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IBM announces new process to reuse, recycle silicon wafers for solar panels

Tech giant IBM announced it has developed a simple new process to recycle the silicon wafers it uses in many of its products. The process extends the silicon wafers' useful life, and when that life is finally over, the wafers can then be sold to make solar panels. IBM calculates that if all of the 3 million wafers discarded each year worldwide by the tech industry were instead turned into solar panels, they could create enough electricity to power about 6,000 homes.

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Umbra on corporate holiday cards

Dear Umbra, My company wants to send out holiday cards each year, but I find it wasteful, especially because of the increased transportation load on the post office. What could we do instead? Cindy Truckee, Calif. Dearest Cindy, A stumper. I can think of three choices: No cards, paper cards, and email cards. Is tradition stacked against you? Photo: churl Businesses send holiday cards to show appreciation, remind clients of their existence, and generally keep clients a-clienting, right? Replacing holiday cards with nothing at all does not help a business meet any of these goals, so I think we will …

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Trade consultancy: Whole Foods will ‘consolidate supply chains’

Apparently, I'm not the only one who worries about what the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger will mean for organic-foods suppliers. In a report published by Organic Monitor, a European-based consultancy working on contract for Decision News Media, analyst Amarjit Sahota has sounded an alarm about Whole Foods' growing power. Organic Monitor calls itself a "business research & consulting company that specializes on organic & related industries." You can read Sahota's full analysis here on the Decision News site, but here is some of what he had to say: Following the approval of its acquisition of rival Wild Oats, Whole Foods …

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Forest Stewardship Council will overhaul too-lax rules

Ooh, bummer: The Forest Stewardship Council, trusted certifier of sustainably sourced wood and paper, plans to overhaul its standards after acknowledging that some companies using its label are logging destructively.

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On those quotes in Businessweek’s ‘Little Green Lies’

This post is by guest blogger Auden Schendler, executive director for Community and Environmental Responsibility at the Aspen Skiing Company. Named a "Climate Crusader" in Time magazine's 2006 special issue on climate change, Auden once worked for Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute. You can read his full bio here. Auden has unique insights into the difficulties of corporate sustainability in the absence of government leadership and a price for carbon. ----- Recently, Businessweek covered Aspen Skiing Company's work on emissions reduction as part of an article titled "Little Green Lies." The article has received considerable coverage in the …

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Me in Fast Company

I don't think I've mentioned it here, but I've got a monthly column on green business in the print edition of Fast Company. I wasn't sure whether they put it up for free online, but it appears they do: my column from the November edition is right here. It is a piece of craven corporatist capitulating to The Man, by which I mean it's a qualified defense of carbon offsets. Give 'er a read.

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U.S. investors make a killing off of Chinese coal

China's vast coal industry: Where would we be without it? Cheap Chinese coal keeps consumer-goods prices low, allowing us to consume like mad even as crude-oil prices skyrocket. It's also returning handsome profits to U.S. investors. Take it away, Associated Press: As China's appetite for coal is booming, American investors and businesses are cashing in. American pension and mutual fund money is being invested in the Chinese coal industry, which is lucrative but in general has a poor record for pollution and worker safety. <br The biggest Chinese coal company is China Shenhua Energy Co. of Beijing, which produces about …

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WSJ produces special environment report

The Wall Street Journal has a special environment report today, leading with an overview of the business end of the current rush to go green. With additional articles covering home energy-efficiency audits, hybrid economics, green building, and more, the whole package is worth a look.

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Automakers debate skipping directly to full-electric cars

Ah, finally! The argument surfacing among auto-industry leaders gathering for the Tokyo Motor Show this week is over whether it is time to skip past partial electrification of cars -- represented by gasoline-electric hybrids such as the Toyota Prius -- and push instead to revive the idea of an all-electric car. On one side are Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. Both have played down all-electric cars in favor of developing gasoline-electric hybrids, though they disagree on the best technology and how quickly it can be implemented. On the other side are two allied car makers, France's Renault SA …

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California air regulators adopt emissions-tackling rules

As part of its groundbreaking plan to tackle air-polluting, climate-warming emissions, the California Air Resources Board has adopted six new rules for manufacturers, shippers, and truckers. Starting in 2010, vehicles that go in for a tune up or oil change will be required to fully inflate their tires; trucks and trailers must be fitted with fuel-saving devices; cargo ships will be disallowed from idling at ports; the chemical sulfur hexafluoride will be banned; and both the greenhouse gas perfluorocarbon and propellants in spray cans will be more strictly regulated. The board also adopted standards for using California's forests to offset …