Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Who knew, right-?  But today is not just Presidents’ Day, it’s also National Battery Day!  And to celebrate (Battery Day, that is) the US DOE announced the opening of a Battery Recycling Center at Argonne National Laboratory.  The new Center will work to reclaim and recycle critical materials (e.g., cobalt and lithium) from lithium-based battery technology.  It will focus on cost-effective recycling processes to recover as much economic value as possible from spent lithium-ion batteries.  In addition, DOE established the “Lithium-Ion Battery Recycling Prize” to encourage American entrepreneurs to “find innovative solutions to collecting, storing, and transporting discarded lithium-ion batteries for eventual recycling.”  DOE’s cash prizes will total $5.5 million, awarded in three progressive phases designed to accelerate the development of solutions from concept to prototype.  The goal is to develop technologies to profitably capture 90% of all lithium-based battery technologies in the United States and recover 90% of the key materials from the collected batteries. Currently, lithium-ion batteries are collected and recycled at a rate of less than 5%.
*  News-speak from the boss, i.e. CT’s new Governor, Ned Lamont, who has an op-ed in CT papers called “A path forward on tolling.”  Maybe it should be titled “A path forward on trolling, about tolling” since it’s really a heads-up to legislators and citizens that the Guv is getting ready to ask for more money for transportation, most of which, likely, will go for highways.  Lamont writes that CT has it all (at least “on paper,” his words) but that economic development peeps ask: “What about the congestion on your highways?”  Lamont writes that gas tax revenues are flat and unreliable and likely to decline as electric cars increase.  The governor is turning away from bonds.  So watch for tolls – first on trucks, if that single focus is legal, then to benefit specific infrastructure, e.g., bridges, or one bridge.  He’s developed a number of options and tells peeps to be ready for this debate when his budget is introduced on Wednesday.

*  If you’re feeling bad that about 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans each year (who doesn’t feel bad about that?), here’s a chance to help. A company called Envision Plastics collects and recycles this waste.  Ocean plastic waste can be recycled just as land-based plastic can be recycled.  If you want to make a statement (and a good one) consider this new upcoming product: business cards made from the recovered plastic.  (China, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka are the five largest plastic polluters, according to Envision Plastics.)  Now the company is teaming up with the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) to promote this business-based recycling effort.  To place an order for these multi-message business cards, contact Envision Plastics (advise if you need that link.)

Tom Ewing

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