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green@work : Magazine : Newlines : May/June 2003

Newslines
Actions and initiatives worth noting

2003
Fuel Cell Forecast: $2 Billion by 2011

A newly-released report by the U.S. Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) forecasts a $2 billion market for portable power fuel cells by 2011. According to the market study, “Fuel Cells for Portable Power: Markets, Manufacture and Cost,” the largest market for small fuel cells is in mobile phones, followed by notebook computers and PDAs. The report notes that the cost of the fuel cells will decrease faster than the cost of Lithium Ion batteries and will remain at a premium, but that this should not limit fuel cell sales.

“The $2 billion market estimate is actually the conservative projection,” says Robert Rose, USFCC executive director. “The aggressive forecast calls for fuel cell penetration as high as 70 percent in the worldwide battery market by 2007.”

The study was performed by Darnell Group under the direction of the USFCC’s Portable Power Working Group, and was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the Breakthrough Technologies Institute. The study is available through the “Downloads” page of the council’s Web site at www.usfcc.com.

Recycling Options from Dell

Customers who purchase Dell printers can now recycle their outdated printers at no additional cost, and without ever having to leave their home or office. Customers who purchase a new Dell printer can recycle their old one simply by putting it in the box their new Dell printer came in, attaching the pre-paid shipping label supplied by Dell, and following the return instructions enclosed with their new printer. Customers can go on-line at www.airborne.com to arrange for printers of any make to be picked up at their home or office.

Another Dell recycling program enhancement enables customers to order home pick-up of unwanted notebooks, desktops, monitors and other select computer equipment for $15 per unit. The on-line service is now available; more information is available at www.dell4 me.com/recycling. Customers who purchase the service or donate used equipment receive on-line discounts good for future purchases.


PG&E Honored

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) was recognized by the National Hydropower Association (NHA) for outstanding environmental stewardship of the Mokelumne River and the North Fork Feather River. In 2000, the company successfully completed two collaborative processes to better balance use of the natural resources associated with the company’s Mokelumne River Hydroelectric Project and the Rock Creek-Cresta Hydroelectric Project on the North Fork Feather River. These processes, which included participation from multiple federal and state resource agencies, the local county, a utility district and numerous public interest groups, marks one of the first times that open, public collaborations were successfully used in California to solve major hydro licensing issues. It resulted in innovative and precedent-setting agreements that adopt an ecosystem approach toward resource management and directly led to the issuance of new federal licenses for the projects in 2001.


Analyzing Green Power

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has released a new installment in its Corporate Guide to Green Power Markets series entitled “Introducing the Green Power Analysis Tool.” It is accompanied by a free software tool that WRI has developed for corporate energy managers and others interested in purchasing green power. The tool allows users to analyze the economic and environmental attributes of one or more green power projects. Through an easy-to-use interface, users can research green power projects of interest and create tables and graphs that analyze green power projects either singly or in combination. Users can input data about their own green power projects or learn more about green power markets by exploring several green power projects pre-installed into the tool.

The Corporate Guide series is based on WRI’s experience with the Green Power Market Development Group, a unique partnership of 12 companies dedicated to building corporate markets for green power. The tool can be downloaded free of charge at www.thegreenpowergroup.org/gpat.

Inertia Exacerbates Water Crisis

Faced with “inertia at the leadership level,” the global water crisis will reach unprecedented levels in the years ahead, according to a United Nations report made public in March. Water resources will steadily decline because of population growth, pollution and expected climate change.

The World Water Development Report: Water for People, Water for Life is a comprehensive overview of the state of the resource. To compile it, every U.N. agency and commission dealing with water has for the first time worked jointly to monitor progress against water-related targets in such fields as health, food, ecosystems, cities, industry, energy, risk management, economic evaluation, resource sharing and governance. The 23 U.N. partners constitute the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), whose secretariat is hosted by UNESCO.

“Of all the social and natural crises we humans face, the water crisis is the one that lies at the heart of our survival and that of our planet Earth,” says UNESCO director-general Kochiro Matsuura. “No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis, which touches every facet of life, from the health of children to the ability of nations to secure food for their citizens. Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing at an unsustainable rate. Over the next 20 years, the average supply of water worldwide per person is expected to drop by a third.”

