The time for electric trucks and buses is now

June 10, 2020 by  
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The time for electric trucks and buses is now Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 06/10/2020 – 01:30 Despite the pandemic, sales of electric trucks and buses are expected to surge in the United States and Canada over the next couple of years. And perhaps, surprising to many, they’ll soar even within this year (the year that can best be described as WTF).  That’s according to new data released recently by the clean-transportation-focused nonprofit CALSTART. The organization expects there to be 169 zero-emission commercial vehicles available for purchase, or soon to be available, in North America by the end of 2020; that’s a 78 percent increase from the number of zero-emission commercial vehicles available at the end of 2019. What’s more, between 2019 and 2023, the amount of zero-emission commercial vehicle models is expected to double, to 195.  Why does this matter? Because diesel-powered trucks and buses are responsible for a disproportionate amount of transportation-related carbon emissions and are also a source of air pollution, much of it in disadvantaged communities, who live closer to industrial areas or freeways. In addition, commercial vehicles are offering a bright spot for automakers that are seeing slumping sales of passenger vehicles in the wake of COVID-19.  If data and analyst predictions make your eyes glaze over, you can look at the trend another way. Companies are increasingly making zero-emission truck and bus announcements. Every day when I skim Twitter or my inbox, I see more. Here are just a few from the past couple of weeks: General Motors is making an electric van to rival Tesla. Rivian is on track with its Amazon electric delivery vans. Nikola Motors will start accepting reservations June 29 for its electric pickup truck the Badger. Ford is making an electric transit van. CALSTART says that the surge is coming from a combination of market demand, policies and economics as EV battery costs continue to drop. Big companies such as Amazon , IKEA , UPS and FedEx are making big purchases (or working with partners to make purchases). But cities across the United States are also buying EVs, including electric transit buses, garbage trucks and pickup trucks. Substantial growth in the number of commercial EV models available is particularly important for the market because model availability has long been a major hurdle. The large automakers have been pretty slow to offer a variety of models, citing a lack of demand from customers. It’s a pretty standard chicken-and-egg scenario that happens in a nascent market. But as a result, much of the early commercial EV models on the market have come from startups such as Rivian , Nikola , Chanje and Arrival . The bigger automakers are entering the market and playing catch-up.  COVID-19 also has shone a spotlight on the need for a resilient and dynamic transportation supply chain, as shippers across the country have relied heavily on trucks and truck drivers to meet unusual spikes and valleys in demand. The trucking industry, like all operators of commercial vehicles, will need to become cleaner, too, as customer demand, policies and economics evolve. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here . Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Electric Trucks Electric Bus Clean Fleets Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Nikola Badger pickup truck.

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The time for electric trucks and buses is now

