August, 2018 – Volume 11, Issue 8
Pollution Prevention Week in September
Yum Brands restaurants saved 1.3 billion gallons of water last year
Starbucks to scrap plastic straws globally by 2020
Digital technology and sustainability: Positive mutual reinforcement
Smart packaging and sustainable packaging really can go hand-in-Hand
ESRC: Enhancing Business Operations through Sustainability – Webinar Training Series
GreenBiz: Six actions that businesses can take across the plastics value chain
KY EXCEL Community Environmental Outreach Field Trip
Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference
VERGE 18 conference – Where Technology Meets Sustainability
Top 10 most under-used ENERGY STAR resources
ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems
Saving Water in Restrooms with WaterSense
ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Webinars
Energy and Environment cabinet recognizes 42 water treatment plants with optimization awards
Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has recognized 42 surface water treatment plants in the Commonwealth for meeting the 2017 goals of Kentucky’s Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP).
AWOP is a multi-state initiative administered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which encourages drinking water systems to voluntarily achieve optimization goals that go beyond regulatory requirements. Kentucky is one of 26 participating states. All of Kentucky’s public water systems are encouraged to participate in AWOP in order to provide the highest quality water to residents.
AWOP provides tools and approaches for drinking water systems to meet water quality optimization goals and to provide an increased and sustainable level of public health protection to consumers. The program emphasizes the optimization of turbidity removal through the drinking water treatment process. Turbidity, or cloudiness, is a measurement of particles in water including soil, algae, bacteria, viruses and other substances. AWOP also focuses on improving the operation of existing facilities rather than implementing costly capital improvements.
“Together, these 42 drinking water treatment plants serve more than 1.1 million Kentuckians,” said Joe Uliasz, supervisor of the Division of Water’s Drinking Water Compliance and Technical Assistance Section. “These drinking water treatment plant operators deserve our recognition and appreciation for their daily efforts to exceed the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”
Two Kentucky water treatment plants received an AWOP Champion Award. This award takes into account the high level of optimization achieved, as well as the system’s overall compliance record for the previous three years.
Thirteen AWOP drinking water systems received special recognition, with a gold seal on their certificates, for achieving the AWOP goals 100 percent of the time in 2017.
Louisville, Kentucky: How a city used technology to fight air pollution
They’re now known for bourbon and clean air.
Louisville, Kentucky, is world-renowned for the best horse racing, bourbon whiskey, and baseball bats. Recently, however, they also became infamously known for their poor air quality. Pollution is only becoming a bigger threat to human health, and some cities are adapting better than others. Air Louisville, a community program that uses digital health technology to improve asthma, recently set out to learn just how toxic the city is for breathing disorders, and what, if anything, can be done to fix it.
“Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the worst places to live in the United States if you have a breathing disorder,” said Ted Smith, the city’s former chief innovation officer.
In 2015, Air Louisville discovered over 1,000 citizens suffering from either asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and enrolled them in their program. They were able to attach inobtrusive sensors (made by Propeller Health) to each of the subjects’ inhalers that, through an app on their smartphones, relay to Air Louisville exactly when and where the inhaler was used. This is relevant information to the company because someone suffering from this disease is more likely to use their inhaler when their symptoms flare up — which could be caused by an increased concentration in air pollution.
After collecting millions of data points, they were able to create a heat map displaying areas of concentrated pollution, which in turn allowed them to pinpoint the worst areas in the city. By targeting specific locations with poor air quality, they were able to initiate a massive, city-wide effort to change policy, in addition to creating public awareness surrounding the issue.
The city has since become more conscious of how it should write and apply transportation policy (such as rerouting trucks around these areas instead of through them), created new zoning laws to prevent future emissions, and planted more trees in these targeted locations.
After applying these methods, the average inhaler-user saw a staggering 82 percent reduction in asthma and COPD symptoms. For people who depend on these — sometimes very costly — remedies for their overall health and well-being, this development is huge.
With the success of the initiative, Louisville has taken itself out of the running as the most polluted city in the country while also working hard to share this technology with other cities to try to improve the lives of citizens from coast to coast.
