide.
Waste Management chose Louisville because the company both owns the property and runs the facility at Outer Loop.
“It’s also working in connection with Mayor Fischer and his strategic goals making sure Louisville is on the cutting edge of green technology,” he said. IL has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment. In 2013, Fischer established the city’s first Office of Sustainability and released a sustainability plan to protect the environment.
Power from a partnership: UK and Weisenberger Mill
At first blush, most would not think that the Weisenberger Mill and the University of Kentucky have much in common.
Perhaps, that is what makes this unique partnership so, well, powerful.
These two Kentucky icons have been serving the people of the Commonwealth since 1865, but it was a recent collaboration that has brought these two institutions even closer together.
Weisenberger Mill is a small, family-owned business in Midway, Kentucky. Located on the South Elkhorn Creek, Weisenberger Mill manufactures flour and cornmeal to create a suite of about 60 different products. Six generations of Weisenbergers have operated the mill at its current location.
The reason August Weisenberger, a German immigrant, chose that location to start his milling operation was because of the Elkhorn. The creek has powered the mill’s twin turbine since the 1800s.
In the 1980s, Weisenberger Mill hired David Brown Kinloch, president of Shaker Landing Hydro Associates, to work on the turbines. It was Kinloch’s first hydroelectric installation in Kentucky, and his experience working with the Weisenbergers left a favorable impression.
Hydro technology continued to evolve over the years, and when Kinloch had a vision for a next-generation of power generation, he immediately thought of his first install.
Wind turbines use variable speed generators to maximize efficiency. Though the technology works remarkably well for wind energy, no one has adapted variable speed generation at a hydroelectric plant.
That was until Kinloch, Weisenberger Mill and the UK Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) decided to partner on this pioneering initiative.
“We received a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant to install a variable speed generator at Weisenbeger Mill,” Kinloch said. “This is a technology that was developed by the wind industry and most wind turbines use this same technology. But it’s never been tried by the hydro industry, and DOE was very interested in us trying it here, on a small demonstration scale.”
CAER assisted in writing the DOE grant for the project and CAER’s Jim Neathery analyzed data on the project to verify if the new generator was beneficial.
Kinloch noted that he hoped that the new generator would increase efficiency by 10 to 15 percent. Suffice to say, he and Neathery were blown away by the results.
Rubicon Global wins Circular Economy Award
Rubicon Global was honored with the Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Digital Disruptor at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. The prestigious award was presented as part of The Circulars, an awards program by the World Economic Forum’s Community of Young Global Leaders, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have made notable contributions to the circular economy.
The third annual Circulars awards ceremony showcased advances from the private sector, public sector and civil society that drive innovation and growth while reducing dependence on scarce natural resources. The Digital Disruptor Award in particular honors an organization or public-sector program that is disrupting business as usual by using digital technologies to enable the circular economy.
Rubicon Head of Sustainability David Rachelson received the award on behalf of the company and addressed attendees of the World Economic Forum.
“The circular economy is at the core of the Rubicon business model,” Rachelson said. “By keeping materials out of the landfill, we’re building a more sustainable supply chain, generating revenue for used materials and facilitating sustainable growth for both the private and public sector.”
Nate Morris, Rubicon founder, chairman and CEO, also was named a finalist for the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership for his individual contributions to the circular economy. Morris was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014.
Rubicon was the only company or organization that was named a finalist in two different categories. The company was honored alongside other world renowned leaders in the circular economy, including NIKE Inc and Patagonia for their leading work on material efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable innovation.
Rubicon Global is a cloud-based, full-service waste and recycling company focused on sustainability. The company works with its customers, including many Fortune 500 companies, small and medium businesses, and municipalities, to find new efficiencies and cost-savings in their waste streams and to develop new and innovative ways to reduce, re-use and recycle waste.
Rubicon is using technology and data to disrupt the global waste industry and the traditional model of waste collection, which has been focused around the landfill. The company has become the largest third-party vendor in the history of U.S. waste and recycling. Rubicon’s technology team is led by advisor and board member Oscar Salazar, co-founder of Uber, and Chief Technology Officer Phil Rodoni.
Rubicon was founded in Kentucky in 2008. It is headquartered in Atlanta and has offices in Lexington, New York and San Francisco. In 2016, the company nearly doubled in size to more than 300 employees and was named a Next Billion-Dollar Startup by Forbes and one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.
Sports facilities, water and energy opportunities
A new report released by the National Institute of Building Sciences and the Green Sports Alliance focuses on opportunities for sports facility managers to reduce water and energy use.
It might not seem like installing a low-flush toilet would have much impact on the daily water use of a family of four, but think what a difference it could make at one football stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. Consider the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, the location of the championship match-up between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons earlier this month. That stadium facility has a seating capacity of 71,795, not including the thousands of vendors, security personnel and half-time participants — not to mention the teams themselves. Now, think about the impact that low-flush toilet could have.
