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February Upfront News & Views

February Upfront News & Views

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    To locate a plastic bag recycling program in your community, visit www.plasticbagrecycling.org. To learn more about promoting in-store recycling programs, visit the American Chemistry Council's Progressive Bag Affiliates at www.americanchemistry.com.

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    The city of Portage, Mich., is looking for the best possible solution for cleaning a large-diameter culvert with difficult access at both ends. Photo: City of Portage, Mich.

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    Bret Hodne, acting director/superintendent of the West Des Moines Department of Public Works, spearheaded a project to build a regional salt storage facility. Photo: Bret Hodne

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    The Highway Trust Fund collected $3 billion less last year than in 2007 for total receipts of $31 billion. Federal transportation spending for 2008 rose by $2 billion.

Des Moines uses one building; West Des Moines, Clive, Grimes, Waukee, Windsor Heights, Johnston, Pleasant Hill, and Urbandale share a second, larger building.

Miami selects waterworks building designDesign & construction

A design competition to turn this pump station into an educational facility on water conservation drew 144 submissions from architects as far away as Brazil, Finland, and South Korea. But an American — Helen Pierce of San Antonio — took home the prize. Sponsored by the Miami Downtown Development Authority, the search was part of the city's plan to transform an existing park into a museum campus.

Federal funding on the line as driving hits all-time lowResearch

Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles between November 2007 and October 2008 than the same period a year earlier, the longest continuous decline in history, prompting former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to issue a warning about the long-time viability of the gas tax as a funding mechanism.

“The fact that the trend persists even as gas prices are dropping confirms that travel habits are fundamentally changing,” she says. “The way we finance our transportation network must change to address this new reality, because banking on the gas tax is no longer a sustainable option.”

October statistics show that the South Atlantic region — a bloc of eight states and Washington, D.C. — experienced the biggest decline of any region with 5% fewer vehicle miles traveled compared to the previous October. At 8.4%, Montana led the nation with the largest single-state decline that month. Utah and South Carolina followed with declines of 7.4% and 6.7%, respectively.

Solid waste byproduct fights climate changeResources

The EPA has recognized seven Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) projects during its 12th annual conference on the program. Through LMOP, the agency has helped develop 360 of the nation's 470 methane-capture-and-reuse facilities, which collectively generate enough electricity to power 915,000 homes annually.

“Our award winners demonstrate that through partnerships and innovation we can transform waste into environmental wealth,” says Robert Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

The list of winning projects, industry partners, and community partners includes the Seward County Landfill in Kansas, Lansing Board of Water and Light in Michigan, and Greenville County in South Carolina.

The EPA estimates that 520 additional landfills represent attractive opportunities for such projects.

California mercury law loomsRules & regulations

Beginning in July, manufacturers and brand owners operating in the state must begin collecting and recycling mercury-added thermostats.

The law stems from the Extended Producer Responsibility System adopted by the California Integrated Waste Management Board in January 2008. In addition to public education, it requires manufacturers to determine the amount of mercury-added thermostats in use two years after the state banned their sale.