Recyclemania, ‘Healthy’ Asian Carp, and the Best Barrier

1 – There’s another kind of March Madness.

The 14th annual Recyclemania tournament began this month. It pits colleges and universities against each other, competing to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The competition goes for eight weeks, running concurrently with the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

This year, students, faculty and staff at more than 461 schools are participating in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada, according to organizers.

Participating schools in Michigan include Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant. As of Thursday morning, CMU was ranked 35th in the Competition Division, out of 86 schools.

Schools compete in any of 11 categories targeting commonly recycled or composted materials such as paper and paper-based packaging, aluminum, plastics bottles, electronics and food organics.

Ranking are published online, to allow schools to track their progress and standings against rival colleges.

Last year, 91 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials were recovered during the event.

For more information, see Recyclemania.org.

asian-carp-recycle-logo

Asian carp recycling? Credit: LouisvilleUSACE and StockMonkeys.com.

 2 – If we want to eat our way out of the Asian carp crisis, they’re not all that bad.

Researchers at the Prairie Research Institute in Illinois have found that overall, concentrations of arsenic, selenium, and mercury in bighead and silver carp from the lower Illinois River do not appear to be a health concern for a majority of human consumers.

Results of the study have been published in the journal Chemosphere.

Asian carp impact the ecosystem and fishing industry by out-competing native fish for resources.

Commercial harvest of bighead and silver Asian carp has been proposed to help contain the spread of the highly invasive fish, which are already in the Illinois River, which is connected to the Great Lakes via the Chicago Waterway System.

Researchers say the average mercury concentration in fillets of fish they studied was below U.S. screening values for recreational anglers. Overall, investigators say the carp are low in mercury in comparison to many other commercially available fish.

Arsenic and selenium concentrations in bighead and silver carp fillets examined also didn’t pose a risk to human consumers. MMM MMM Good.

3 – Speaking of Asian carp, another study says placing dam-like structures in Chicago waterways would be an almost foolproof method of preventing the fish from reaching Lake Michigan.

According to the research,  physically separating the lake from the Mississippi River watershed would prevent 95-100 percent of Asian carp incursions, while an electric barrier system would have a success rate of 85-95 percent. Using a combination of sounds, bubbles and strobe lights could prevent 75-95 percent of Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

The study was conducted by the University of Notre Dame, the U.S. Forest Service and Resources for the Future, an independent research institution. Their conclusions were based on a survey of experts.

The news follows the January release of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report to Congress, which outlined eight possible scenarios for preventing Asian carp passage through the Chicago area waterway system.

- Mr. Great Lakes, as heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Great Lakes Futures Project, Student Opportunities and Bay County Green Initiatives

As heard Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, 9 a.m. Eastern on Delta College Q-90.1 FM, NPR …

photo swirling water

Photo by virtually_supine

1. The Great Lakes Futures Project is taking shape, and there are opportunities for students to become involved.

The University of Michigan and 20 other research institutions in the U.S. and Canada are joining forces for the project. Those include Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and Michigan Sea Grant.

The goal is to propose a set of long-term research and policy priorities to help protect and restore the Great Lakes. The project also aims to train the next generation of scientists, attorneys, planners and policy specialists.

The Great Lakes Futures Project was assembled by the Transborder Research University Network.

Researchers say this is a critical time for the project, with the recent release of an amended Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the U.S. and Canada.

Organizers say the collaboration of U.S. and Canadian academics, governments, nongovernment organizations, industry and private citizens for this project is unprecedented.

Project officials plans to recruit graduate students for analysis this fall.

(To learn how your institution can be involved, contact the Great Lakes Futures Project at kiglic2@uwo.ca.)

2. Bay County is showing off Green Initiatives as part of a online dashboard.

photo green dashboard car

Photo by M. Stjerna

 

The Bay County Dashboard is a compilation of information about Bay County government activities like public safety, health and education, shared services, and budget and finance.

Under Green Initiatives, the county lists extensive information on recycling.

That includes information on recycling locations for various items, from antifreeze to vinyl siding, in and around Bay County.

There also are links to curbside recycling programs in various townships.

See baycounty-mi.gov for more information.

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Be Aware of Michigan Fishing Proposals, and a Poll on Littering

photo queen snake western lesser siren michigan

A queen snake (large) and western lesser siren (inset). Via Michigan DNR/Jim Harding.

As heard on the April 13, 2012, Environment Report,

part of Friday Edition at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College radio, Q-90.1 FM

Trout, Pike and Queen Snakes

What do you think of fishing regulation proposals?

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources wants to know. The DNR is planning a public meeting and comment session on Monday, April 23.

The meeting is from 7-9 p.m., at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township.

DNR officials plan to discuss several statewide fishing regulation proposals.

Those include:

More specific information on the proposals will be available at the meeting, to be held in the park’s Visitor Center.

