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|RCA Newsletter - August 2002||RCA-News archives|
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Magazine publishers and subscribers alike have a new tool in assessing a magazine's impact on forests. In an attempt to educate magazine publishers about their impact on the world's forests, the Magazine PAPER Project has released a web site that calculates the number of trees logged to print a particular magazine on non-recycled paper. The calculator, located at www.EcoPaperAction.org/wizard, found that Cosmopolitan uses 328,577 trees per year to produce its magazine from virgin paper. Sample calculations also showed that National Geographic which uses 10 percent post consumer content for its cover, saves 2,255 trees, but still consumes 505,819 trees per year. According to the Magazine PAPER Project, a coalition including Co-op America, Conservatree and the Independent Press Association, coated and uncoated paper containing 10-30 percent post-consumer recycled content offers the same performance at competitive prices as virgin paper.Back to Table Of Contents
A number of recent initiatives indicate a continued interest in the "biobased" movement. Biobased materials are receiving increased attention due to their environmentally preferable characteristics. They are typically less toxic and have the ability to biodegrade quickly in a compost. Although wood is sometimes included in the definition of "biobased," many efforts are focused on building markets for agriculture-based products. These products have the potential to be blended with recycled fibers to greatly substitute virgin wood in most applications (and wood is used in a dazzling array of products from foods to packaging to cars).
The Biobased Manufacturers Association (BMA) was recently launched which may aid purchasers in tracking down biobased products. The association's new website at www.biobased.org/association will disseminate the BMA newsletter and will host "live auctions" on selected product groups such as building panels.
Another boost came from the federal government. The new Federal Environmental Executive, John Howard has announced the priorities for the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE). Recycling, green procurement and green buildings were among the six priorities mentioned. According to the OFEE, new initiatives on buying biobased products will be offered. For more information see the "What's New" section of OFEE's website.
The inclusion of federal purchasing of biobased materials in the six priorities reflects the Farm Bill's mandate for the "Federal Procurement of Biobased Products," Sec. 9002, Title IX which passed this year. The legislation calls for federal agencies to give preference to products "composed of the highest percentage of biobased products practicable" which are available in a reasonable period of time, at a reasonable price and meet performance standards. For more information on the Farm Bill (particularly the downsides), see RCA-News' February 2002 feature article, "The Farm Bill--Its Not Just About Soybeans"
Meanwhile, on the state level, the California legislature recently passed a bill to conduct an economic feasibility study of alternative fibrous crops, such as industrial hemp, kenaf and flax -- all good wood replacements, according to an August 15, 2002 press release from California Assemblymember Strom-Martin's office. Plants such as industrial hemp have been advocated in numerous states where farmers are looking for alternatives to crops such as tobacco and sugar cane.
Corporations are getting in on the biobased act, particularly pursuing bioplastics. The August 2002 issue of the Green Business Letter feature article on bioplastics, "Easy Come, Easy Go?" reported that Mitsubishi Plastics introduced a vegetable starch packaging to be used in a Sony Walkman, while Toyota unveiled a concept car made of sweet potatoes, bamboo and flax. While these products decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and wood, much still needs to be worked out to ensure they can biodegrade quickly and safely in composts and that their manufacturing processes are clean and efficient. Another step forward in the corporate arena toward biobased is the re-opening of Agriboard Industries, headquartered in Fairfield, Iowa, according to "Agriboard is Back," Environmental Building News, Volume 11, Number 7/8, July/August, 2002 by Alex Wilson. The company is now a subsidiary of the Ryan Development Company and is in limited production of straw-based structural insulated panels (SIPs).
With all of this increased attention on the issue, the Journal of Industrial Ecology has issued a call for papers for a special edition on the environmental impact of biobased materials, including agricultural residues (the stalks that are left over once a crop is harvested) and crops grown intentionally for biobased products. The deadline for the papers which will all be peer reviewed is December 2, 2002. More information can be obtained at www.yale.edu/jie/cfpbiobased.htm.Back to Table Of Contents
a) Buying Recycled at the Office
b) Earth Summit Avoids Mountain of Trash
c) Taking Out the Trash at American Corporations
d) National Parks: Greening on the Inside
e) Agencies That "Green" Together, Stay Together
f) What Were You Doing in Middle School?
g) Meeting Our Needs
h) Forest Heroes Recognized
i) Mud Home
CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS
The University of Florida's Center for Construction and Environment is organizing the 11th Rinker International Conference on Deconstruction and Materials Reuse May 7-10, 2003 in Gainesville Florida. For more information, see www.cce.ufl.edu/rinker11.Back to Table Of Contents
RESOURCES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
EPA is unveiling a new database of vendors who comply with federal procurement requirements for recycled products. The database will make it easier for purchasers to find environmentally preferable products. The database includes suppliers for a wide range of recycled products, including paperboard, newsprint, pallets, tissue products, etc. Purchasers can search by category, product, material (including agricultural fiber) and/or state, To view the database, see www.epa.gov/cpg
The National Wildlife Federation and the National Association of Educational Buyers (NAEB) are hosting an on-line "green" purchasing course with presentations from Rutgers University and University of Colorado - Boulder officials. More information on the course can be viewed on their Driving Sustainable Marktes site.
The Development Center for Appropriate Technology (DCAT) has launched a new website at www.dcat.net. DCAT is an excellent resource for information on building codes and green buildings. Also, for more information on this topic, see RCA's policy paper, "How Building Codes Affect Sustainable Development" by Nicole Capretz.Back to Table Of Contents