Economy

Brad Waltz: Plastic bags best for convenience … and the environment

It seems counterintuitive to suggest that plastic bags are the least bad option, environmentally speaking, for getting groceries home, but it is indeed the case and as someone that cares about convenience AND the environment, I hope to convince you of that.  Paper and cotton bags must be more environmentally friendly than plastic. No. University of Oregon Chemistry Professor, David Tyler had this to say in a 2012 interview. “There are really good things about plastic bags—they produce less greenhouse gas, they use less water and they use far fewer chemicals compared to paper or cotton. The carbon footprint, that is, the amount of greenhouse gas that is produced during the life cycle of a plastic bag, is less than that of a paper bag or a cotton tote bag. If the most important environmental impact you wanted to alleviate was global warming, then you would go with plastic.” How can that be, paper bags can be recycled and that’s good for the environment, and if they do make it to the landfill they are far more environmentally friendly than plastic. Wrong on both counts. Again it seems counterintuitive but making paper AND plastic bags from raw materials is still more environmentally friendly than recycling is, in the case of the plastic bags, Dr Tyler says, “The petroleum industry doesn’t waste anything”. The paper bags that do make it to the landfill take up ten times the space as their plastic counterparts and do not degrade any quicker.  I’m not convinced Brad, the cotton totes have to be environmentally friendly. No. The cotton that is used in cotton bags uses 25% of the pesticides used in the US and huge amounts of water. The UK Environmental Agency found that a cotton bag would need to be used 173 times to have a lower environmental impact than one single use bag. Between the irrigation needed to grow cotton and the water necessary to clean it as suggested by the US Department of Health, the use of water far exceeds that of single use plastic!  If followed rigorously The Reason Foundation noted 40 times more water just to clean them as recommended than is used in the manufacture of the plastic bags. If “single use” plastic bags were banned obviously less plastic would make into the landfill. Again the answer is no. When in 2011 Australia banned plastic shopping bags they reportedly noted a 36% drop in plastic shopping bags reaching the landfill. The report however went on to say this was offset by heavier, thicker purchased plastic bags which take up more landfill space than those that were banned. Single use plastic bag bans harm the poor the most. It should go without saying, every dollar spent on bags to transport groceries is one less dollar available to purchase groceries.  And lastly, these bags are not just single use bags. They are reused in many ways, they are used to pick up dog poop, used for cleaning a cat’s litter box, as bathroom trash can liners, to dispose of meat scraps, to clean out vehicles, they’re reused in many ways and absent the availability of them, homeowners and consumers will need to purchase true, single use bags. If the outcome of legislation matters and not the intentions, it is vital that evidence based facts be used, not emotion based do something-ism. Facts matter in legislation, facts matter in environmentalism, facts matter, and in the case of, “to ban or not to ban”, the facts clearly state, so called “single use” plastic bags should not be banned! It doesn’t seem like the right thing to do is nothing,…

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Libraries create millions in value for their communities

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The libraries in Wood County generated $35.5 million in economic value in 2017. Wood County District Public Library Director Michael Penrod presented those figures to trustees at their meeting Monday morning. That figure was a local update of a report originally commissioned by the Ohio Library Council in 2016. The update was done by Woodlink, which brings together the county’s the eight library systems. Those libraries provided just over $8 million worth of services in the year, and the direct return on investment was $3.44 for every dollar’s worth of services, or $27.7 million in direct return on investment. The multiplier reflects the impact of the money patrons save by using library services and how that flows through the economy. That brings the amount to $35.5 million. The report looks only at the impact of services provided, not money spent, such as salaries. The eight library systems in the county, in addition to Wood County District, which has a branch in Walbridge, are: Pemberville Public, which operates branches in Luckey and Stony Ridge; Kaubisch Memorial in Fostoria; North Baltimore Public; Rossford Public; Way Public in Perrysburg; and Weston, which operates a branch in Grand Rapids. Penrod said it is important that the library seek donations as well as tax dollars. The Library Foundation provides a large financial boost with the money it raises at a summer benefit held at Schedel Arboretum & Gardens. Penrod encouraged the trustees to promote the event in the community. The 10th Annual Library Benefit will be held Thursday, July 19. Tickets are $100. Last year it raised $100,000. That money is used to purchase books – in all forms, Penrod said. He said that the money does not replace money from the state or raised by the library’s levy, but supplements those dollars, allowing the library to spend more than the average amount on materials. The event features a live and silent auction. It is not, Penrod said, an event where people come expecting to find a bargain at auction, but rather expect to pay a premium as a way to show their support for the library. Trustees John Fawcett said he’ heard from a couple people that they wished there were lesser priced fundraising options included, such as a lottery where everyone who buys a ticket has an equal chance. Board President Brian Paskvan said that could be taken under advisement for next year. Also Penrod said that he’s seen no noticeable change in the state support checks, he’s received. The state support for public libraries is based on a percentage of tax receipts, and those have been increasing.