Sunstrand hosts Senate Majority Leader to discuss American hemp industry
Sunstrand, the North American leader in sustainability and hemp processing, recently hosted a visit and plant tour with local and national leaders to discuss the future of hemp in the United States. Meeting attendees included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, as well as all community leaders, customers, farmers, and media. Following a closed-door discussion and a tour of Sunstrand’s Louisville, KY manufacturing facility, Senator McConnell set the stage, “This gives you a first-hand view of the potential that hemp has. I just had a meeting with farmers, processors, everybody involved in this industry, which we hope is going to get a whole lot bigger very soon.”
McConnell is currently championing the 2018 draft farm bill, officially known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which covers everything from farm subsidies and food stamps to trade and rural development policy. It also includes hemp legalization legislation. Separate draft bills have passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and they are currently in conference to reconcile to two versions into a final bill before heading to President Trump’s desk for approval.
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, Ryan Quarles, shared the bill’s importance for Kentucky. “Industrial hemp is an opportunity for Kentucky to bring back a crop that used to be a big part of our past and bring it into the 21st century. And no person has done more for bringing this crop back home to Kentucky than Senator McConnell.”
The bill is exciting news for Sunstrand, North America’s largest hemp processor. Sunstrand uses the entire stalk and manufactures materials to meet customer specifications in the automotive, textile, building material, cosmetics and animal care industries. Sunstrand CEO, Trey Riddle PHD, also praised the proposed legislation: “We here at Sunstrand are honored that the Senate Majority Leader chose our company to showcase some of the great things hemp can do for our country. Passage of hemp legislation in the farm bill will enable this industry to grow rapidly. I am thrilled to see such support from leaders like Senator McConnell.”
MVP2 Award applications due August 31st!
Don’t miss the opportunity to apply! The awards are designed to recognize outstanding and innovative P2 projects/programs.
The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable is accepting nominees for the 2018 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) Awards. Since 1995, The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) has recognized the very best in Pollution Prevention with its annual awards. The MVP2 awards are presented annually during National Pollution Prevention Week, which is September 17-23, 2018.
Awards are presented in seven categories, Project/Program, Best Multimedia, Champion, Ambassador, Volunteer, Educator and Student of the Year. The MVP2 Project/Program, P2 Champion, and Best P2 Multimedia are open to all levels of government, industry, small business, non-profit and academia. As in years past, awards are judged on the following five broad criteria: innovation, measurable results, transferability, commitment and optimization of available project resources.
Pollution Prevention Week in September
Pollution prevention (P2) means reducing or eliminating sources of pollution to prevent damage to the environment while also eliminating the need for costly controls and cleanup.
EPA works with federal, state and local governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and the public to prevent pollution through a variety of voluntary initiatives and partnerships. P2 practices include modifying industrial production processes; using less toxic substances in manufacturing processes and products; using conservation techniques; and reusing materials.
EPA urges you to renew your P2 efforts and continue to spread the word on ways to prevent pollution through innovation. Pollution Prevention is the key to saving resources and moving toward sustainability.
Yum Brands restaurants saved 1.3 billion gallons of water last year
Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, says its restaurants saved an estimated 1.3 billion gallons of water last year. According to the company’s 2017 Global Citizenship & Sustainability Report published today, this water efficiency was achieved through smart building practices.
The report says that the company implemented 40,000 energy and water-savings technologies in 2017. More than a third of their new restaurants currently meet Yum! Brands’ green building guidelines for water consumption.
“Good water stewardship matters to employees, customers, and shareholders, as underscored by the results of our materiality assessment,” the report says. “We have been addressing water use in our restaurants since 2005, when we set a goal to reduce water consumption in company-owned restaurants by 10% by 2015. Yum reached our goal in 2017 and avoided using roughly 2.2 billion gallons of water during that time period.”
Those savings come from these water conservation measures:
- Irrigation: Irrigation system improvements, such as sensors that prevent irrigation when it is raining, and the addition of local and drought-tolerant plant species, decrease our need for irrigation water.
- Equipment: From dishwashers in the kitchen to ice machines in the dining area, high-efficiency equipment helps the company’s restaurants save money and minimize water use.
- Restrooms: Low-flow fixtures like toilets and faucet taps are inexpensive upgrades that make it easy to use less. Another option is to add sensors or time-limited metering devices to hand wash sinks.