You also can study up at the DNR web site at michigan.gov/fishing.

The meeting, again, is from 7-9 p.m. on Monday, April 23, at the Bay City state park in Bangor Township.

Green Becoming the ‘New Normal’ photo no littering sign

Earth Day is coming up, on April 22, and people are finally starting to get the drift of sustainability.

A new survey by the Shelton Group says being eco-friendly is becoming more common among Americans.

Those surveyed say getting caught throwing trash out of the car window is more embarrassing to them than getting caught cheating on their taxes.

The national poll also found that unfriendly behaviors, like driving a gas guzzler, are becoming socially unacceptable these days.

Other things that people surveyed said they would more embarrassed to be caught doing than littering include:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Not using a seatbelt
  • Not recycling plastic bottles
  • and, letting the water run while brushing their teeth.

The researchers say they think being green will eventually become the new normal, because the percentages have reached a tipping point.

One more item worth mentioning: Those surveyed were asked what would encourage them adopt eco-friendly behaviors.

The top responses included penalties, fees, rewards, incentives, and education.

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36 Against a Weak Ballast Water Permit, Michigan Green Schools & Landfills Filling Up

The Delta College Q-90.1 FM Environment Report, heard Fridays at 9 a.m. as part of the award-winning Friday Edition segment.

The report for Feb. 24, 2012:

More Green Schools 

Schools in Bay County are encouraged to become part of a Michigan Green Schools project.

In 2006, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the “Michigan Green School Act.” The law grants a “Michigan Green School” designation to any public or private school in in the state that meets certain criteria.

To become a Michigan Green School, a school must achieve 10 of 20 possible points for environmental and energy-saving measures in an academic year.

There are currently four designated Green Schools in Bay County:

  • Bangor West Elementary School;
  • Christa McAuliffe Middle School;
  • Lincoln Elementary; and,
  • Pinconning High and Middle Schools.

The Bay County Environmental Affairs and Community Development Department is serving as the clearinghouse for all schools in Bay County under the project. The application deadline for this year is March 1.

Blasting Weak Ballast Standards

Dozens of environmental and conservation groups say a proposed federal ballast water permit to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes is too weak.

Comments were due this week to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a proposed permit to regulate ballast water discharges from commercial vessels.

Conservation groups assert that the permit still leaves the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters vulnerable to the introduction and spread of invasive species—and does not adhere to the Clean Water Act. Invasive species already established in the lakes via ballast water discharge include aebra mussels, spiny water fleas and round gobies.

The groups are asking the EPA to

  • Adopt a zero-discharge standard for invasive species;
  • Adopt the most protective technology standards nationwide;
  • Adopt standards for lakers, or ships that stay within the basin; and,
  • Develop a faster implementation timeline to implement new technology standards.

A coalition of 36 groups teamed up to  submit comments on the proposal. Their comments say the permit, as written,  leaves the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters vulnerable to the further introduction and spread of invasive species, and does not adhere to standards of the Clean Water Act.

The groups submitting the comments include

  • the Alliance for the Great Lakes;
  • Great Lakes United;
  • the National Wildlife Federation;
  • Natural Resources Defense Council; and,
  • the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

The EPA is due to issue a final permit by Nov. 30.

24 Years Left

Do you need another reason to recycle?

photo michigan landfill report imported trash

Via Michigan landfill report, DEQ

Michigan landfills have about 24 years of disposal capacity left, according to a state report.

The Department of Environmental Quality report (pdf) says the volume of solid waste sent to landfills in the state dropped by about 1 percent in 2011.

Waste disposed of by Michigan residents and businesses increased by about 3 percent. Waste imported from other states and Canada decreased by about 13 percent.

DEQ officials say they expect Canadian waste volumes will continue to decrease during the next year under a commitment from the province of Ontario.

Still, Canada remains the largest source of waste imports into Michigan, accounting for more than 15 percent of all waste disposed of in Michigan landfills.

Next to Canada, the most out-of-state waste into Michigan comes from Ohio and Indiana.

Mich Enviro Report: Collapsing Roofs, Recyclemania & Post-Coal Jobs

From the Feb. 11, 2011, Environment Report, heard on Delta College Q-90.1 FM … 

1.

Proposed new federal air pollution rules could bring about 62,000 construction jobs to Michigan during the next five years.

That’s according to a University of Massachusetts study released at a national green jobs conference in Washington, D.C.

The study says $200 billion worth of investments to clean up and modernize power plants in the U.S. would create about 1.5 million jobs through 2015.

The report says those investments would create 62,346 construction, installation and professional jobs in Michigan.

On the flip side, about 137 operation and maintenance jobs would be lost in the state, if coal-fired power plants are closed after the new power plants go online.

2.

From now through April 2, universities across the country are competing in Recyclemania 2011.