The time for electric trucks and buses is now

June 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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The time for electric trucks and buses is now Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 06/10/2020 – 01:30 Despite the pandemic, sales of electric trucks and buses are expected to surge in the United States and Canada over the next couple of years. And perhaps, surprising to many, they’ll soar even within this year (the year that can best be described as WTF).  That’s according to new data released recently by the clean-transportation-focused nonprofit CALSTART. The organization expects there to be 169 zero-emission commercial vehicles available for purchase, or soon to be available, in North America by the end of 2020; that’s a 78 percent increase from the number of zero-emission commercial vehicles available at the end of 2019. What’s more, between 2019 and 2023, the amount of zero-emission commercial vehicle models is expected to double, to 195.  Why does this matter? Because diesel-powered trucks and buses are responsible for a disproportionate amount of transportation-related carbon emissions and are also a source of air pollution, much of it in disadvantaged communities, who live closer to industrial areas or freeways. In addition, commercial vehicles are offering a bright spot for automakers that are seeing slumping sales of passenger vehicles in the wake of COVID-19.  If data and analyst predictions make your eyes glaze over, you can look at the trend another way. Companies are increasingly making zero-emission truck and bus announcements. Every day when I skim Twitter or my inbox, I see more. Here are just a few from the past couple of weeks: General Motors is making an electric van to rival Tesla. Rivian is on track with its Amazon electric delivery vans. Nikola Motors will start accepting reservations June 29 for its electric pickup truck the Badger. Ford is making an electric transit van. CALSTART says that the surge is coming from a combination of market demand, policies and economics as EV battery costs continue to drop. Big companies such as Amazon , IKEA , UPS and FedEx are making big purchases (or working with partners to make purchases). But cities across the United States are also buying EVs, including electric transit buses, garbage trucks and pickup trucks. Substantial growth in the number of commercial EV models available is particularly important for the market because model availability has long been a major hurdle. The large automakers have been pretty slow to offer a variety of models, citing a lack of demand from customers. It’s a pretty standard chicken-and-egg scenario that happens in a nascent market. But as a result, much of the early commercial EV models on the market have come from startups such as Rivian , Nikola , Chanje and Arrival . The bigger automakers are entering the market and playing catch-up.  COVID-19 also has shone a spotlight on the need for a resilient and dynamic transportation supply chain, as shippers across the country have relied heavily on trucks and truck drivers to meet unusual spikes and valleys in demand. The trucking industry, like all operators of commercial vehicles, will need to become cleaner, too, as customer demand, policies and economics evolve. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here . Topics Transportation & Mobility Electric Vehicles Electric Trucks Electric Bus Clean Fleets Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Nikola Badger pickup truck.

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The time for electric trucks and buses is now

Paying farmers a living wage is essential to ensuring sustainable coffee production

June 10, 2020 by  
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Paying farmers a living wage is essential to ensuring sustainable coffee production Dean Cycon Wed, 06/10/2020 – 01:00 When you sit back with a good cup of coffee, you will be engulfed in the warmth, aroma, taste, acidity and body of the brew. Yet, swirling beneath the surface all of the major issues of the 21st century — climate change, globalization, immigration, women’s rights and wealth inequity — are being played out in remote coffee villages around the world.  How companies behave in the coffee trade has a direct impact not only on the lives and livelihoods of 28 million coffee farming families but on the welfare of the planet itself. Coffee companies claiming to be “ethical” or “sustainable” that refuse to pay a living wage to the farmers are fueling this longstanding human and environmental crisis.  