Southern California environment news and trends

NBA tips off Green Week 2012

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers have a game scheduled at Staples Center during NBA Green Week.

The National Basketball Association and new presenting partner Sprint kicked off NBA Green Week 2012 today with Commissioner David Stern hosting a cell phone recycling event in New York.

It’s the latest initiative in the NBA’s ongoing push for sustainable lifestyle changes. As we reported back in February, the Association presented a big recycling program in Orlando around this year’s All-Star Game. For Green Week, the Natural Resources Defense Council comes aboard to assist with a series of new promotions going nationwide as well as online.

Among the rollout is new Facebook application “Unlimited Acts of Green,” which checklists a series of simple ways users can make more environmentally positive decisions in everyday life. For their part, Sprint is ramping up the company's efforts to promote cell phone recycling online and with live events in three cities, including Los Angeles.

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Why California recycles so few batteries

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Call2Recycle is a nonprofit company backed by the rechargeable battery industry that places boxes in stores to collect batteries, then picks up the cost of shipping the boxes to a recycling facility.

So, maybe it's not a shocker that stores don't want to pay to recycle batteries. People who buy batteries don't expect to pay again to recycle batteries either. But here's the trick: trashing batteries is illegal. California's Universal Waste Rule bans AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9-volts; rechargeables and alkalines, both. They contain copper, cadmium and lead.

It's not always easy to find places authorized to handle hazardous waste--the places batteries are supposed to go.  

The Department of Toxic Substances Control has a list of places statewide. But when I plugged in my zip code, it came up with only one place, and it only accepts CRTs (computer monitors). CalRecycle's upcoming collection events page stopped being updated five years ago. The City of LA's Department of Public Works offers permanent drop off sites in Glendale, San Pedro, Playa, Sun Valley, UCLA, and Washington at Santa Fe, south of downtown. The county offers one-day special collections. You can't say they're not trying. But I've never successfully made it to the one on Colorado near Glendale, my closest LA city site. 

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The future is now: reducing e-waste with self-repairing electronics

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On the verge of 2012, it’s easy to bemoan all the science fiction promises of the past that have yet to hit the general market: jet-packs, transporters, good General Tsao’s Chicken in Los Angeles — the list is endless.

What we did get where those fancy “communicators” that Mr. Spock used to talk to Captain Kirk on Star Trek, only we call them cell phones. It’s a technology we obviously can’t get enough of, with the endless variations of phones, tablets and other communication devices on the market.

The substantial and perpetually growing downside, though, are the landfills swelling with broken devices, many dead before their time. Which is where a team of scientists at the University of Illinois come in with a fix straight from the pages of a sci-fi novel.

With the idea being that a single burned-out circuit often fells devices, the team dreamed up a function that would both pinpoint and repair these failed conduits before we even realized that it happened.

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