In a mini case study, the company says that irrigation can account for up to 45% of a Taco Bell restaurant’s water use. “After a conservation pilot program in 2012 successfully demonstrated a 40% reduction in irrigation water, Taco Bell overhauled the irrigation systems in over 900 of its company-owned restaurants and updated its specification for new construction to a new, less water-intensive standard,” the report noted.
Yum Brands’ current goal is to reduce average restaurant water consumption by an additional 10% by the end of 2025, with a focus on high water-stress areas.
In addition to water savings, Yum Brands reported keeping more than 750,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere in 2017 through energy conservation, food waste donation, and recycling efforts.
Starbucks to scrap plastic straws globally by 2020
The coffee-shop giant announced Monday that it will use recyclable strawless lids and an alternative-material straw option in its more than 28,000 stores around the world. The move will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year from Starbucks stores, the company said.
“For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee, served to our customers in more sustainable ways,” Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Starbucks, said in a statement.
The chain joins a growing number of companies, making similar pledges, including Alaska Airlines, hotel chains Hilton and AccorHotels, cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Cunard and food-service giant Bon Appétit Management, whose 1,000-plus locations in 33 states include universities and museums.
Last month, McDonald’s announced that it would start testing plastic-straw alternatives at certain U.S. locations later this year.
Americans use an estimated 500 million single-use straws daily, according to Eco-Cycle.
Starbucks’ newly designed strawless lid will be used for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages. The environmentally friendly lid is now available in more than 8,000 of its stores in the U.S. and Canada for select beverages, including Draft Nitro and Cold Foam. Cold beverages now account for more than 50% of Starbucks beverage mix in the U.S., up from 37% five years ago, the company said.
The coffee retailer will also begin offering straws made from alternative materials — including paper or compostable plastic — for Frappuccino beverages. These new straws will also be made available upon request to customers who prefer or need a straw, the company said.
Starting this fall Starbucks customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to receive the strawless lids, with phased rollouts in the U.S. and Canada coming in fiscal year 2019. A global rollout will follow, starting in Europe where the strawless lids will arrive in select stores in France, the Netherlands and the U.K.
Digital technology and sustainability: Positive mutual reinforcement
Most business leaders would like to run an environmentally sustainable company, one that does little harm to the natural world and that leaves its employees and customers healthier. Few companies have been able to put that ideal into practice because they haven’t had the data. But now they do.
Enevo, a Finnish company that makes devices for “smart” waste disposal, could not exist if it weren’t for the Internet of Things. Its devices feature embedded sensors and analytic software. They enable waste companies to plan pickups when waste bins are full, rather than at set time periods, making collection of waste more efficient and reducing costs.
In traditional industrial terms, digital technology and environmental sustainability seem mutually exclusive. The factors that propel them are unrelated. One is driven by sweeping technological change brought about by the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics, all promising to transform global manufacturing, industrial processes, and labor. Put simply, it’s about efficiencies.
The other is driven by a combination of climate and environmental degradation and geopolitical instability, all of which demand a new approach that prioritizes resource conservation and environmental governance — and in particular redoubled efforts to de-carbonize the atmosphere. Businesses increasingly recognize that it will be impossible to meet the world’s growing demand for products and services purely through a linear increase in production and consumption. People won’t be able to address the ecological and social challenges of the day without fundamental business model innovation. Moreover, unsustainable practices such as the release of toxic emissions can no longer be hidden.
But the two concepts, digital technology and environmental sustainability, are often mutually reinforcing. And we would go further: Without digital technology, it is hard for companies to ease their pollution footprint or manage waste. Without a full understanding of sustainability, the energy drawn by computers can be wasted.
Bringing digital prowess and sustainable practices together should be at the forefront of strategic thinking for any business — as a way to differentiate itself and gain long-term viability among customers, regulators, and the communities where businesses operate. In fact, it may even be essential.
Businesses with a sustainability strategy regard balanced value creation as the key imperative for the long-term viability of their business model and social license.
Smart packaging and sustainable packaging really can go hand-in-hand
As “smart packaging” technology evolves, it is important that brands focus not only on the functionality of the packaging but also on how consumers will view the packaging in terms of sustainability, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.