Changes in rainfall patterns and temperature weaken coffee plants and reduce yields. Climate-enhanced fungi and bacteria decimate coffee plants, leaving families with little or no income for the next five years until new trees can be planted and mature. Larger farm owners must deforest land and plant more coffee to make up for the historically low prices they are receiving from the market. This deforestation inhibits carbon sequestration, which leads to higher temperatures. The cycle is self-fulfilling.  As a result, coffee production will be greatly limited in medium and lower elevations by 2030 to 2050. When production is reduced, farmers may use more chemicals in the growing process, which harms the soil and water sources, further degrading the planet and human health. Coffee, poverty and migration are also connected. The largest single group of migrants trying to cross the southern border are from Guatemala, and most of them are from the coffee lands of Huehuetenango province. They are unemployed and landless coffee farming families hoping for a better life.  The price per pound paid to coffee farmers is based on the “New York C price,” a commodity system that operates much like a stock market. For several years, the C price for coffee has hovered around the farmer’s cost of production ($0.80-$1.10), which means no profit for the farmers. From a high in 2014, prices paid to farmers have plummeted by 70 percent and now dance around $1 per pound. Every pound a farmer sells, and every cup we drink, pushes a farmer deeper into poverty and despair.  If coffee companies really want to fight the difficulties facing coffee farmers and the environment, they should just pay up. Companies are not required to base their payments to farmers on the C price, and many of us do not. Organic and Bird Friendly certifications offer a price premium to the farmer. Fair Trade provides a “living wage floor” and many committed Fair Traders pay substantially higher prices. The few real Direct Traders offer real price premiums for limited amounts of high-quality coffee. Many companies hide behind labels, such as Rainforest Alliance or Utz Kapeh, or self-created programs such as “Ethical Sourcing,” which sound good but do not guarantee higher prices.  Ironically, coffee company profits may be the highest in history. Companies such as Smuckers and Starbucks continue to raise their prices while their main cost of goods (buying coffee beans) has dropped considerably. According to the United Nations, the ratio between what the farmer was paid and what the companies sold their coffee for was 1:3 during the 1970s. Today, it is as high as 1:20, as many consumers are paying $20 a pound.  In 2012, Starbucks reported its average price for green beans was $2.56 per pound . However, that is the price it paid to the broker, not to the farmer. After backing out shipping, insurance, importer and exporter and mill costs, that price would be closer to $2.20 paid per pound to the farmer. By 2014, Starbucks was only paying $1.72 to the broker (maybe $1.36 to the farmer). By paying the lower amount, Starbucks took $387 million out of the farmers’ pockets. As green prices keep falling, Starbucks has continued to pay coffee farmers less, while charging consumers more.  So, who is winning this game? Not the farmers, not the public and not the environment. Instead of paying enough to support the farmers, large and small coffee companies contribute lesser amounts to nonprofits for clean water, health and environmental projects under the banner of “corporate sustainability.” If coffee companies really want to fight the difficulties facing coffee farmers and the environment, they should just pay up. If Starbucks returned to its 2012 broker and farmer prices, it nearly would double family income on most small farms. To family farms in Nicaragua, Peru, Ethiopia and Indonesia, that $1,400 could pay for healthcare, children’s education, proper nutrition and technology to produce higher yields and reduce their need to clear land. Even a 25-cent increase in the price paid to farmers, which would get Starbucks closer to the prices paid by truly committed coffee companies, would bring $150 million back to the farms and its stock price would not even blink. As an industry, we have lived long and well by treating farmers just like coffee. We see them as fungible commodities instead of true partners in the success of our businesses who are integral to effective adaptation to climate change and other issues of the day. The days of maximizing profits without seriously incorporating farmers’ concerns that bind us all together are over. It is time to pay up. Pull Quote If coffee companies really want to fight the difficulties facing coffee farmers and the environment, they should just pay up. Topics Food & Agriculture Equity & Inclusion Environmental Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Paying farmers a living wage is essential to ensuring sustainable coffee production

