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Top environment stories of 2011

This year has brought about interesting and even alarming environment stories. ABC has ranked the top ten stories of 2011, beginning with the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Take a moment and read through what ABC has decided are the most important highlights of this year.

Washington recycling more than ever

The Washington Department of Ecology has declared Washington to be recycling at its highest level ever, reaching 49% in 2010, reporting that the residents are recycling more, wasting and throwing away less. The total amount of municipal waste recycled by state residents increased by more than 540,000 tons in 2010; a 14 percent increase from 2009. Recycling in Washington State showed positive results in 2010. Last year, recycling materials instead of sending them to landfills helped them avoid emitting 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Also, recycling saved 160 trillion British Thermal Units (BTU’s) of energy which is equivalent to saving 1.3 billion gallons of gasoline.

Single-Stream Recycling

A report by NBC in Reno, NV reported that the city is working with a recycling company, Waste Management, to make recycling more convenient for residents and much more effective through what is called “Single-stream Recycling.” The proposed recycling program that will be aimed at regular residents involvement entails a two-bin system where trash is separated into recyclable or not. Waste Management implemented a pilot program with less than 900 homes in 2007-08 where recyclables were commingled and organic waste was separated; the resulted in doubling resident participation during those years.

Obama Announces Backing for Energy-Efficiency Initiative

Obama announced last week financial backing for initiatives to make government properties energy efficient and to create tens of thousands of jobs in the entire process. Former president Bill Clinton and President Obama joined forces to announce government and private-sector commitments to create jobs in this economy by motivating ecological movements within the government. President Obama said Congress should facilitate tax incentives for institutions that undertake energy-efficiency projects. The best part of this incentive is that it does not use a single penny from taxpayer’s money, yet it will lower energy use and ultimately benefit taxpayers.

Hybrid Car Lovers, You Are Now Safer From Injury in Crash

A research by The Highway Loss Data Institute studied 25 vehicles from 2003-2011 that featured both conventional and hybrid power trains. The conclusion was one more reason to love your hybrid cars! Besides providing fuel economy, these “green” models now offer you safety as well. The institute reported that the occupants in hybrid versions are 27% less likely to be injured in a crash, than those in the non-hybrid models. This, also, is good news to the insurance companies as the green machines need only 25 percent less personal injury protection than their conventional counterparts. Matt Moore, HLDI vice president, claims that the weight plays a critical role in this. Hybrid models on an average are 10% heavier than their standard counter parts. This extra beef gives hybrid models an advantage in crashes as the heavier cars usually transfer force to the lighter vehicles.