Packaging is critical for enhancing the functionality of products as well as winning over new consumers, according to GlobalData. Of late, both smart packaging and sustainable packaging trends have gathered pace owing in part to rising disposable income of consumers across the globe. Recent innovations are demonstrating that sustainable packaging can coexist and grow harmoniously alongside smart packaging – but only if brands recognize and acknowledge both trends, a new report from GlobalData suggests.What Is Smart Packaging?
With technology advances, new options in packaging are becoming available to companies. Some smart packaging, for example, can provide consumers with extra information, communicate with retailers and manufacturers, protect against theft, or track a product’s journey during transit. “In the future, these technologies will provide brand-name companies with a completely new way to interact with consumers,” according to an article from strategy and marketing consultants Simon Kucher & Partners. “Furthermore, manufactures will have greater access to end customers. Through smart packaging, communication will become more individualized and more personal.”
Already, brands have been “incorporating new technologies into packaging designs that can improve the user experience by, for example, sharing additional brand information, product information or by connecting with an online social media platform,” says Lia Neophytou, consumer markets analyst for GlobalData.
One such interactive packaging innovation? Last year, Frito Lays-owned Tostitos launched a limited-edition “Party Safe” bag with a sensor which could detect how much alcohol a user had consumed. The sensor would turn red and administer an Uber code for consumers who were over the limit.
According to the company’s global consumer survey in Q1 2017, half of consumers globally find the concept of interactive packaging like the Tostitos bag “exciting” or “nice to have,” while 8% even consider it to be “essential.”
New capabilities can also lead to promising new business models and monetization strategies, Simon Kucher & Partners says.
Things to Consider
However, embedding electronics into everyday packaging has recently raised serious questions about disposal, given the world’s increased commitment toward sustainability, GlobalData points out.
“There are also more simple steps that brands can take to ensure that their smart packaging designs do align with the sustainable packaging trend,” says Neophytou. “For example, communicating closely with recycling bodies during the developing stages can ensure from the outset that smart packaging is fit to be recycled.”
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 in EPA Regions 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. The ESRC is administered by the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC).
Enhancing Business Operations through Sustainability – ESRC Webinar Training Series
The Environmental Sustainability Resource Center (ESRC) delivered a training series of webinars intended to enhance business operations through applied sustainability strategies.
This four-part recorded webinar series provides insight on making the business case for environmental sustainability, identifying the building blocks of a systematic approach for success and provides examples and resources to help turn actions into outcomes.
Benefits of viewing the recorded webinars
– Identify low-cost/no-cost opportunities to stimulate business success through sustainability.
– Enhance environmental performance.
– Build an organizational culture that embraces and succeeds through sustainability.
– Observe real-world examples of implementation.
– Obtain tools and resources to assist sustainability efforts.
– Learn about technical assistance available.
Recordings for all four of webinars are now available with closed captioning and related 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.
Currently on the GreenBiz website by Joanna Lovatt and Eileen Gallagher:
6 actions that businesses can take across the plastics value chain
Over the last few decades, plastic has made life easier for many of us. It is durable and relatively inexpensive, and in many cases, plastic devices such as IV bags and syringes have saved lives. However, the plastic production rate has skyrocketed — half of the plastic ever made has been produced in the past 15 years, and globally, only 9 percent of all plastic has been recycled. About 150 million tons (PDF) of plastic is floating in our oceans, and it is accumulating at a staggering rate — 9 million tons per year.
Thus far, efforts to reduce waste have been flawed or insufficient. There are several obstacles to recycling plastics, including inadequate sorting processes, lack of recycling infrastructure and limited financing. Given these challenges, as well as the range of actors involved — from manufacturers and food and beverage companies to waste collectors, consumers and investors — the waste problem looks like a jigsaw puzzle. However, through combined efforts by all the stakeholders involved, it is one we can — and must — solve.
For the time being, one of the most important steps to addressing plastic waste is to prevent plastic from becoming waste in the first place by ensuring it is recycled.
Focusing on the marine litter problem is treating the symptom of plastic waste, not the cause. For the time being, one of the most important steps to addressing plastic waste is to prevent plastic from becoming waste in the first place by ensuring it is recycled. To increase recycling rates, a key mindset shift is required: understanding that plastic is a commodity.
