Survey Explores States' Green Purchasing
The Resource Conservation Alliance (RCA) and the Govern-ment Purchasing
Project (GPP) will survey initiatives that state governments are taking
to buy forest-friendly products.
Government purchasing accounts for nearly 20 percent of the
U.S. Gross Domestic Product, says Terra Schmookler, outreach
director for GPP. This tremendous purchasing power can be leveraged
to stimulate the market for products such as recycled paper, reduce
demand for timber and, consequently, help to conserve forests.
When officials spend taxpayer money to buy paper, furniture
or thousands of other products, they need not passively accept the
choices that industry offers. Instead, they can encourage industry
to produce more imaginatively, said Ralph Nader, founder of
GPP. Government buyers need to consider the long-term economic,
environmental and societal costs associated with products and services.
Nearly 100 procurement officials in all 50 states will be asked to
identify any state policies and practices that call for the procurement
of environmentally preferable wood products or wood alternatives in
five product categories: paper, packaging, furniture, pallets and
green building. The results will be published in a report
that will be released to the public and sent to state governments.
NRDC Says Senate Energy Bill Promotes True Energy Security
The Senate energy bill introduced by Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) would dramatically improve Americas national
energy security, expand the market for cleaner energy technologies
and reduce pollution generated by traditional energy sources, according
to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The Energy Policy Act (S. 517) would:
improve automobile fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon
provide significant incentives for consumers to purchase advanced
gasoline-electric hybrid and fuel cell-powered vehicles;
offer incentives for power companies to increase use of energy
produced from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar, and for
builders to improve the energy efficiency of homes and offices; and
expand the use of renewable energy sources by requiring retail
electricity suppliers to purchase 10 percent of their electricity
from renewable energy sources by 2020.
Just as important is what the legislation does not includeopening
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. According
to government figures, refuge oil would increase world reserves by
less than three-tenths of one percentnot enough to make a significant
dent in U.S. imports. Overall, the United States holds only three
percent of known world oil reservesand consumes 25 percent of
the worlds produced oil. Half of its current imports come from
the Middle East and other volatile regions.
The Daschle-Bingaman energy bill stands in stark contrast to the House
energy package (H.R. 4), which favors the energy policies of the past,
says NRDC. The House bill would provide more than $34 billion in new
subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear industries, increase dependence
on foreign oil by failing to increase fuel economy standards and encourage
oil development in the Arctic Refuge and other wild and special western
FTC Designates New Fiber
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a designation for
Cargill Dow LLCs NatureWorks fibers. The designation classifies
PLA as a new generic fiber, while the trade name will remain NatureWorks.
To receive new generic classification Cargill Dow had to show: properties
and chemical composition that is radically different from other fibers;
what commercial use is foreseen; and that the new generic is of importance
to the public. PLA now joins other classifications including cotton,
wool, silk, nylon and polyesters as a recognized fiber category.
NatureWorks is distinguished as the first generic fiber of the new
century to earn FTC approval and gain acceptance by the commission.
For a fiber to be classified as PLA it must be a synthetic fiber manufactured
from polylactic acid or poly lactate derived from naturally occurring
sugars, such as those in corn or sugar beets.
Cargill Dow recently completed construction of the companys
first world-scale PLA manufacturing facility in Blair, NE. At capacity,
the manufacturing plant will produce up to 300 million pounds (140,000
metric tons) of PLA per year.
Senate Passes Clean Energy Development Section
The 2002 Federal Farm Bill passed by the Senate in February contains
a clean energy development section intended to create a new clean
energy income stream for farmers and ranchers and enhance rural economic
development. The program includes grants and loans totaling about
$570 million over five years.
The legislation includes several related new programs providing financial
incentives for farmers and ranchers to develop renewable wind power
and biomass energy cash crops on their lands. These incentives
can promote rural economic development opportunities, enhance national
energy security and improve environmental quality by avoiding pollution
from conventional power plants. The legislation also establishes a
set of complementary programs to encourage the use and production
of bio-fuels and biomass energy. It also provides for energy efficiency
audits and financial support for the installation of new, more efficient
technologies in agricultural operations.