In Michigan, participating schools include Central Michigan University and Saginaw Valley State University.

Campuses are competing to see which school can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita, the largest amount of total recyclables, and produce the least amount of trash per capita.

SVSU is participating in the Waste Minimization category. Organizers plan to educate employees and students about ways to minimize waste, and work to recycle paper cups and pizza boxes used and sold in the food court.

At CMU, there are programs to sell or donate campus surplus property, work with vendors to reduce transportation packaging and offer reusable dinnerware and utensils in all sit-down dining facilities.

3.

Watch your head. Roofs are collapsing across the Midwest under the weight of all this snow.

The Saginaw Valley received about 10 inches of snow earlier this month.

A report by The Weather Channel cites roof collapses in Port Huron, Michigan, along with Indiana and other states.

A structural engineering professor at the University of New Hampshire recommends that homeowners who can safely remove snow from the ground with a roof rake do so regularly, and not let the snow build up.

Ice dams on your roof can be temporarily addressed by melting the ice with road salt or hot water, the professor says.

If ice damming is a recurring problem, you should have your roof inspected and modified to allow for better ventiliation.

— Photo of roof collapse from 2009. Credit Ryan McFarland, Flickr.

Michigan Environment Report: Batteries, Mercury & Saginaw River Shipping

As heard on Friday Edition, Jan. 21, 2011, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College … 

1.

Battery recycling broke records in 2010.

Close to 7 million pounds of rechargeable batteries were recycled last year in North America, a 10 percent increase from 2009.

According to Call2Recycle, a free battery collection program, the largest collections came from California, Texas and Florida.

Batteries contain a high amounts of heavy metals, and contamination of groundwater is more likely if they’re thrown into a landfill and not recycled.

Several stores in the Bay City area collect rechargeable batteries for recycling, including Radio Shack, Batteries Plus, Staples and The Home Depot.

You can find more listings of recycling centers at Earth911.com. The guide includes information on recycling single-use batteries in Midland.

2.

If you have teeth, listen up.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment has awarded a $270,000 grant to the Michigan Dental Association.

The money will go to assist member and nonmember dentists in Michigan with the installation of amalgam separators.

Many Michigan waste water treatment plants are required to reduce the levels of mercury discharged to lakes, rivers and streams under their permits.

Mercury amalgam from dentists has been identified as a significant source of mercury for some wastewater treatment plants.

A  2008 state law requires most dentists to install, operate, and maintain amalgam separators by Dec. 31, 2013.

State officials say the programs should result in a decrease in the amount of mercury sent to  landfill and discharged to state rivers and streams.

3.

Commercial shipping on the Saginaw River declined for the fifth year in the row in 2010.

According to Boatnerd.com, which tracks vessel passages in the Saginaw River, the 2010 season lasted for 260 days, beginning March 31 and ending Dec. 15.

During that time, there were 145 commercial vessel passages by 29 different boats.  Compared to 2009, that’s 18 fewer passages and 8 fewer vessels.

The Wirt Stone dock in Saginaw saw the most traffic. Next in line was the Bay Aggregates dock in Bangor Township. Third on the list was the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City. But all of those docks saw less traffic than in 2009.

Two vessels made the most trips up and down the Saginaw River last year– the Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber were tied with 31 trips each. Those totals also were down from 36 trips by the same two boats in 2009.

— Battery recycling photo via Moria, Flickr.

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Are You Happy With Michigan’s Bottle Bill?

So this week I’m in West Virginia, to speak at a Nature Conservancy conference on the power of social media. Hint: You should retweet this story.

And I’ve noticed that the folks in West Virginia are really friendly. They say “Hi” and they seem to mean it. Maybe that’s because I’m in “the holler,” as the cab driver said on my way here this morning. But despite their overt happiness, the people of WVA still don’t have a bottle bill. They just throw away the bottles and cans.

Now I was awed on the way here, in a two-hour ride from Pittsburgh, with the beauty of the rolling mountain scenery in the wild and wonderful state. John Denver had it right. And I can’t stop humming “Country Roads.”

On the cover of today’s Charleston Gazette is a story featuring Unknown Environmentalists, lots of them, with brown paper bags over their heads.

The story is about efforts by a local group called Pick Up America, which staged at a rally at the state Capitol to push for a 5-cent deposit on beverage containers. In Michigan, we have a 10-cent deposit. And I’ll admit it’s a pain to reclaim my 10 cents, but it (usually) keeps me honest and encourages recycling.

Which makes me wonder: Do you appreciate Michigan’s 10-cent law, and think it should even be expanded to non-carbonated beverages (water and juice)? I, for one, am happy to have it, despite the hassle. And to think, West Virginia, the second-largest coal-producing state, is quibbling about a nickel.

— Photo via wvgazette.com

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