Project Connect holds kickoff meeting June 7

From PROJECT CONNECT WOOD COUNTY Community members and local organizations are joining together again to plan for the sixth annual Project Connect Wood County. On Thursday, June 7, event planners and interested community members will meet at 8 a..m at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church for breakfast and the start of the new planning year. It will be a time to highlight goals for the upcoming event, showcase past results, and recruit new community volunteers. A dedicated team of volunteers from the community, churches, and social service agencies are organizing Project Connect, which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 17 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 315 S. College Dr., Bowling Green. The event provides a broad range of free services to families and individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness or poverty. The Wood County Continuum of Care Coalition began holding what was then called Project Homeless Connect in 2013. Since that time, hundreds of people in Wood County have received critically-needed services, and many others have been impacted through volunteerism. Commissioner Doris Herringshaw will again serve as the event’s Honorary Chairperson. For more information and continuing updates, visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectConnectWoodCounty.


Money on a mission: Values-based investment pays off

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Companies that pursue policies that help the environment can also help investors’ bottom-line. That’s the foundation of the strategy of Terra Alpha Investment, said Amy Dine, director of advocacy for the company. Dine served as keynote speaker at a Socially Responsible Investing Workshop held Tuesday at Bowling Green State University. Formed three years ago, Terra Alpha Investments uses measures of  environmental productivity to determine which companies it will invest in. This approach is not “a niche,” Dine said, nor a fad. Sustainable investing, she said, represented about 20 percent of all professionally managed funds in 2016, about $8.72 trillion. That’s up, she said, by 33 percent, from 2014, and expected to grow when 2018 figures are reported. Investor putting their money where their values are, is not a new approach, Dine said. It began with investors who wanted to invest their money in companies that aligned with their religious faith, or at least, disinvest from tobacco, liquor, and other “sin”-related firms. That approach, Dine said, foundered some because the returns did not match the market. Still faith-based investing remains strong. The BGSU workshop was co-sponsored by Munn Wealth Management, a Maumee firm heavily engaged in faith-based investing. The second wave of values-based investment was prompted, Dine said, by activists in the 1970s and 1980s, looking for ways to protest apartheid in South Africa, industrial disasters including the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and the chemical release at Bhopal, India, as well as domestic concerns such as brownfield sites. These activists saw having proxy votes as a way to sway corporate behavior. Now the third way uses corporate practices to decide which companies to invest in. This is more than protest, but a realization that those companies paying attention to how they use natural resources, that are diligent about the treatment of those in their supply chain, and that govern in a transparent and for long-term success are just better companies, she said. Chemistry Professor Neocles Leontis, one of those who organized the session, introduced Dine by saying when the coral reef is dying in the south and ice is melting in the far north, these are issues investors need to be paying attention to. Dine said this does not mean only new, cutting edge companies get supported. General Motors is developing a landfill-free plant, where everything is reused or recycled, saving $1 billion in the process. Adidas has a shoe that is made with 95-percent recycled plastic pulled from the sea around the Maldives. FedEx has redesigned its airplanes to make them morefuelefficient, and also made improvements to its truck fleet. It saved $840 million a year. And Starbucks, a company now embroiled in charges stemming from the arrest of two African-American men, just days before that incident had promised to develop a completely recyclable cup and get rid of plastic stirrers. Now, Dine said, about 2,200 publicly listed companies report on their environmental impact, giving investors the information they need. That’s a start, she said, given there are 7,000 publicly listed companies. More changes are in store, Dine said. Social media has become “a weapon of choice” is sounding off against corporate policies. She noted how quickly Dick’s and Walmart acted to stop selling some weapons after the Parkview school shooting. Millennials are more driven by their values. “They don’t buy from companies they don’t like. They won’t work for a company if they’re not proud of what it does.” Following her talk, Dine joined Darren Munn, of Camelot Portfolios which is a sister company to Munn Wealth Management, and Robert Huesman, a senior…


