07 June 2010

Getting the lead out, bad news on particulates, and other green news for business

Top Stories

US: Retailers to limit lead in handbags and shoes.reliability medium.
"More than 40 major apparel retailers and vendors, including Macy's, Sears/Kmart, Target, Kohl's, JC Penney, Guess, Victoria's Secret and Saks have agreed to set new industry-wide standards limiting lead in handbags and other fashion products including footwear. The pledge comes as part of a $1.7m legal settlement with the Oakland, California-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH). ... while federal law requires that materials in products for children contain no more than 300 parts per million (ppm) of lead, there is no federal standard for lead in purses. Under the agreement, ... the settling companies have agreed to apply new standards for materials used in handbags and accessories by 1 December 2010. And many have extended the standards to belts and/or footwear too." Lists the 43 companies bound by the agreement. Story in just-style. [This is how standards can be set in the U.S. Not by government regulation but by agreement among industry participants and pressure groups, enforced by court judgments.]

Companies Lack Green Metrics.reliability high.
"The survey found that, although C-level executives considered environmental metrics to be important in the three regions they tested (82 percent of participants in Scandinavia, 79 percent in Benelux, 83 percent in the U.S.), around three quarters of companies in Benelux and Scandinavia (75 percent and 74 percent respectively) lack the functionality to monitor the environmental impact in their current systems. Meanwhile, in the U.S., almost half (47 percent) lacked appropriate functionality." See Environmental Leader. PDF of executive summary here.

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

BP disaster raises oil industry's insurance costs.reliability high.
"The insurance industry, reeling from losses estimated at between $1.4bn and $3.5bn (£2.4bn) caused by the disaster, has been quick to raise its prices. Deepwater Horizon is the largest single oil drilling rig loss since the 1988 Piper Alpha platform explosion in the North Sea, which triggered $3.6bn of insured losses (in 2009 dollars). ... The agency said early reports indicated that insurance premiums for deepwater rigs have jumped by up to 50% since the 22 April explosion, while the cost of insuring rigs operating in shallow waters has climbed by 15-25%." Story in The Guardian. [The insured loss for Deepwater Horizon would be higher but that BP self-insured rather than buying commercial insurance. Oil will cost a bit more.]

Enterprise's '20/20 Vision' Plan Aims to See $50M in Energy Savings.reliability high.
"Car rental giant Enterprise Holdings unveiled a new sustainability initiative Thursday aimed at reducing energy costs by $50 million. The initiative, called 20/20 Vision, seeks to reduce energy consumption and costs by 20 percent over the next five years at the company's vast network of neighborhood car rental branches and airport facilities." From Greener World Media.

Government and Regulation

Environment Agency bans short-haul flights for staff.reliability high.
"The [UK] Environment Agency has become the first government-backed body to effectively ban staff from taking domestic and short-haul flights wherever there is a lower-carbon alternative. The agency said it has already reduced business car mileage by 24 per cent over the past four years, but has now moved to beef up its green travel policy by barring staff from taking flights within England and Wales, or to destinations in Northern Europe served by Eurostar. The policy, which came into effect from the start of June, is expected to cut the agency's annual carbon emissions by about 30 tonnes a year." From BusinessGreen.

BMC to Set up Two Water Recycle Plants within an Year.reliability medium.
"within a year, Mumbai will be having two recycling plants. It is expected that the plants will help recycle 250 million litres of water every day. ... if the plan works in accordance with the expectations, and if the demand for recycled water is seen, the authorities will look forward to set up 'separate pipeline for supplying water to the end user'. It has been stated by the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority that if municipal bodies recycle sewage water and manage to make it suitable for irrigation or gardening, the tariff rates will be sliced 75% of the applicable tariffs." See Stock Watch.

Taiwan outlying islands to lead emissions cut effort.reliability high.
Taiwan "will invest heavily in wind power on the Penghu islands in the Taiwan Strait. The aim is to raise renewable energy production to half total consumption of the 90,000 population, officials said. On the Kinmen islets, also known as Quemoy, T$3 billion ($90 million) will be spent to develop solar power, recycle water and push eco-friendly architecture for the 70,000 people who live there, the Environmental Protection Administration said." Reuters story.

Science and Economics

Air pollution may help trigger cardiac arrest.reliability high.
"The dirtier the air, the more likely people are to suffer sudden cardiac arrest, new research from Australia shows. ... Airborne particles are harmful to people with existing health problems, the researchers add, but they could also trigger heart attack or even sudden death in people with no apparent symptoms of cardiovascular disease. ... 'the present study suggests an increase in the risk of cardiac effects at concentrations below the current air quality standards in Australia.'" See Reuters story. Abstract of paper here.

Toxic cities mock 'healthy' cycle riding.reliability high.
"a study has shown that people riding in cities inhale tens of millions of toxic nanoparticles with every breath, at least five times more than drivers or pedestrians." From The Sunday Times. Abstract of paper here. ["Define irony."]

[Crossposted from HaraBara.com courtesy of HaraBara, Inc. Copyright © 2010 HaraBara, Inc.]