In many parts of the U.S., winter weather brings snow and though students might happily think “day off” with its onset, many others see the powdery material in less positive light. State and local agencies spend over $2.3 billion dollars in “snow and ice control operations” because snow-related weather events account for approximately 22 percent of vehicle crashes and 19 percent of fatalities. Part of the solution to the dangerous conditions caused by snow and ice has been to salt roads, which researchers believe have reduced crashes by 88 percent. However, salted roads cause damage to cars, which in turn might increase drivers’ vulnerabilities to accidents. Alternatives to salt could decrease the danger of wintery conditions.

According to a report by ProPublica, pipeline accidents have killed more than 500 people, injured over 4,000 and cost the U.S. nearly $7 billion in property damages since 1986. Though this might seem relatively insignificant compared to the 32,675 deaths due to road accidents in 2014 alone, critics argue that oil and gas pipelines can and should be safer, an initiative that begins with improving our country’s aging pipelines or more immediately, the type of coatings the oil and gas industry uses to protect them.

The hazards of plastic pollution are well-known to many, including the potential to poison and entangle animals, and even to resurface in the human food supply where the chemical additives can prove especially harmful for the most vulnerable among us. In this milieu, CPG companies have taken an interest in biodegradable plastic—plastic that can decompose due to the action of living organisms, usually bacteria. Though biodegradable plastics are not necessarily made from biomaterials such as plants, CPG companies have more seriously considered biodegradability as a positive functionality of plastic (along with durability, strength, etc.) and its use often appeals to an increasingly environmentally conscious consumer base.

“Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink” may be a common misquote from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but the sentiment is familiar to many people in today’s modern world. Growing urban populations and rapid industrialization are taxing our global water resources, fueling concerns about the longevity of our drinking reservoirs. In fact, estimates say that we need at least 30% more water by 2030 to keep pace with increasing demand. The necessity has not gone unnoticed, however. Governments have been passing or amending laws to protect natural waterways from harmful chemicals, as many of them also serve as sources of drinking water. Unfortunately, keeping rivers and streams free of pollution isn’t enough. In addition to overpopulation, changing climates have led to the overall dwindling of our natural water supplies—something to which residents of the drought-stricken U.S. West Coast can attest. As a result, we must change how we think about water. Not only must we focus on ways to conserve it, we must also consider how to recycle and reuse it.

The current volatility in the oil and gas market has left companies scrambling for ways to maintain their annual earnings and profit margins. Unfortunately, the challenges they’re facing don’t appear to be leaving anytime soon. Thanks to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC) maintaining record-high production to compete with the U.S. shale boom, the price of crude oil has hit corresponding record lows. Consumers may be rejoicing over having to pay less for gasoline, but petroleum firms must make some tough decisions to remain competitive.

Each day, approximately 1 million tons of waste products are produced in our landfills due to the decomposition of organic materials. Methane is the most prevalent compound in the mixture of gases known as landfill gas (LFG), though carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen are present as well. Perhaps most interesting are the many ways in which landfill gas can be used productively to generate electricity, heat appliances or create a variety of other chemical compounds. Instead of having these gases escape off into the air, materials scientists are harnessing the potential energy in LFG to create “green fuels” that benefit both the environment and our lives.