BG sees big investments by local manufacturers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Steel on the skyline is a beautiful site to Bowling Green officials. “If you drive around, you can see steel going up in a number of places,” said Sue Clark, executive director of Bowling Green Economic Development. “That’s exciting for those of us in economic development.” Clark gave her annual report during last week’s meeting of city and business leaders. Bowling Green added new acreage to Wood Bridge Business Park, plus will be adding a much needed second entrance and exit to the park, this one on Bowling Green Road East. The 100-plus acres added to the business park was the result of teamwork by the city, Wood County, Wood County Port Authority, JobsOhio, Ohio Department of Transportation, and the Bowling Green City Schools. “These entities pulled together to get things going in record time,” Clark said. In 2017, the city saw its manufacturers invest $48 million in new equipment, and $8 million in construction. “This is a signal to us that our economy here is strong,” Clark said. The city’s manufacturers employ 4,125 full-time workers, and another 75 part-time employees. And half of the 40 companies that responded to a city survey said they have plans to add employees in 2018. However, with many companies hiring, the pool of employees to choose from is a problem, Clark said. “Workforce continues to be a pressing issue,” she said. “We must continue to be innovative in attracting new businesses and persistent in keeping them.” Some of Bowling Green’s economic development highlights last year included: Apio Inc., formerly Greenline, purchased eight acres in Innovative Tech Park to build a 20,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse. This will free-up production space at their current facility on South Dixie Highway, plus add another 30 jobs. The city and BG Economic Development entered into an agreement with Dick Carpenter for 60 acres adjacent to Wood Bridge Business Park, with the goal of expanding the park. A 200,000-square-foot warehouse is being built by Mosser Construction for Ohio Logistics, which is planning 40 acres of new warehousing. A road is being added in the business park to allow entrance and exits on Bowling Green Road East. Penta Career Center purchased two acres in Bellard Business Park and is building a school-to-work training center for high school students. The British company MICC moved into 45,000 square feet in an existing building on Van Camp Road. The largest solar field in Ohio started operation north of the city last year. The first “Manufacturers’ Day” was hosted at Bowling Green Middle School. Absorbent Products Co. was purchased by Principle Business Enterprises. This will allow PBE to increase production, add additional products to the line, and strengthen its position in the marketplace. TH Plastics, an injection molding company that produces items for Whirlpool, added 100,000 square feet of space for more warehousing and production. Environmental Recycling, now known as ERG, has purchased the former Sandusky Electric building in Wood Bridge Business Park. Clark also noted the closing of two long-time Bowling Green businesses last year. Milligan Workshops ceased operations due to the retirement of the owner. And Ironhead, a tire retreading operation, shut down due to the change in direction from the corporate office. Bowling Green manufacturers made an investment of nearly $48 million last year in new equipment. They also added a total of 134,000 square feet, costing another $8.3 million. Following is a list of Bowling Green companies that made investments in their businesses last year. Most were investments in equipment. Absorbent Products, $100,000. Apio Inc., $1 million. Betco Corporation, $4.5 million. Biofit, $437,994….


Earth Week speaker: People favor protections, but not if labeled ‘job-killing regulations’