The 2002 Federal Farm Bill will be considered in a conference committee
where it will need to be reconciled with the House of Representatives
different version. The conference committee is expected to act in
the next two months.
Green Office Buying Guide
The City of Portland, OR, now offers a Green Office Buying Guide,
a 40-page booklet designed to help local business owners and office
managers cut their costs and reduce their impact on the environment
at the same time.
The booklet was created by the Office of Sustainable Development (OSD),
a Portland city bureau, working in partnership with the Portland Development
Commission (PDC) and other city bureaus. It is available at no cost
through OSD, PDC and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
A downloadable file of the document can be found in the Breaking
News section of the OSD Web site at www.sustainableportland.com.
Higher Education Institutions Driving Sustainable Markets
From office services to dining services and ecological building design
to landscaping practices, the purchasing power of campuses touches
virtually every aspect of management and has the ability to influence
the supply and demand of materials that support a sustainable society.
National Wildlife Federations Teach-In is aimed
at decision-makers within the administrative, faculty and student
structure, to spark the markets for sustainable goods and services
by educating and nurturing responsible consumers.
In partnership with the National Association of Educational Buyers
(NAEB), NWF is hosting this course entirely via the Internet. The
Teach-In consists of a one-hour on-demand
Webcast taught by Kevin Lyons, director of procurement at Rutgers
University and author of Buying for the Future. The Webcast, available
on-line starting April 10, 2002, will specifically cover green purchasing
of recycled paper, shade-grown coffee, green energy and sustainably
harvested wood. As an added incentive, course registrants are eligible
to join a series of six on-line chats throughout the spring and fall
with various green purchasing experts. Learn more about NWFs
Driving Sustainable Markets campaign at www.nwf.org/campusecology/
Carpet Recycling Agreement Signed
Carpet Recycling Agreement Signed
Carpet and fiber manufacturers, the Carpet and Rug Institute, state
governments, non-governmental organizations and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) signed a groundbreaking agreement known as
the National Carpet Recycling Agreement on January 8, 2002. The voluntary
agreement is the first of its kind in the country, and it aims to
eliminate landfill disposal and incineration of used carpet.
Government and industry have worked together for two years to craft
an agreement that encourages product stewardshipmeaning carpet
manufacturers assume responsibility for carpet throughout its life
cyclefrom design to disposal. With more than 2.5 million tons
of carpet discarded each year and landfill capacity declining, theres
an environmental need to recycle and reuse carpet. Furthermore, used
carpet is difficult and expensive to manage due to its heavy and bulky
nature. This burdens waste processors and often results in the illegal
disposal of carpet by the general public.
To help manufacturers, material suppliers and local governments efficiently
and cost-effectively recycle and reuse carpet, the carpet industry
has established a third-party organization known as the Carpet America
Recovery Effort (CARE). During the agreements 10-year span,
CARE will work to establish collection systems for used consumer carpet.
More information on the National Carpet Recycling Agreement is available
on the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (OEA) Web site
Ganga Goes Global
The Ganga has gone global with the official launch of www.CleanGanga.
com, a Web site that aims to completely restore the polluted river,
starting in Varanasi. It also provides the media with freely available
river-related articles, illustrations, sound bytes and film clips.
Cleaning up the Ganga is a global concern, said Mark Lloyd,
director of the Thames River cleanup. Lloyd traveled to India to work
alongside volunteers at the Campaign for a Clean Ganga (Swatcha Ganga
Abhiyaan), which supports the Web site. Campaigners are presently
cleaning up litter and debris in the river in Varanasi, along with
cleanup of all 77 ghats.
Lloyd said that rendering the River of Heaven pollution-free
will send a powerful message across the world. Cleanup of the
Ganga is important for rivers everywhere, he noted, and
will tell the world something about India as a civilization.
