for Mandatory Climate Change Action
A mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program for the U.S. could be
both effective and politically feasible, according to a diverse group
of business, government and environmental leaders brought together
by the Aspen Institute and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The group, which included representatives of the energy, mining and
automobile industries, environmental and consumer organizations and
Congressional staff, did not debate whether there should be a mandatory
policy. Instead, they started with the premise that all parties want
to ensure, if mandatory action is taken, that climate policies will
be environmentally effective, economical and fair. “What is
truly significant is that such a diverse group was able to reach
consensus on several elements of what a mandatory national policy
might look like,” said program co-chair Eileen Claussen, president
of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Two principles guided the choice of recommendations. First, the desire
for broad rather than sector-specific coverage, and coverage of multiple
gases, not just CO2, guided the participants. This ensured long-term
environmental effectiveness and distributional equity. Second, there
was consensus that phasing of actual reduction targets would be important
and that a modest start would be preferable. This would send a signal
that reducing greenhouse gases was national policy. Deeper cuts could
occur later, as technology evolves and capital stock turns over in
response to early market signals generated by the policy.
After considering several possible designs, participants reached
consensus on a hybrid program that combines elements of a cap-and-trade
program with tradable efficiency standards. An initially modest,
but declining absolute national cap on greenhouse gas emissions would
be placed on large sources such as electric utilities and manufacturers.
Deeper cuts could occur later, as technology evolves and the economy
responds to the policy. The group did not attempt to specify the
level of the absolute cap on CO2 emissions, or the date it should
go into effect. A similar cap would apply to emissions from transportation
fuel suppliers, coupled with tradable CO2-per-mile automobile standards.
The group also recommended tradable efficiency standards for appliances
and other manufactured products.
Participants also stressed the importance of a policy that encourages
development and diffusion of new technologies, both to reduce emissions
and to provide new market opportunities for U.S. business.
The report, Climate Policy Framework: Balancing Policy and Politics,
can be found at www.aspeninst.org/eee or www.pewclimate.org..
EPA Teams with Dell
The U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with Dell
to recycle or redeploy its computer systems at the end of their lifecycles.
The EPA has signed a blanket purchase agreement with Dell under which
the agency can purchase or lease up to 10,000 desktops, notebooks
and servers over the next three years. As the EPA replaces its old
systems, Dell will provide the agency with an easy-to-use, affordable
asset recovery service to either recycle or redeploy those systems,
help protect the confidential data on them and dispose of the hardware
in a manner designed to safeguard the environment.
The agency is leasing the systems for its consolidation through Dell’s
Government Leasing and Finance group, an organization within Dell
that serves the specific finance needs of government customers. Leasing
allows the EPA to achieve budget flexibility as they implement their
technology rotation and asset disposal plan.
Vanguard Honored by Healthcare Group
Vanguard Medical Concepts, Inc., Lakeland, FL, received the 2004
Champion for Change Award from Hospitals for a Healthy Environment
(H2E). The award annually recognizes organizations that are implementing
programs to shrink the environmental footprint of the healthcare
industry by reducing waste, preventing pollution and eliminating
mercury. H2E is a joint program of the American Hospital Association,
the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care Without Harm and
the American Nurses Association. Its goals include reducing medical
waste 30 percent by 2005, with a 50 percent reduction by 2010.
Vanguard received the award for its efforts in 2003 to advance the
initiatives of H2E among its hospital customers and at its own facilities,
including: eliminating 439 tons of medical waste destined for landfills
through its reprocessing programs in place at more than 1,000 Vanguard
customer hospitals nationwide; implementing a reporting system for
its customers to track waste reduction and disposal cost savings
from medical device reprocessing; committing to eliminate an additional
60 tons of DVT plastic annually; actively promoting the H2E initiative
to more than 273 hospitals; and eliminating more than 16 tons of
plastic medical waste by converting the company’s medical waste
system from disposable containers to reusable ones.
Organic Fiber Standards Adopted
After nearly five years of work, the Organic Trade Association (OTA)
has adopted organic fiber processing standards covering all post-harvest
processing, from storage of organic fiber (such as cotton or wool)
at the gin or similar facility, to spinning, wet finishing and labeling.
OTA and industry members developed the standards after reviewing
and modifying existing international standards governing organic
fiber while also taking into account the requirements of the Organic
Foods Production Act and its regulations. The project was supported,
in part, by a generous grant from the Martin-Fabert Foundation.
One of the most important differences between the OTA fiber processing
standards and those in existence from other countries and organizations
is the inclusion of an extremely detailed Materials List stating
what products can and cannot be used. OTA is not aware of any other
fiber processing standard having such a list, said Katherine DiMatteo,
OTA’s executive director.
We believe the standards will not only provide the basis for environmentally
sustainable processing among companies in the organic fiber industry,
but will also become of great interest to the conventional textile
sector as it looks for ways to reduce negative environmental effects
of textile production,” DiMatteo said.
The new processing standards, entitled “The Organic Trade Association’s
American Organic Standards—Fiber: Post Harvest Handling, Processing,
Record Keeping & Labeling,” are available to OTA members
and non-members through a licensing agreement. Visit www.ota.com
for more information.