A string of international conferences over the past 25 years has focused on the great variety of water issues including ways to provide the basic water supply and sanitation services required in the years to come. Several targets have been set to improve water management, but “hardly any‚” says the report, “have been met.”

“Attitude and behavior problems lie at the heart of the crisis,” says the report. “Inertia at the leadership level, and a world population not fully aware of the scale of the problem, means we fail to take the needed timely corrective actions.”


McDonald's Opens First HFC-free Restaurant

McDonald’s Denmark has opened the world’s first HFC-free restaurant, equipped with state-of-the-art refrigeration and ventilation systems using environmentally innovative refrigerants that do not contain freon or HFCs (hydroflurocarbons). The new restaurant was officially opened by the Danish environmental minister, Hans Chr. Schmidt, in the town of Vejle.

The project first began two years ago following an international “Refrigeration Summit” hosted by McDonald’s and the United Nations Environmental Programme and the U.S. EPA. McDonald’s was joined by a number of other companies and NGOs, including Greenpeace. As a result of what McDonald’s learned, it decided to accelerate ways to find sustainable refrigerant technologies.

Denmark was chosen as the ideal country in which to locate the test restaurant, since it had already started initiatives to phase out HFC refrigerants. McDonald’s then set to work in close collaboration with the Danish Ministry of the Environment, the Danish Technological Institute and four Danish companies in order to find the most efficient solution.
Kinko's Sets New Forest Policy

Kinko’s, Inc. has established a new forest-based product procurement policy incorporating a strict set of vendor requirements and establishing a central set of recycled content standards. Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has hailed Kinko’s new policy as one of the most effective and meaningful policies put in place by a company to help protect endangered forests and end old growth destruction. The policy was developed with input from prominent environmental groups and suppliers, including RAN and International Paper.

Kinko’s new vendor requirements incorporate firm guidelines for the forest management practices of its suppliers and engages both its vendors and the environmental community to ensure that the company is not aligning itself with suppliers that are logging or distributing products from old growth or endangered forests, converting native forests to tree plantations, or using genetically modified organisms. In addition, suppliers must guarantee and document that none of their supply sources or operations result in the logging of old growth or endangered forests.
Massachusetts Partnership Nets Waste Reduction Success

Roche Brothers and Stop & Shop Supermarkets are revolutionizing the culture of supermarket waste management, one successful project at a time. Diverting produce, dairy, bakeshop and florist waste to local organics recycling facilities, three Roche Brothers grocery stores in Massachusetts have saved more than $60,000 annually. Stop & Shop stores have increased recycling by almost 80 percent. These organics recycling projects are part of an initiative by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) designed to reduce organic waste disposal across the state.

DEP plans to expand upon these pilot projects. It will work closely with WasteCap and the Massachusetts Food Association, and has recently partnered with the U.S. EPA’s WasteWise program to develop a Supermarket Challenge for Massachusetts grocery stores, offering technical assistance and an awards program.

For information, visit: http://www.state.ma.us/dep/recycle/files/orgsumv2.htm
Rev Up Recycling

NASCAR fans had the opportunity to support the environment, as well as their favorite driver, during the Samsung/RadioShack 500 race week at Texas Motor Speedway in March. Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Texas Motor Speedway and the National Association of PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) launched “Rev It Up & Recycle,” a new program designed to encourage race fans to recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans. The multi-faceted program encourages campers to recycle for the chance to win Dale Earnhardt Jr. merchandise and a VIP meet-and-greet with Earnhardt Jr. A percentage of the recycling proceeds went to the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.