The report looks at ways sports venues throughout the U.S. can make an impact by reducing their energy and water use. The report, “Taking the Field: Advancing Energy and Water Efficiency in Sports Venues”, considers the potential water and energy reductions the U.S. sports sector could make, and highlights the financial savings some leagues and teams are already seeing from putting such efficiency initiatives into place.
“Nothing captures the attention of Americans quite like sports,” said National Institute of Building Sciences President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. “When stadiums and arenas — some of the largest buildings in the nation — set high-performance building goals, it is something everyone can cheer for. We thank representatives from across the sports industry for contributing to this research, and look forward to seeing sports venues take steps to improve their energy and water efficiency.”
More than 240 million fans visit these sports venues annually. Total square footage of these facilities easily reaches into the hundreds of millions. Sports teams and clubs employ nearly 60,000 people and generate $22.6 billion in annual revenue. The opportunity for these facility owners to improve the energy and water performance of their venues, reduce operating costs and engage their communities is enormous.
Ikea introduces product made from recycled PET
The multinational furniture and home goods retailer Ikea has introduced a line of kitchen cabinet fronts that are made from a combination of recycled polyethylene terepthalate (PET) plastic and reclaimed wood.
The product, called Kungsbacka, is the culmination of two years of research by the company to come up with a sustainable kitchen front.
Anna Granath, Ikea’s project leader for the team that developed Kungsbacka, says research resulted in the development of a new material – a plastic foil made from discarded PET bottles collected by Japanese municipalities.
“We found a way to transform used PET bottles into a foil that is laminated on the Kungsbacka kitchen fronts,” says Marco Bergamo, head of development at the Italian Ikea supplier, 3B. “The biggest challenge was to create a foil from recycled material that fulfills the same quality requirements as a foil made of virgin material. We worked hard not to compromise on neither quality nor price.”
Ikea says about 25 half-liter PET bottles are needed to cover the black surface of a 40×80-centimeter Kungsbacka kitchen front.
“We need to become better at using the planet’s resources in a smart way. Our ambition is to increase the share of recycled materials in our products. We are considering new ways to reuse materials, such as paper, fibre, foam and plastic, so that we can give them a new life in a new product,” says Granath.
See what’s new at ESRC
The Environmental Sustainability Resource Center (ESRC) is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx™), a national network of regional information centers. The objective of the ESRC is to provide technical environmental sustainability information and training to industrial service providers. The primary service area for the ESRC is EPA Region 3 & 4. Region 3 includes Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, D.C., Delaware and Maryland. Region 4 includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. ESRC resources and staff are available to users in industry, consulting and universities. Please visit the ESRC website or call toll free (855) 531-3772 for more information.
GreenBiz – Sustainability news and resources
GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business. Since 1991, GreenBiz has chronicled and been a catalyst for thought leadership in aligning environmental responsibility with profitable business practices.
Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.
Upcoming training, events and conferences
- Plastics Recycling 2017
Plastics Recycling 2017 is the focal point for the increasingly complex and international plastics recycling industry. The event, now in its 12th year, brings together plastics reclaimers, equipment manufacturers, brand owners, brokers, government officials and leading sustainability voices from around the globe to deepen connections and push the sector forward. Don’t miss out on the industry event of the year.
March 6-8 – New Orleans, Louisiana – View more information about this conference.
- 30th Southeast Recycling Conference & Trade Show
SERC is one of the key recycling industry networking events of the year with more than 500 professionals in attendance for 30 years. If you want to increase your networking and contacts in this business, you need to be at SERC.
March 12-15 – Destin, Florida – Conference, trade show and registration information are available online.
- Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Environmental Conference
The most comprehensive environmental conference in the state! Find out about the latest information on Kentucky and federal environmental policies and regulations, as well as information on new environmental compliance mandates. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will provide this and more at their annual Kentucky Environmental Conference. You will leave this conference with a detailed, up-to-the-minute review of major environmental regulatory issues that may affect your facility. Register today to gain insights that will help your company improve its compliance practices and bottom line.
March 28-29 – Lexington, Kentucky – Find out more and register for this conference.
Portfolio Manager Series
- 101 – March 28 at 1 p.m. EDT – Attendees will learn how to: navigate the new Portfolio Manager; add a property and enter details about it; enter energy and water consumption data; share properties; generate performance reports to assess progress; and respond to data requests.
- 201 – March 29 at 1 p.m. EDT – Learn more advanced functionalities such as: managing and tracking changes to your property uses over time; using spreadsheet templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; generating and using custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
- 301 – March 30 at 1 p.m. EDT – Learn about some advanced features, including: using spreadsheet upload templates to update property data; setting goals and targets to plan energy improvements for properties; creating custom reports; and using the Sustainable Buildings Checklist.
View recorded ENERGY STAR webinars at any time.
To view these and other sustainability-related events, please visit the KPPC Events Calendar.