Commodities exist within markets, and right now the plastics recycling market is functioning well below its potential. This is especially the case in the Asia-Pacific region. Lacking supranational waste management regulation such as the EU, APAC countries produce more than 60 percent (PDF) of all the plastic that enters the oceans. In addition to the lack of regulation, many markets have insufficient recycling capacities, a weak supply of recyclable plastics due to inconsistent or suboptimal design of plastic products, poor recycling practices and low demand for recyclable plastics resulting from the high cost of recycling versus the often lower cost of virgin (unused) plastic.
For many stakeholders, recycling plastic just isn’t worth it. It’s time we change that mindset and improve the system.
While business is just one piece of a puzzle that involves civil society, academia and government regulation, businesses both small and large have an immediate opportunity to drive action. There are six feasible and realistic actions that businesses across the plastics value chain, and particularly in Asia Pacific, can take to help prevent plastic from becoming waste:
1. Generate baseline data on plastic use and recycling and recovery rates.
2. Innovate with alternative or zero packaging, new types of distribution and consumer incentive schemes.
3. Consider setting voluntary standards on plastic design, which can increase the supply and commodity value of recyclable plastic material.
4. Establish cross-/inter-industry and public-private partnerships.
5. Inspire governments, investors and SMEs to invest in waste reduction solutions through commitments on plastic use.
6. Create corporate green loans, bonds and other financing mechanisms to stimulate the recycling industry.
Keeping plastic out of landfill, the oceans and the riverways is undoubtedly a complex task, with many entrance points, perspectives, and approaches. But now, with the global, political momentum on plastic waste, is the time for all actors to take action.
Find the latest articles, videos and resources on the GreenBiz website.
Upcoming Training, Events and Conferences
- KY EXCEL Community Environmental Outreach Field Trip
KY EXCEL and Catlettsburg Refinery, LLC invite you to participate in an interactive day of “Community Environmental Outreach” experience and idea sharing at Savage Branch Wildlife Reserve. This is a great learning and networking opportunity to start engaging in community environmental outreach.
September 14 – Savage Branch Wildlife Refuge, Cattlesburg, KY
Register for this outreach event.
- Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference
The Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference (BECC) is the premier international conference focused on understanding human behavior and decision making and using that knowledge to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future. Currently in its 12th year, BECC is associated with a growing set of allied conferences in Europe and Asia.
October 7 through 10 – Washington, D.C.
Find out more and register for this conference.
- VERGE 18 conference – Where Technology Meets Sustainability
The VERGE 18 conference and expo is the platform for accelerating a clean economy. The event convenes a high-powered audience of more than 2,500 leaders — from companies and utilities, city and regional governments, policymakers, NGOs, solution providers and startups — to explore scalable solutions at the intersection of technology and sustainability within three dynamic and influential markets: clean energy, transportation and mobility and the circular economy.
October 16 through 18 – Oakland, CA
Find out more and register for this conference and expo.
EPA ENERGY STAR webinars:
- Top 10 most under-used ENERGY STAR resources
EPA provides more than 500 items in the ENERGY STAR tools and resources library based on the proven energy management principles of successful ENERGY STAR partners. Find out what resources and recognition opportunities you’ve been missing during this session.
August 16 at 2 p.m. EDT
- ENERGY STAR and Green Building Rating Systems
During this session, attendees will learn how to use EPA tools and resources to help meet requirements for green building rating systems such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the Green Globes system, IREM Certified Sustainable Properties, and BOMA BEST.
August 21 at 1 p.m. EDT
- Saving Water in Restrooms with WaterSense
Water use in restrooms and laundries can account for nearly 40 percent of water use within a facility. Join us to learn about water-efficient operation and maintenance practices and retrofit and replacements options that can help reduce water and energy use in public and private bathrooms and commercial laundries. Find out how using WaterSense labeled and ENERGY STAR qualified products in these areas can significantly reduce your facility operating costs.
September 19 at 1 p.m. EDT
Portfolio Manager Series
- 101 – September 4 at 1 p.m. EDT – Attendees will learn how to: navigate the 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 – September 11 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 – August 30 & September 13 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.