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lana Pollack got her first taste of government regulation, or protection as she prefers to call it, when she was a girl watching beef being butchered. As the Lamb Peace lecturer, Pollack, who chairs the U.S. section, International Joint Commission, kicked off Earth Week at Bowling Green State University posing the question: “If protections are good, why are regulations bad?” Certainly her father who ran a grocery store and butcher shop in rural western Michigan didn’t appreciate the state inspector who stood by while he and his help processed a beef carcass. Her father, Pollack said, was the kind of person who fed a lot of people whether they could pay their bills or not. Once a week he’d go to the cattle auction and buy a couple steers, which he’d bring back. Pollack said she went along, and watched the processing. “I know where my meat comes from.” She could see her father was “aggravated” by the inspector and his seemingly petty demands. In his later years, his daughter asked him if the state regulations made his ground beef or hot dogs any better. No, he said. “But it kept the guy down the road from adding sawdust to his hot dogs.” The consumer wasn’t protected from an ethical business like the one her father ran, but from the unethical ‘guy down the road.” That holds true for the environment as well, including the Great Lakes. That’s why the EPA is the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Environmental Regulatory Agency. People like “protection,” she said. They think far less of regulations, especially when they are so constantly referred to as “job-killing regulations.” That phrase is tossed around so much that it almost becomes one word. It’s a favorite of conservative lobbying efforts like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “Words matter,” Pollack said. It’s not like businesses, including agribusiness, are opposed to government action, she said. They’re fine with it as long as it benefits them. While agribusiness may fight rules aimed at controlling the run-off of phosphorus from fields that causes toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, farm interests back federal government support for ethanol production, Pollack said. Now 40 percent of corn on 7 million acres of heavily fertilized cropland is grown for fuel. Taking action to combat pollution of the Great Lakes is a complex issue that involves understanding the science, as well as the cultural and political context. Pollack, who served in the Michigan State Senate from 1984 to 1993, describes herself as “a recovering politician.” At her lecture she showed two photos of the Cuyahoga River on fire, one from 1952 and the other from 1969. No action was taken in 1952 in the years of complacency after World War II. But the 1960s was a “time of social revolution” and “progressive change.” The burning river caught the public’s attention. Action was taken. Citizens agitated for environmental protections That action had beneficial effects. It dramatically reduced the amount of PCPs going into the Great Lakes. And it reduced the amount of phosphorus going into the lakes. That came by the removal of phosphorus, which promote algae growth, from washing detergents and commercial lawn care products. And it came from billions being invested into water treatment systems – which are now aging, she noted. But federal action also did harm. The Clean Water Act, for example, exempted “nonpoint pollution,” that is runoff that cannot be traced to a specific source. That means farmland. Even now, Pollack said, officials are not allowed to determine “hot spots” on fields that generate more…


Automation & robotics focus of State of Region Conference

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS As online ordering giant Amazon adds automated fulfillment centers around the country and fast-food restaurants pilot automated ordering kiosks, questions arise about the impact on jobs and employment. Will more people or fewer be needed, and will robots take over roles usually held by humans in an increasingly automated workplace? The Center for Regional Development (CRD) at Bowling Green State University will address these concerns at the 16th annual State of the Region Conference Monday, April 16. This year’s theme is “The Implications of Automation for Economic Development” and features speakers from Amazon, APT Manufacturing Solutions, SpinGlass and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. The conference runs from 8 a.m. to noon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Levis Commons, Perrysburg. Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green) will give opening remarks at 9 a.m. following breakfast and networking. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Register at bgsu.edu/crd. The 2018 conference will provide an overview of economic conditions in the region as well as data and analytics on the current workforce in northwest Ohio. It will also provide insights to economic development and elected officials in northwest Ohio about the impact of automation on workforce development efforts. “Our goal with the State of the Region conference is to highlight the critical economic issues facing our region today and in the future,” said Will Burns, CRD interim director. “Increased automation in our lives and work environments has potentially paradigm-shifting consequences for the future of work in our nation and region,” said Dr. Russell Mills, CRD Research Fellow. Giving the State of the Region address will be Guhan Venkatu, group vice president in the Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He leads the department’s regional analysis and outreach group. Venkatu joined the bank in 1998 as a research analyst and has held positions of increasing responsibility, including economist and vice president and senior regional officer of the bank’s Pittsburgh branch. Dr. Eric Daimler, an artificial intelligence expert and CEO of SpinGlass, will deliver the keynote address. A leading authority in robotics and artificial intelligence with over 20 years of experience in the field as an entrepreneur, investor, academic and policymaker, he most recently became co-founder and CEO of SpinGlass, a multi-tiered investment platform for fueling the development and adoption of emerging robotics and AI technology. SpinGlass creates, acquires and applies modern digital technologies, including robotics and AI, to industries traditionally slow to adopt them. Daimler earlier co-founded six technology companies that have done pioneering work in fields ranging from storage software systems to statistical arbitrage. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Your Augmented Future,” a guidebook for entrepreneurs, engineers, policymakers and citizens on how to understand — and benefit from — the unfolding revolution in robotics and AI. A frequent speaker, lecturer and commentator, he works to empower communities and citizens to leverage robotics and AI for a more sustainable, secure and prosperous future. As a Presidential Innovation Fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama Administration, Daimler helped drive the agenda for U.S. leadership in research, commercialization and public adoption of robotics and AI. He has also served as Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor of Software Engineering in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science. His academic research focuses on the intersection of machine learning, computational linguistics and network science. He helped launch Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley Campus, and founded its Entrepreneurial Management program. A panel discussion on “Business Perspectives on the Scope and Impact of Automation” will round out the conference. Moderated by David J. Robinson, principal in The…