Sustainability2014, 6(12), 9510-9537; doi:10.3390/su6129510 (registering DOI) - published 19 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Since the report “Our Common Future” launched sustainable development as a primary goal for society in 1987, both scientific and political discussions about the term’s definition and how to achieve sustainable development have ensued. The manifold negative environmental impacts of transportation are an important contributor to the so-far non-sustainable development in financially rich areas of the world. Thus, achieving sustainable mobility is crucial to achieving the wider challenge of sustainable development. In this article, we limit our sustainability focus to that of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We discuss whether rebound effects can reveal why sustainable mobility has not been reached. Rebound effects refer to behavioral or other systemic responses after the implementation of new technologies or other measures to reduce energy consumption. Three main strategies exist for achieving sustainable mobility: efficiency, substitution, and volume reduction. (1) The efficiency strategy is based on the idea that environmental problems caused by transport can be improved by developing new and more efficient technologies to replace old, inefficient, and polluting materials and methods; (2) The second strategy—substitution—argues for a change to less polluting means of transport; (3) The volume reduction strategy argue that efficiency and substitution are not sufficient, we must fundamentally change behavior and consumption patterns; people must travel less, and freight volumes must decrease. We found rebound effects associated with all three of the main strategies that will lead to offsetting expected savings in energy use and GHG emissions in the transport sector.
Sustainability2014, 6(12), 9494-9509; doi:10.3390/su6129494 (registering DOI) - published 19 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The objective of the study is to analyze if there is a relationship between health and environmental sustainability concerns in food choices. We used data of 300 Italian consumers collected through a vis-à-vis survey. We performed cross-tabulations and chi-square tests for a selected set of variables measuring both types of concerns, segmenting the sample by age, gender and education. Our results suggest that the association between health and environmental concerns is often statistically significant, though we observe a high variable specificity of the associations. Socio-demographic conditions seem to play a role in determining the association between the two concerns, with middle-aged and/or highly-educated respondents showing a stronger association between health and environmental concerns.
Sustainability2014, 6(12), 9477-9493; doi:10.3390/su6129477 - published 18 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The implementation of European policies on environmental protection is enforcing some substantial modifications in the processing methods and technologies traditionally adopted in the alumina industry and, in particular, in the management of the alumina residue produced. The article analyses the evolution of the alumina production and the residue disposal practices in Western Europe. Some critical aspects regarding the legal implementation of the EU Directive on the landfill of waste are highlighted and discussed. With reference to the requirements established for the landfill of non-hazardous waste, a key point is represented by the possibility of reducing the deposit protection measures if the collection and treatment of leachate is not necessary. The flexibility introduced by the Directive is not incorporated into the Italian law; this fact may represent a major issue in the prospect of disposal conversion from wet to dry methods for companies operating in Italy, as it may endanger the economic sustainability of the plants’ upgrade, as well as the opportunity to attract outside investments.
Sustainability2014, 6(12), 9456-9476; doi:10.3390/su6129456 - published 18 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Since 2012 the anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) movement has gained significant grassroots momentum in its efforts to require mandatory GMO food labels through state-level ballot and legislative efforts. Major food and agriculture corporations are opposed to mandatory GMO labels and have successfully defeated most of these initiatives. Nevertheless, these battles have garnered significant media attention and re-energized the debate over GMO crops and foods. In this paper, we argue that one of the most significant outcomes of this fight is efforts by food retailers and value-based food companies to implement voluntary non-GMO labels and brands. We draw on the governance and political consumerism literature to explore (counter) movement efforts for mandatory labels and how these efforts are being institutionalized through private voluntary governance institutions. Our assessment is based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with key informants from consumer and environmental organizations, agriculture and biotech companies, and government regulatory agencies, as well as a content analysis of food industry websites. A growing number of food retailers recognize the reputational and economic value that new niche markets for non-GMO foods can offer, while the anti-GMO movement views these efforts as a step in the direction of mandatory GMO labels. We conclude that voluntary labels may act to settle the labeling debate by mollifying agri-food industry concerns about mandatory labeling and meeting the desire of political consumers for greater choice and transparency but without addressing the broader social and environmental sustainability concerns that drives the anti-GMO movement in the first place.
Sustainability2014, 6(12), 9441-9455; doi:10.3390/su6129441 - published 18 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A location-aware service (LAS) is an imperative topic in ambient intelligence; an LAS recommends suitable utilities to a user based on the user’s location and context. However, current LASs have several problems, and most of these services do not last. This study proposes an optimization-based approach for enhancing the sustainability of an LAS. In this paper, problems related to optimizing a LAS system are presented. The distinct nature of a LAS optimization problem in comparison with traditional optimization problems is subsequently described. Existing methods applicable to solving a LAS optimization problem are also reviewed. The advantages and disadvantages of each method are then discussed as a motive for combining multiple optimization methods in this study, as illustrated by an example. Finally, opportunities and challenges faced by researchers in this field are presented.
Sustainability2014, 6(12), 9428-9440; doi:10.3390/su6129428 - published 17 December 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Interdisciplinary sustainability science teamwork skills are essential for addressing the world’s most pressing and complex sustainability problems, which inherently have social, natural, and engineering science dimensions. Further, because sustainability science problems exist at global scales, interdisciplinary science teams will need to consist of international members who communicate and work together effectively. Students trained in international interdisciplinary science skills will be able to hit the ground running when they obtain jobs requiring them to tackle sustainability problems. While many universities now have sustainability science programs, few offer courses that are interdisciplinary and international in scope. In the fall semester of 2013, we piloted a course for graduate students entitled “Principles of Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research” at Michigan Technological University. This course was part of our United States National Science Foundation Partnerships in International Research and Education project on bioenergy development impacts across the Americas. In this case study, we describe the course development and implementation, share critical insights from our experience teaching the course and student learning outcomes, and give recommendations for future similar courses.