By Gina Coplon-Newfield
If you're looking high and low for a new set of wheels, now is the perfect time to go electric. With "group buy" discounts, many people are eligible for incredible price incentives to help make the switch from dirty gasoline-fueled cars toward cleaner, electric vehicles (EVs) an easy one. Residents in states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Colorado, Virginia and Maryland have access to EV discount programs offering shockingly high savings.
1 Million+ Electric Cars Are Now on the World’s Roads https://t.co/VTLRcbX1kI @chrispaine @CoolElectricCar— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1464999306.0
How does it work? Organizations or agencies collaborate with automakers and car dealerships to provide a "group buy" discount, which offers the auto dealers greater assurance that people will look to them for their EV shopping. Most of these discounts are for thousands of dollars off the price of a car. And indeed, all of these group buy EV discount programs are on top of the federal tax credit people can receive of up to $7,500 on an EV purchase and a rebate or tax credit that many states offer too. In many places, the combined group buy discount, federal tax credit and state rebate can total upwards of $15,000 in savings.
Here are some examples:
Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Through February, Drive Green with Mass Energy is offering Massachusettes and Rhode Island residents massive discounts of thousands of dollars off the purchase or lease of several different models of electric vehicles, including the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Ford C-MAX Energi and Ford Fusion Energi through group buy prices. To see how much you can save on each model, click here. And remember that any savings in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will be coupled with up to $2,500 through a state government rebate. My own Cambridge, Massachusetts city councillor Jan Devereux just leased a Chevy Volt through this program and made a video about her experience, and several people who recently bought EVs through Drive Green with Mass Energy tell us about their real-life experiences on this helpful blog.
On top of the state tax credit of up to $5,160 for the purchase or lease of an EV, many Coloradans can participate in a special group buy price through Drive Electric Northern Colorado when they purchase or lease a Nissan LEAF. With an original price of $33,710, the price is reduced all the way down to $11,840 once both federal and state tax credits are applied, as well as the $5,210 group buy discount. This special group buy price ends on Dec. 31, so now might be time to start dreaming of a green Christmas.
Virginia, Maryland and DC
Residents of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC have access to a pre-negotiated price for the 2016 Model Year Nissan LEAF through the Virginia Clean Cities partnership. With this group buy offer and federal tax credits, area residents can take advantage of up to $12,000 off the sticker price. And the program offers people information about solar energy too.
While Utah's U Drive Electric group buy program has recently expired, it provides a creative model for others to follow, bringing together public and private groups to promote EVs and reduce local air pollution. The University of Utah, the city of Salt Lake City, and the organization Utah Clean Energy created the program for community members to purchase or lease fully electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles at discounted prices. In 2015 this program led to the purchase of 76 electric vehicles in the Salt Lake City area with discounts ranging between 3 and 25 percent off the retail price.
Even in areas where group buy discounts are not available, the price of EVs is often lower than you'd think. If you purchase an EV, the federal tax credit of up to $7,500 applies to everyone, and in states including California, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado, Rhode Island, Maryland, Utah, New Jersey and (coming soon) New York, states are offering rebates, sales tax waivers or tax credits off the price of EVs for those who lease and/or purchase an EV. Additionally, reduced fueling and maintenance costs make many EVs cheaper to own and operate over the lifetime of the vehicles, as reported by NerdWallet.
The Sierra Club's recently updated online EV guide provides information about just about every plug-in car on the market in the U.S. If you click on a car and type in your zip code, you can even see incentives available in your state and how much you'd reduce your fueling costs and emissions in your region of the country, based on the electricity sources where you live.
With more than 20 electric vehicle models available in different mileage ranges and price points, this holiday season may be the right time to go green and save green too.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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