HP Expands Planet Partners Program
HP is expanding its Planet Partners program inkjet print cartridge
return and recycling service in the United States to better serve
customers and help protect the environment. Beginning in June, customers
can recycle their empty HP 58 and HP 59 inkjet print cartridges by
placing them in an included postage-paid return envelope and dropping
it in the mail. Through this free
and easy-to-use service, customers are encouraged to take an active
role in reducing the amount of waste that impacts the environment.
In 2003, more than 10 million HP LaserJet print cartridges and 1.8
million HP inkjet print cartridges were returned and recycled worldwide
through the Planet Partners program, currently available in more
than 30 countries in Asia, Europe, South America and North America.
HP LaserJet and inkjet print cartridges returned through the Planet
Partners program go to recycling operations where they are reduced
into raw materials for use in new metal and plastic products.
More information about HP’s recycling programs is available
Office Depot Sets Environmental Policy
The environmental campaign against Office Depot is over following
the company’s announcement of a revised environmental policy
that meets The Paper Campaign’s demands of moving the company
toward environmentally preferable paper sales and away from the sale
of products made from endangered forests. The Paper Campaign, a national
coalition of dozens of environmental groups, has applauded Office
Depot’s commitment to environmental responsibility, saying
that the policy far exceeds an initial one that Office Depot committed
to last April.
Under Office Depot’s new policy, the company will phase out
all paper products coming from rare and vulnerable forests, forests
containing exceptional biodiversity values, forests subject to unsustainable
management, and forests that have been illegally logged. This phase-out
will mean a movement away from sourcing its paper from three of the
world’s remaining endangered forest areas, including the southern
United States, the Boreal forests of Canada and the forests of British
Columbia. The company also agreed to achieve an average of 30 percent
post-consumer recycled content across all paper products it sells,
and phase out products from industrial forest operations that convert
naturally diverse forests to monoculture plantations. Finally, Office
Depot committed to not sourcing its paper from areas where natural
forests have been replanted using genetically modified trees
Office Depot’s full policy is available on-line at
Dealing with the Cell Phone Dilemma
Over one billion wireless handsets are currently in use worldwide,
with average life spans for handsets now falling to under 18 months.
In the United States alone, 100 million cell phones will be retired
annually in the coming year—a rate more than 25 times higher
than in 1990. While many of these phones gather dust in drawers or
closets, a large number are sent to landfills, adding to the solid
waste problem that is impacting cities and communities everywhere.
Collection and recycling programs, however, are targeting the problem.
For example, ReCellular Inc., Dexter, MI, has kept over 10 million
of such products out of America’s landfills. Over 50 percent
of the cell phones collected by ReCellular are refurbished to near-new
condition or otherwise certified for resale, then packaged and marketed
to users in developing nations of the world where new phones are
cost-prohibitive. Handsets that cannot be rebuilt are disassembled
and recycled. No environmental waste goes to landfills or incinerators,
either directly or through intermediaries.
Despite the clear advantages of cell phone recycling, only one percent
of retired cell phones are currently made available,” said
Chuck Newman, founder and CEO of ReCellular. “People seem to
inherently know that throwing old cell phones in the household trash
isn’t a good thing to do, so many are simply hanging on to
them. It’s critical we get the word out that cell phone recycling
is not only immensely beneficial, but also easy to do.”
Cell phone collection programs have found their way into virtually
every community in the United States. Major wireless industry companies
including Sprint and Verizon Wireless, as well as consumer electronics
retailer BestBuy, collect used cell phones at their stores. The Rechargeable
Battery Recycling Corp., a non-profit public service corporation,
is now collecting cell phones for recycling at over 30,000 participating
retail locations around the U.S. including RadioShack, Sears and
Many charitable organizations have also joined the effort to make
cell phone collection easy. Veterans Advantage (www.veteransadvantage.com),
the March of Dimes (www.marchofdimes.com), and dozens of local civic,
community and religious groups have initiated collection programs.
Non-profits receive the bulk of the proceeds from cell phone recycling
programs. One watchdog group, in fact, reports that over $6.5 million
have been given to charity through cell phone donations since 1999.
ReCellular maintains an on-line clearinghouse of locations at which
cell phones can be donated. Visit www.wirelessrecy cling.com or www.recellular.com
for a list of drop-off locations.
Erickson Honored by Green Cross
Global Green USA, the U.S. affiliate of Green Cross International,
awarded Gary Erickson, founder and CEO of CLIF BAR, with the Millennium
Award for Corporate Environmental Leadership. Erickson was honored
for his commitment to reduce his company’s ecological footprint
on the planet through a variety of environmental programs. These
include helping build the first large-scale, Native American-owned
wind farm to help offset the company’s CO2 production; using
recycled packaging and eliminating the use of thousands of pounds
of shrink wrap; and incorporating organic ingredients into CLIF BAR,
the first major energy bar brand to be certified organic.
The Green Cross Millennium Awards celebrate the environmental leadership
of extraordinary individuals, companies and organizations who recognize
the connection between humankind and nature.