What do Americans think about fake meat products?

February 21, 2020 by  
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The topic of how we produce food is commonplace and more relevant than ever. After all, the way we choose to grow produce affects waterways, soil and air, which in turn, affects each of us. When it comes to raising animals for meat, the stakes are even higher. Report after report doles out alarming numbers regarding pollution related to the practice. Plus, animal activists frequently remind us about how animals are treated when they are raised as food sources. The rise of fake meat With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that food scientists have been investing copious research and development time, money and energy into finding meat alternatives. Some have already been around for decades, while new alternatives are consistently hitting the market. Although beef replacements are the most common, you can find pork, chicken and even fish alternatives. Related: Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years Opinions on meat substitutes So what do people actually think about this “fake meat” phenomenon? A research group called Piplsay posed the question nationwide in a January 2020 survey and received 31,909 responses from individuals aged 18 years and older. The results show an overwhelming interest in the products and an underwhelming satisfaction. Specifically, 51% of Americans have tried meat substitute products at least once, a majority of which (53%) said they tried it because they were curious. Another 32% responded they tried it due to a concern for the environment or for their health . Others say they are trying to go vegan or vegetarian and were wondering if the meat substitute would satisfy the longing for meat (15%). Why are people trying fake meat? The results show there are a variety of reasons people try or continue to consume fake meat, none of which seem to be because they actually prefer the taste. In fact, out of 31,909 responses, fewer than 30% gave the products a thumbs up. When it comes to health, the debate rages on to whether fake meat has anything to offer. Even though 27% felt fake meat was a healthy and eco-friendly alternative, a slightly larger 28% felt these meat alternatives can’t beat real meat. Another 20% suggest the products are highly processed, counterbalancing any potential benefits from avoiding meat. A quarter of the respondents said they didn’t know what to think of them. Related: Beyond & Impossible alternative meats — are they healthier than the real thing? The most popular brands for meat substitutes When Piplsay asked people what brands they had tried, a group of big names were, not surprisingly, in the top five. Seven percent of respondents had tried Hormel, and another 7% tried Perdue brands. Impossible Foods is relatively new to the market, but at the time of this survey, 11% of respondents had tried it. Tyson garnered another 13%, and the most-frequently tried products are produced by Beyond Meat (15%). The type of meat substitute that people were interested in trying varied, too, with beef being the most popular at 38%. Chicken came in at 29%. There was a significant drop for pork at 18%, but it is a newer product to the market. Finally, fish swam in at just 15%. Study demographics One interesting result of the survey is that there didn’t seem to be a huge geographical discrepancy. The top three states where fake meat is consumed “quite often” are Washington (18%), South Dakota (20%) and Vermont (26%). These numbers don’t represent the populations as a whole, but rather the frequency of respondents who say they eat fake meat quite often, which is 12% of overall respondents. In contrast, 23% said they’ve had it once or twice and 16% admit they’ve only had it once. Age is one category where the survey highlights fairly large differences. Millennials are by far the most likely to eat fake meat on a regular basis. Although only 16% of millennials eat fake meat regularly, that’s twice the reported number from baby boomers, at only 8%. Not only do millennials rank the highest for consuming the products, but their reason for doing so stands out as well. The report shows that 23% of millennials eat fake meat for health and environmental reasons , which is highest among the age groups. In contrast, the age group with the largest number of people saying they have no interest in even trying fake meat goes to the baby boomers, with 52% opposed to the idea. The fake meat trend has room for improvement All in all, the survey revealed that while many people are interested in trying, have tried or regularly consume meat alternatives, most people feel these products leave more to be desired in terms of flavor and healthful ingredients. Still, people seem to still eat many of these fake meats for betterment of the planet, and there is still plenty of room in the industry for existing and new brands to grow and innovate. + Piplsay Images via Shutterstock

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What do Americans think about fake meat products?

