Green Business Bureau green regulations
In June of 2011, Greenpeace released a report describing how high end clothing, particularly shoes and clothing created by elite companies including Nike, Puma and Adidas, were causing toxic pollutions to be released into the environment. Specifically, Greenpeace found that various Chinese manufacturing facilities for these sportswear giants were using dying, washing, printing and other wet textile processes that were resulting in their sending mass amounts of toxic pollutants into nearby waterways and the environment at large. Greenpeace quickly urged the big three sports gear makers to commit to turning their factories around and striving towards zero toxic emissions. It took a few months, but now all three companies have agreed to work towards change over the next eight years.
The Toxic Truth
As Greenpeace investigated manufacturing processes at two textile plants in China, they found that these plants were releasing dangerous toxins in their efforts at inexpensive textile production and processing, including the dying and printing of shoes and other sportswear. Further sleuthing by the environmentally minded organization found that a variety of high end companies, including Nike, Adidas, Puma and Converse (among others) used this plant to manufacture their products. Some of the companies cited by Greenpeace admitted that they do use the manufacturing facility in question, but asserted that there products were not processed in a way that emits the offending toxins. In fact, Nike, Puma and Adidas all asserted that they use the offending factories for cut and sew projects only, and thus were not part of the water pollution problem.
Despite these companies avowing that they did not purchase wet processed material from these polluting factories, testing has suggested that at least some products from one or more of these labels being sold in Europe did have toxins present. No matter their level of culpability (or admission of such), Nike, Puma and most recently Adidas have all agreed that making their sporting products zero toxic emission is a priority.
Nike and Puma quickly committed to revamping their wet processes on a set timeline, in an effort to meet Greenpeace demands. Adidas seemed reticent in the beginning, saying that they preferred to work with industry leaders as a whole to develop standard processes. While this may have seemed a delay tactic at first, Adidas has now taken the initiative to work with Nike and Puma on such practices.
Making a Commitment to Change
Nike responded swiftly to the Greenpeace concerns and challenge. In a statement released in August, Nike agreed to work towards zero toxic emissions by 2020. Additionally, as part of their own commitment to the environment, Nike has created an Environmental Apparel Design Tool that they are sharing with other companies. This tool helps companies make better choices for materials and processes when designing their products.
Quick to show a desire to better the environment, yet not wanting to seem as though admitting guilt, Adidas released a statement on their corporate site saying that Greenpeace chose to confront the sporting goods industry because they knew that sportswear companies are already extremely environmentally and health conscious, and thus be accepting of the challenging to improve further. Adidas pointed out that their company already has a strict restriction against a variety of known toxic chemicals and will work with other industry giants towards an industry standard of healthy practice which reduces toxic emissions and dangerous pollutants from production of their clothing, as well as toxic residue on their products.
Fortunately, these major sports companies are not just blindly agreeing to change. They seem to be instituting a plan and a timeline. Adidas, for example, has vowed to remove toxins from their entire supply chain and product life cycle, also by 2020. On their corporate website they actually reveal a high level timeline for how they plan to accomplish this lofty goal. Similarly, Puma embarked on an immediate effort to re-evaluate and lengthen its list of non-allowable toxic substances, and committed to removal of toxins from their production chain by 2020.
While in some areas green, eco initiatives may seem like a new age fad that will come and go, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, across the globe going green is becoming more important every day. Countries around the world are banding together to make the environment better by setting goals for reducing emissions, decreasing pollution and reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels. In an effort to encourage such actions on the part of businesses and manufacturing facilities, many governments are developing standards and programs to encourage – even require – green retrofitting and initiatives.
Meeting Government Standards
Many countries are creating standards for a variety of industries and issues. Mexico’s Environmental Due Diligence and Waste Law defines how waste can be treated and how land used for waste storage can be used. In 2003, India updated their Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage laws regulating the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. The European Union has developed emissions standards required of vehicles and manufacturing facilities… the list of countries instating various green standards goes on and on.
Today, no business can thrive – or even survive – without considering some type of eco-friendly governmental standards. Violating such standards is not only bad for the environment, but can result in heavy fines. Thus, it is imperative that any business, large or small, be aware of the government regulations that relate to their processes and procedures.