The Web site, produced by Indian and international journalists, brings
together Ganga lovers the world over. Heading the ambitious project
is journalist Roger Choate, who lives in Sweden and New Delhi. He
is also international coordinator of the Swatcha Ganga Campaign. The
site, presently in English, will be introduced in Hindi during the
Authors Join Together to Save Trees
The Green Press Initiative is bringing authors together from different
genres for one common cause: to help the book publishing sector potentially
save millions of trees each year. Authors including Paul Hawken, Winona
LaDuke, Dr. Andrew Weil, Julia Butterfly Hill, Fritjof Capra and David
Suzuki are serving as founding authors and spokespeople for the Green
Press Initiative (www.green pressinitiative.org). The initiative is
working to engage authors and publishers to committing to print their
future books on recycled paper.
In 2000, U.S. book publishers consumed approximately 1.93 million
tons of paper. Based on extrapolations made by Conservatree, this
required the consumption of over 40 million trees averaging 40 feet
in height and six to eight inches in diameter. The widespread use
of recycled paper by book publishers is a direct solution to this
problem of overconsumption and its net effectdeforestation.
However, recycled paper only represents about eight percent of the
entire printing and writing paper market. The program is being coordinated
by the Recycled Products Purchasing Cooperative. Program partners
include Conservatree and the Recycled Paper Coalition.
Entergy Enters Renewable Energy Field
Entergy Corp., through its Houston, TX-based independent power development
business unit, has purchased majority ownership of the 80-megawatt
Top of Iowa Wind Farm, the companys first investment in wind-powered
generation. The project was purchased for an undisclosed amount from
Houston-based Zilkha Renewable Energy and its partner, Midwest Renewable
As part of the transaction, Zilkha and Midwest will retain a long-term
minority ownership in the project. Zilkha will continue to manage
and operate the project. In February 2001, Alliant Energy signed a
long-term contract to purchase 100 percent of the projects energy
output, which is enough to supply approximately 25,000 homes.
Americans Divided Over Risks, Benefits of Genetically Modified Food
The American public is evenly divided over whether genetically modified
food and other agricultural biotechnology products hurt or help the
environment when given basic information on risks and benefits, according
to a poll released by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology
as part of a panel discussion it hosted titled Environmental
Savior or Saboteur? Debating the Impacts of Genetic Engineering.
Despite a long and often fractious debate about the environmental
risks and benefits of biotechnology between critics and supporters,
a majority of the American public agrees with neither position,
said Michael Rodemeyer, executive director of the initiative. Initially,
people tend to feel slightly more strongly about the risks of the
technology, but react more positively when additional information
is presented to them. Simply put, it looks like the jury is still
Prior to reading a series of informational statements about the possible
benefits and risks of biotechnology, respondents nationwide were more
likely to say that the risks of biotechnology outweighed the benefits
(40 percent to 33 percent), while 19 percent thought the benefits
and risks were about the same, and nine percent were unsure. However,
after being read a series of questions about specific environmental
risks and benefits (without specifically identifying which were risks
or benefits), respondents were exactly evenly divided, with 38 percent
saying the risks outweigh the benefits and another 38 percent saying
the benefits outweigh the risks. An additional 21 percent now said
the risks and benefits were about the same, with the number of dont
knows reduced to three percent.
Consumers felt the most important potential environmental benefits
of genetic engineering are: creating plants to clean up toxic soils
(74 percent); reducing soil erosion (73 percent); reducing fertilizer
run-off into streams and lakes (72 percent); reducing the amount of
water used to grow crops (68 percent); developing disease-resistant
varieties of trees that are threatened or endangered (67 percent);
reducing the need to log in native forests (63 percent); and reducing
the chemical pesticides used (61 percent).
In terms of environmental concerns, consumers ranked the possibility
that genetically modified plants, fish or trees could contaminate
ordinary plants, fish and trees not intended to be modified as highest
(64 percent), followed by creating superweeds (57 percent)
and increasing the number of insects that may develop pesticide-resistance
(also 57 percent); reducing genetic diversity (49 percent) and changing
a plant, fish or tree through biotechnology so that it might harm
other species (also 49 percent). Changing the ecosystem ranked lowest
of all the risks and benefits listed at 46 percent.