Meet the urban planner responsible for San Francisco’s car-free Market Street

February 18, 2020 by  
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Downtown San Francisco is putting pedestrians first by turning the 2-mile Market Street, a major hub for the city, into a completely car-free space. Inhabitat spoke with an urban planner of the esteemed Perkins and Will for more details about the groundbreaking, pedestrian-friendly project. While the complete redesign is expected to extend into the rest of the year, January 29 marked the official ban of cars on the thoroughfare. The structural transformation will include a restriction of public cars, but it will also implement newer two-way streets, intersection safety improvements and extensions for the Muni (the city’s public transit system). Buses, as well as a fleet of vintage streetcars, will also be able to operate along the street. Related: Perkins and Will designs modular, affordable housing for the homeless Inhabitat caught up with urban planner and developer Geeti Silwal from the San Francisco branch of design firm Perkins and Will . Silwal was an integral part of the design and development of the Market Street project. Her initial design created the vision and laid the foundation for the car-free initiative, taking close to a decade to finally come to pass. Inhabitat: The plan to make San Francisco’s Market Street car-free was 10 years in the making. Can you talk a bit about how this project began? Silwal: The project was initiated primarily to take advantage of the fact that Market Street needed to replace its aging utility that would need to be dug up soon. The city agencies took this opportunity to reimagine the role and identity of the city’s premiere boulevard. Working with six key city and county agencies, Perkins and Will led a team of urban designers, transportation planners, infrastructure engineers, public realm strategists, streetscape designers and wayfinding experts to lead this exploration. We started in 2011 meeting three demanding — and sometimes competing — objectives: placemaking, enhancing transit experience and improving infrastructure. In order to meet these objectives, we expanded the scope of the study to include Mission Street to help relieve the demands on Market Street. We analyzed: What if Market Street offered seamless transit transfers and relied on Mission Street to provide safe, pleasant, dedicated and buffered bike lanes? What if we minimized space dedicated to private vehicles to provide more space for pedestrians and bicyclists ? What is the right bike infrastructure to invite the 8- to 80-year-olds to ride on Market Street? Would this achieve our shared vision of Market Street as a destination to socialize and enjoy street life and to interact with public art , nature and each other?  We saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a beautiful street befitting the world-class city it represented. Prioritizing and structuring the street for people and public life over movement of private vehicles was a fundamental goal that the entire team got behind. Inhabitat: How do you feel now that this vision has come to life? Silwal: It’s gratifying. If you were to walk Market Street today and compare it to walking it the week before it went car-free , you’d notice a dramatic difference. Market Street now feels peaceful, safe and comfortable — it really feels like a completely different place. There has been a positive response from the media and people in general. We’ve heard many people say, “I took transit and it was so fast and so much better!” or “I biked Market Street and it feels as though I am in Amsterdam.” And this is only the beginning. More improvements will happen in the next few years as the future phases of the Better Market Street project unfold. Inhabitat: What do you think banning cars on some of San Francisco’s streets means for the rest of the country? Are there many other environmentally minded cities following suit? Silwal: The Better Market Street project was inspired by several cities in Europe, which have streets prioritized for pedestrians, cyclists and transit. There are many examples outside of Europe as well. I come from India, and in my home city, Shimla, the main streets in the mall and lower mall area are closed to traffic and are for pedestrian use only. We need to embrace the qualities of these streets that put ‘people first’. Market Street’s new image will be instrumental in inspiring other cities to rethink their streets. It will take strong political will, persistent public agency collaboration, community support and individual behavioral change to think beyond cars. Inhabitat: What about the design do you think was most integral to the environmental benefits of the project? Silwal: By not enabling private vehicles, people are encouraged to use low-carbon modes of transportation and subsequently, greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced. By making Market Street safe, inviting, comfortable and efficient for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users, people are more likely to take these modes of transit. Related: Car-free Sundays are the norm in Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá Inhabitat: We love your motto — Designing urban centers with the fundamental organizing principle of ‘people first’ creates more humane, inclusive and socially connected cities . What is important about putting pedestrians first in the fight against climate change? Silwal: We’re in a climate crisis , and we need to base our urban planning around it. Transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. By prioritizing cars, we have structured our streets to promote that. If we design streets for the low-carbon modes, we will have a different outcome. I would say that ‘pedestrians first’ is fundamentally about a ‘people first’ approach. Designing cities that allow the majority of people to navigate their city on foot, bike or transit will result in a huge reduction in carbon emissions. Providing an efficient, enjoyable and a robust network of transit system reduces single-occupancy car trips.  We know that climate change impacts will have a more severe effect on the most vulnerable population of our cities. Planning for physical and social connectedness is an important criterion in dealing with climate change. Social connectedness that is about face-to-face interaction enables people to know, understand and empathize more with their fellow beings. It facilitates social resilience. A resilient city is better prepared to fight climate change. Inhabitat: Can you talk about safety, which was the other big concern before Market Street’s car ban went into effect? Silwal: Market Street has always been a popular street for the cyclist community, but it is also infamous for 20 times more collisions than similar streets in the state. Reducing conflict among pedestrians, cyclists and drivers was a key goal for this project. This change will make it much safer for commuting pedestrians and cyclists. Further enhancements to the bike infrastructure will be rolled out in future phases of the Better Market Street project that will have a dedicated and buffered environment for cyclists — making it even safer. Inhabitat: What’s next for you? Can we look forward to any other exciting sustainability projects in the future? Silwal: Through our urban design practice, Perkins and Will is continually planning, advocating and proposing for pedestrian/bike-prioritized connectivity in existing environments and new developments. Mission Rock is a project along San Francisco’s eastern waterfront on the Giants’ 25-acre surface parking lot. Mission Rock’s Shared Public Way will offer a new street prioritized for pedestrians, with limited vehicle movement. The Shared Public Way at Mission Rock will be a dynamic space with street rooms, stormwater gardens and tree groves that will create a lively and unique environment. These design elements serve as cues to differentiate pedestrian-dedicated areas from the shared pedestrian/vehicular zone. Vehicles on the Shared Public Way will be limited to one-way travel for drop-off, pickup and deliveries only. Besides streets, Perkins and Will is currently engaged in the Living Community Challenge (LCC) pilot project in the city of Sacramento called the Sacramento Valley Station Master Plan. “LCC is a certification program that guides the design and construction of buildings and neighborhoods to be socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. LCC projects aim to have a net-positive impact in seven petals: place, water, energy, health & happiness, materials, equity and beauty.” This project plans to be a regenerative project. It plans to be a net-positive carbon, net-positive water and net-positive energy community around the regional intermodal mobility hub in Sacramento. We are privileged to work in an industry that lays the foundation for smarter, sustainable design that has a positive impact on the places and people that inhabit it. + Perkins and Will Images via Perkins and Will