“Coca-Cola tested a recycling program at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2001 and found NASCAR fans very supportive of the initiative,” said Scott Vitters, environmental project manager, Coca-Cola North America. “It’s great to be able to build on this initial test and hopefully move closer toward developing a sustainable recycling program. With an average Winston Cup race generating more than 450 tons of waste, we believe there is an opportunity to develop environmentally friendly programs that can be rolled out to a number of tracks across the country.”
Waste = Fuel Initiative Gets Support

Earth Pledge (EP), a New York City, NY-based environmental non-profit group, has received a combined $80,000 from the U.S. EPA and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in support of its Waste=Fuel initiative, which will facilitate the adoption of anaerobic digestion (AD) technology in New York City by large-scale producers of organic waste. Anaerobic digestion is the decomposition of organic waste by bacteria in an oxygen-free environment and produces a methane-rich biogas that can be used to generate heat and electricity. This “landfill gas” is the largest source of methane from human activity in the U.S.

Earth Pledge hopes to eventually divert seven million tons of New York City’s food waste to AD facilities, preventing the release of 1.8 million tons of greenhouse gases and generating 1.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, a renewable energy, in the process.

Using funds from the EPA grant, Earth Pledge will build three small-scale anaerobic digesters in New York City, two at high schools and the other at a community-housing center. This pilot project will educate communities about AD and demonstrate the feasibility of using this technology. Upon completion, EP will then replicate small-scale AD facilities for on-site installation at concentrated urban food waste sources, and to explore emerging renewable energy applications for the generated biogas.
More Pollution Reported

Local manufacturing, power or disposal facilities are likely releasing more toxic chemicals into the environment, says the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The trinational organization recently released its annual Taking Stock report, which revealed that a group of 15,000 industrial facilities across North America released and transferred 32 percent more toxic chemicals from 1998 to 2000. These facilities, with chemical releases and transfers up to 100 tons, represent the majority of polluters in Canada and the U.S.

“It’s very discouraging to see such a large number of facilities report releasing more pollution in our environment, since they are found in communities across the continent,” said Victor Shantora, acting executive director for the CEC. “The small ‘p’ polluter might not grab the same headlines as a large power plant or chemical manufacturer, but their effect is being felt throughout the North American environment.”

In Canada, these “small p” polluters registered a 66 percent increase in chemical releases and transfers. In the U.S., the same group recorded an increase of 29 percent. By comparison, 3,600 facilities reporting more than 100 tons of chemical releases and transfers, recorded a seven percent reduction in pollutants. However, they still account for 90 percent of the total pollution, with hydrochloric acid credited for the largest amount of releases.

All told, the report found more than 3.3 million tons of chemicals released and transferred in 2000.
National Award for Smart Growth

The U.S. EPA is now accepting applications for the second annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement. This competition is open to local or state governments and other public sector entities that have successfully created smart growth, an approach that has clear environmental benefits including improved air and water quality, greater preservation of critical habitat and open space, and more clean-up and re-use of brownfield sites.

Interested parties from urban, suburban and rural areas are encouraged to submit applications for smart growth activities undertaken within the last five years. Applications are due June 30, 2003. For details, visit: www.epa.gov/smart growth/awards_2003.htm.
Disciplinary Action Proposed

Companies that have signed the United Nations Global Compact, but fail to meet its terms, will face the prospect of disciplinary action later this year, according to the latest issue of Ethical Performance. The U.N. will begin to develop new procedures this summer that may include the ability to expel errant signatories, which is not possible under the existing regime.

The decision to introduce a disciplinary procedure is partly a response to criticism that the compact lacks teeth. The Global Compact is a set of principles covering human rights, labor and environmental issues that companies choose to sign up to.
UTC Joins Climate Leaders Program

Carrier Corp. and its parent company, United Technologies Corp. (UTC), have joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program, a voluntary industry-government partnership, which identifies manufacturers that are environmental leaders in adopting aggressive goals and strategies for curtailing greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1997, UTC has lowered its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, and has also announced that it has surpassed its 25 percent energy and water usage reduction goals four years ahead of schedule and is increasing them to 40 percent.

UTC has more than 200 facilities worldwide participating in these conservation efforts, including more than 100 in the United States, over 50 in Europe and nearly 40 in Asia. Performance will be monitored annually to track results and identify further conservation opportunities. Site audits and conservation tools are also available to help facilities identify effective savings opportunities.

 


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