Saving Money with Green
In addition to meeting governmental mandates, there is also an opportunity cost – a saving really – in going green. Many green initiatives can result in a cost savings, often through reduced waste. My minimizing materials used in manufacturing, for example, a company can reduce materials cost and reduce fees associated with storage or disposal of excess materials. Some of these steps require an initial outlay of money in product design or materials research, but the savings realized over the long run can be great.
Another way to save money, meet various government mandates, and help the environment is through reducing energy consumption. This can be done through simple procedural changes and through equipment upgrade, the latter of which can take some time to recoup the savings, but usually is profitable in the long run. Without spending any additional money energy costs can be cut by simply turning on fewer lights and changing the air temperature settings on the thermostat by a couple degrees. Of course, taking us back to government oversight of green activities, there can sometimes be free money to make going green easier.
Free Government Money
In many areas of the world the government is attempting to make going green a little less painful for companies seeking to make eco-friendly changes. India’s 10-year Green India Mission has provided for reduced taxes on a variety of eco-friendly products from LED lights to hybrid conversion kids for vehicles. The United States has been offering extensive tax rebates on high efficiency heating and cooling for buildings, alternative power as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. Australia recently offered hefty incentives, for example, for companies that installed rainwater collectors to limit the need for water purification; while this program recently ended, this shows one example about how government programs can help offset the cost of green initiatives, helping them pay for themselves sooner.
Preparing for the Future
While some simple green steps can be taken with little financial investment, making a true commitment to green will require some planning. Established business, manufacturing facilities and energy suppliers may initially find it challenging to scale back production in order to retrofit and make major green changes. But by investing in research and technology with an eye towards reducing waste and saving energy, a serious amount of money can be saved over the long term. Add this to the need to meet governmental standards around the world and make use of government rebates and incentives, and it seems that making green changes is more a need than an option. On top of all this, as consumers become more and more environmentally conscious they will demand more of the same from the businesses they patronize, meaning that by going green you can save money, but also expand your customer base and keep your customers happy.
On June 12, 2009, the long awaited High Definition Digital TV (HDTV) transition became a reality in the United States. Those who complied early were able to enjoy watching TV while those who haven’t are left silenced inside homes where there is no signal for analog TV sets.
In light of this new development, many will purchase digital TV’s. The effect – a lot of e-waste will be created. Analog TV’s will be thrown out without any use for it. Some TV manufacturers have not any created mechanisms to recycle old models into productive ones. The depressing news is millions of analog TV’s will become non-biodegradable junks which will result into tons and tons of environmental waste in the country and yes, all over the world. This is despite the fact that many states and localities have banned TVs from landfills. One TV set contains eight pounds of lead. When a TV is crushed inside a garbage truck, lead is sure to leak out.
Environmentalists say that your TV is the most toxic thing at home. That is why there is a good reason why Green Business Bureau among other environmental groups is alarmed with this possible scenario.
This point is highly stressed by Barbara Kyle National Coordinator for Electronics Take Back Coalition. She states:
“With the upcoming digital TV conversion looming before us, many people don’t know where to take their old TVs… There are some responsible manufactures and retailers who offer take back programs, but unfortunately not all — including market leader Vizio.”
The good news is more and more states have created Recycling Laws in response to the long announced TV conversion. Some states offer best practices on recycling old TV sets. Among these states include California, Maine and Maryland. California imposes $6 to $10 on top of actual price to buyers of TV sets and computer monitors. The funds generated from this program are channeled into recycling programs. Maine has a centralized consolidation point where consumers can drop off their old TV sets or computer monitors. In exchange, they are required to pay as much as $5 in support of Maine’s recycles program. Maryland takes $5000 initial registration fee among startup business within the State to facilitate recycling. The fee will be automatically reduced to $500 in the succeeding years if the company will initiate take back programs. Although this scheme is originally designed for computer monitors, there is no doubt that the State will include TV sets in its program with the HDTV developments.
Electronic Take Back Program recently published a report entitled “2009 TV Companies Report Card.” The report states that there are now six TV manufacturers and two retailers that have started implementing take back programs. Interestingly so, the report have “graded” TV manufacturers in terms of their efforts to ward off environmental threat particularly in light of the HDTV transition. Tied at first honours are Sony and Samsung with a B-, seconded by Best Buy and Wal-Mart retailers with C+ and third placers with C grade include LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba. Among those who failed and received an F grade consists of Funai, Hitachi, JVC, Mitsubishi, Philips, Sanyo, Target, Thomson, Westinghouse and yes, including the No.1 TV manufacturer Vizio.