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Meet the urban planner responsible for San Francisco’s car-free Market Street

Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

February 18, 2020 by  
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A Montana town has found a money-saving solution to its sewage and wastewater treatment expenses, thanks to a nearby craft brewery. The innovation caught the eye of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provided the town and its water reclamation facility an Honorable Mention accolade in one of the federal agency’s annual awards. Havre, Montana has a population of 10,000. Its 40-year-old water reclamation facility, as the EPA has described, “needed upgrades to help meet their final ammonia and residual chlorine limits,” while processing more than 6 million gallons of water . Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Unfortunately, with more than 10 breweries nearby, the wastewater generated further increased because beer waste is “rich in yeast, hops and sugar.” These contents are known to skew the microbial activity process that removes both nitrogen and phosphorus from the water as it is being treated. In short, if nitrogen and phosphorus are not removed before the treated water enters the drain-off into estuaries, then bacterial and algal blooms will arise. These unwanted blooms would disturb an estuary’s water chemistry enough to adversely affect the ecosystem. Engineering consultant Coralyn Revis offered a paradigm shift to solve the issue. “If we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” Revis said. “This is super-simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier.” Havre’s wastewater plant manager, Drue Newfield, sought Michael Garrity, Triple Dog Brewing Company’s owner, to source leftover barley for feeding the water treatment microbes. The spent barley was used as a substitute for the chemical alum, an aluminum-sulfate solution. The joint endeavor saved the community from investing an additional $1 million in upgrades to the water treatment plant. “To further enhance the biological phosphorus removal process, 10 gallons of waste barley mash from a local brewery gets added daily as an external source of carbon and volatile fatty acid supplement,” the EPA explained. “These improvements have allowed the facility to continuously meet all permit effluent limits and has significantly improved the operability, reliability and treatment capability of the facility. These upgrades have greatly improved the quality of wastewater effluent discharged to the Milk River, particularly with respect to nutrient levels and ammonia toxicity.” The endeavor has been federally acknowledged as a creative and successful example for integrating community involvement at solving water quality infrastructure challenges in four key areas: public health, economy, sustainability and innovation. Via NPR , Core77 and EPA Image via Manfred Richter

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Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

Why climate-saving investments in cold chain technologies are hot

January 15, 2020 by  
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As demand for safe food and vaccines explodes in emerging economies, growth in the market for environmentally safe refrigeration technologies is reaching the boiling point.

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Why climate-saving investments in cold chain technologies are hot

This year’s resolution: Fix the broken plastic material system

January 15, 2020 by  
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The momentum to stop plastic pollution continues to grow, so how do we channel it into real systems change?

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This year’s resolution: Fix the broken plastic material system

How 2019 laid the groundwork for change in the chemical industry

January 15, 2020 by  
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There’s a movement to regulate toxics such as Chlorpyrifos and PFAS.

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How 2019 laid the groundwork for change in the chemical industry

Climate change has led to more temperature inversions and the rise of ‘super pollution events’

January 15, 2020 by  
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This is why the air was unsafe to breathe and reeked of “hospital waste” in a Pennsylvania community in late December.

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Climate change has led to more temperature inversions and the rise of ‘super pollution events’

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