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The Current 2019 Q1

Welcome to The Current, 2019 - Q1 Edition

The circular economy: the phrase often conjures images of reusable grocery bags or trendy clothing made from recycled plastic bottles. But what about food scraps? How about solar panels and thermostats? This quarter, The Current takes a deeper look at the principles of "reduce, reuse, recycle". Our authors dive into the lifecycle of materials from food waste to solar panels and takes a careful look at what individuals, business, and government can do to reduce their impact and contribute to the circular economy.

Residential Composting Impact Computed

By Smita Chandra Thomas and Jennifer Jang

The average US household can have a significant impact on the environment by diverting food scraps alone from landfill to composting. By composting, four households could effectively remove a car from the roads. Eight households composting food scraps could offset an average home's electricity use per year.

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Solar PV Disposal Cost Projection

By Noah Schlosser

The number of solar panels manufactured and installed has grown exponentially since 2000. In the coming three decades, waste from retired solar panels will follow a similar growth trajectory. Global panel waste could reach 8 million tons by 2030 and 78 million tons by 2050. Landfilling solar panels poses an environmental risk, as heavy metals can leach from panel materials into the soil. Current research suggests proper recycling of panel materials is not cost-competitive versus using new materials. PV panel recycling programs that are cost-competitive and at a scale sufficient to handle the volumes of expected panel waste are needed to avoid these environmental risks from improper panel disposal.

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Plastic: Keeping It Out of Nature and In Circulation

By Rachel Goldstein

There have been no shortages of stories and images of plastic waste on land and in the oceans. While plastic waste isn't new, the 2015 Science publication of "Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean" significantly changed the external conversation. This study put a number to the litter we already knew was happening, and a cause. Eight million metric tons of plastic were entering the oceans, primarily due to poor waste management on land. The 2017 documentary Blue Planet II shifted the conversation even more by showing compelling imagery of marine life entangled in plastic pollution. The public now wants to know why plastic is getting into oceans, is not being recycled, or even if plastic is necessary.

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3 Ways to Save Money by Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

By Sarah Roth

THere's what we know: Americans use more energy than we need. Evidence of our excess can be found on our plates, in our homes, and in our choices. The U.S. outpaces the developed country average for waste generation by 41% and energy consumption by 65% (OECD and World Bank data). We waste an estimated $160 billion worth of food every year, a staggering amount that comes out of our own pockets.

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Stay Connected with WCEE!

Connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and by using #WCEE_DC to stay up to date about all our events and keep in touch with other WCEE members.

Write for The Current

The Current is looking for writers and editors for our issues throughout the year. The next issue will be coming out in summer of 2019. Interested in editing or have a story idea? Reach out to today!

WCEE is grateful to our Woman of the Year sponsors:

Platinum Sponsors
Reed Smith LLP  

Silver Sponsors
American Public Power Association
Crowell & Moring
Winston & Strawn LLP

Angel Sponsors
Booz Allen Hamilton 
CPS Energy

Sustaining Sponsors

Akin Gump 
Bracewell LLP 
Berkeley Research Group LLC 
Customized Energy Solutions 
ClearView Energy Partners LLC 
Edison Electric Institute
Thompson Coburn LLP 
Van Ness Feldman LLP 

Women in Leadership

Husch Blackwell LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
United States Energy Association

Special Event Sponsors
Edison Electric Institute
Southern Co.


The Current Team

Marketing and Communications Section Chair:
Kate Courtin

Managing Editor:
Jake Shimkus

Marketing and Communications Section Members:
Molly Bauch, Olga Chistyakova, Mary Fay, Meghan Gross, Jennifer Saunders, Jessie Stolark, Doreen Wong

Copyright 2019 WCEE. Reproduction of material from The Current without permission is strictly prohibited.
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