Grade passers are setting out good examples among others who continue to act deaf amidst calls for recycling and take back programs. It makes sense for consumers to support and patronize TV manufacturers who demonstrates stake in overall environmental initiatives.
J.Sterling Morton, the founding father of Arbor Day had said “Each generation takes the earth as trustees”. Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April by planting trees and is the first cousin to the younger Earth Day. Earth Day first came into being as an organized protest on 22nd April 1970, leaving a permanent impact on the political and legislative thinking of America. While planting trees was a definite first step in the right direction, there were a zillion other issues, frighteningly real and close to home that had Senator Gaylord Nelson worried.
In the EPA Journal, 1980, Senator Nelson commented, “My primary objective in planning Earth Day was to show the political leadership of the Nation that there was broad and deep support for the environmental movement. While I was confident that a nationwide peaceful demonstration of concern would be impressive, I was not quite prepared for the overwhelming response that occurred on that day. Two thousand colleges and universities, ten thousand high schools and grade schools, and several thousand communities in all, more than twenty million Americans participated in one of the most exciting and significant grassroots efforts in the history of this country.” The Environmental Protection Agency was founded as a direct result of Earth Day 1970.
Earth Day marked the beginning of public awareness that America was setting a terrible example to the rest of the on looking world. The mindless guzzling of finite resources and pollution of air, water and soil could not go on forever. It was time to start thinking about conservation of resources and the impact of human actions on the quality of the environment. As former President, Mr. Clinton remarked “Americans came together for the very first Earth Day. They came together to make it clear that dirty air, poison water, spoiled land were simply unacceptable. They came together to say that preserving our natural heritage for our children is a national value.”
Some of the crucial legislation that came about as a result of Earth Day April 22, 1970 is the following:
• The Clean Air Act
• The Water Quality Improvement Act
• The Water Pollution and Control Act Amendments
• The Resource Recovery Act
• The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
• The Toxic Substances Control Act
• The Occupational Safety and Health Act
• The Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act
• The Endangered Species Act
• The Safe Drinking Water Act
• The Federal Land Policy and Management Act
• The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act
Inflation, the energy crisis, the perilous state of the economy and international conflict has not deflected interest sparked by the peaceful protest that took place in April 1970. Each year, Earth Day reinforces our resolve to be true to ourselves and accountable for our actions.
In the Senator Nelson’s own words, “It is clear that the environmental movement now is far stronger, far better led, far better informed, and far more influential than it was ten years ago. Its strength grows each year because public knowledge and understanding grow each year.”
Earth Day has evolved into so much more than a ‘day’. It has re-defined core values and underlined the need for transparency and accountability in government, legislation, business economics and everyday life.
The effects that fluctuating oil prices have had on the average American vary widely by state, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States’ Oil Vulnerability and Solutions for Change,” a report (PDF) prepared for the NRDC by David Gardiner & Associates, ranks U.S. states in two major ways. One list ranks U.S. states by their dependence on oil, taking in factors like gas prices. The other ranks states’ efforts to reduce oil dependence, taking into account public transportation funding, state fleet efficiency, hybrid car purchasing incentives, emissions standards, and clean-energy projects.
In 2008, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, and Oklahoma residents were the hardest hit by oil prices with their drivers spending a larger percentage of their income on gasoline than other Americans. The NRDC’s official ranking is by both percentage of income and actual dollar amount spent on gas. So while Mississippi ranked worst for drivers spending the largest percentage of their income on gas, Oklahoma drivers actually spent the most, spending on average $2,766.65 in 2008.
There were some surprises in the report.
A state that you might not normally associate with clean energy (or clean air) seems to have reinvented itself. New Jersey, who just recently announced a major solar effort for its leading power utility, was ranked seventh for states doing the most to promote clean-energy technology and reduce oil dependency in 2008. Not surprisingly, California, which has also been buying big into solar power for utilities amid a plethora of other green initiatives throughout the state, was ranked first.
The states doing the most to wean residents off oil, according to the NRDC report:
4. New Mexico
6. New York
7. New Jersey
Ten states were also singled out by the NRDC for exerting the least amount of effort to wean themselves off oil in the organization’s eyes.
“The failure of the 10 worst states to take meaningful action to reduce oil dependence exacerbates the national security and environmental harms associated with our current transportation habits. These and other states need to be drivers of change,” the NRDC said in its report.
The 10 states making the least amount of effort to reduce oil dependence, according to the NRDC report:
1. West Virginia
5. South Dakota
9. North Dakota
Source: Candace Lombardi
Westar Energy today settled an air pollution lawsuit brought by the federal government by agreeing to spend at least $500 million on equipment to reduce emissions at the company’s Jeffrey Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant near St. Marys, Kansas.
In a complaint filed in February 2009, the government alleged that the Topeka-based utility modified all three units at the Jeffrey Energy Center to produce more electricity without installing required pollution control equipment or complying with emissions limits, in violation of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements.
The government discovered the violations through an information request submitted to Westar, the largest electric utility in Kansas.
“Today’s settlement sets the most stringent limit for sulfur dioxide emissions ever imposed on a coal-fired power plant in a federal settlement,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is committed to protecting clean air for communities by making sure coal-fired power plants comply with the law.”
The EPA estimates the cost of the injunctive relief required by this settlement at between $490 and $550 million through the end of 2016.
As part of the settlement, Westar has agreed to pay a $3 million civil penalty – $2.75 million to the United States and $250,000 to the state of Kansas. “We will not, however, seek to recover the $3 million charge from our customers,” said Larry Irick, Westar vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary.
In addition, the company has agreed to spend $6 million on environmental mitigation projects such as hybrid electric utility vehicle and electric transportation infrastructure, clean diesel vehicle conversions and small-scale renewable wind power.
Under the settlement, Westar will install and operate pollution control equipment at the Jeffrey Energy Center that is expected to reduce combined emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by roughly 78,600 tons per year, which is 85 percent below 2007 emissions.
In addition, Westar will surrender surplus sulfur dioxide allowances. These allowances cannot be used again, which means that the emissions will be permanently removed from the environment. Westar will also rebuild and optimize controls to reduce particulate matter emissions.
“Long before the Department of Justice filed this lawsuit, we were already taking actions to keep our air clean,” said Bill Moore, Westar president and chief executive officer. “Today’s settlement is an extension of our environmental stewardship. We are committed to environmental protection while keeping in mind that consumers ultimately bear costs for cleaner air and newer, better technologies.”
“In the past few years, Westar has already invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the environmental performance of our coal plants,” Moore said. “The settlement calls for environmental investments and mitigation we would have eventually done anyway, and puts our dollars to work for the environment rather than being spent on expensive litigation.”
Under the settlement, Westar agrees to install a selective catalytic reduction system on one of the three Jeffrey Energy Center coal units by the end of 2014. This technology reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide into the air, similar to what a catalytic converter does on a vehicle.
A second selective catalytic reduction system would be installed on another Jeffrey coal unit by the end of 2016, if needed to meet nitrogen oxide reduction targets.
Already scheduled projects to install new low-nitrogen oxide burners and electrostatic precipitators will go forward as planned. Electrostatic precipitators remove emissions of fine particles, mostly of ash, created by burning coal.
In 2009, Westar completed a three-year project that cuts sulfur dioxide emissions at Jeffrey by over 95 percent, Moore said.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can cause severe harm to human health and the environment, according to the EPA. After being emitted from power plants, they are converted to fine particles of particulate matter that can lodge deep in the lungs, causing a variety of health impacts including premature death.
Sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides also contribute to acid rain, smog, and haze. Air pollution from power plants can drift downwind and degrade air quality far from the source.
“This settlement will lower harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by thousands of tons each year, and will benefit air quality in Kansas and downwind areas,” said Ignacia Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce violations of the Clean Air Act’s new source review provisions at coal-fired power plants and other sources of excess emissions across the country.”
Westar Energy generates and distributes electricity to more than 684,000 customers in Kansas. The company owns and operates three coal-fired electrical generating stations in the state. The settlement applies to all three units at the Jeffrey Energy Center, which comprise 2,160 megawatts, or 73 percent, of Westar’s coal-generating capacity.
The proposed settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
Source: Environment News Service