Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

The latest developments in safe and sustainable chemicals, new materials, fuels, and more.

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Natura Asks: Why Do You Need What You Don't Need?

In December 2011, Patagonia called on US consumers to make more considered purchases with its famous “Don’t buy this jacket” ad and this year encouraged customers to value what they already have with its “Worn Wear” campaign. Along the same lines, Brazilian cosmetics company Natura launched in May 2013 a new flagship brand called SOU (meaning “I am”), reconciling low environmental impacts and low costs with high sensorial impacts and inviting users to a new kind of consumption.

I'm Dreaming of a Toxin-Free Christmas

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are scrambling to make last-minute purchases for friends and family. As items cross the check-out counter, products enter our lives carrying with them a chemical footprint that is often overlooked. While no overarching labeling scheme reveals the chemical makeup of most products, we can cheer some inspiring activity moving us toward toxin-free consumer products in the future. We may not see immediate changes in product chemistry this holiday season, but there is reason to hold onto hope for next year’s shopping list.

Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra, NL Industries Fined $1.1 Billion in 1990 Lead-Paint Poison Case

Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and ConAgra Foods have been found liable for removing lead-based paint from the interiors of thousands of homes throughout California to the tune of $1.1 billion, thanks to a ruling by Santa Clara County Superior Court. The San Jose Mercury News reported that Judge James Kleinberg awarded the funds to 10 California cities and counties that sued former and current paint companies for promoting the sale of lead-based paints before it was banned in 1978. Lead poisoning can result in kidney damage, hearing problems and other issues, while in children it can slow growth and cause behavioral and attention disorders.

EPA Releases Screening Data on 1,800 Chemicals, Announces ToxCast Data Challenges

“EPA’s use of cost-effective advanced chemical screening techniques has transformed this country’s knowledge of the safety of almost 2,000 chemicals currently in use,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “[This] release marks an important milestone in communicating and improving our understanding of the impact chemicals have on human health and the environment.

Companies Need a New Game Plan for Chemical Management

Consumer products companies are faced with a new chemical agenda. The market expectation has shifted from outdated regulatory compliance to greater ingredient transparency and more stringent health and environmental protection. Companies have traditionally siloed their chemical policies and programs in legal or regulatory departments, but these teams can’t manage the new rules of the game on their own. They need a new framework with an overarching direction and purpose that engages the business to understand, assess, improve and disclose chemical information and hazards. In short, they need a new game plan for chemical management.

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Amazon Now Offering 200,000 Products with 'Frustration-Free' Packaging

On Thursday, Amazon announced that its Frustration-Free Packaging initiative, the retailer’s effort to liberate products from hermetically sealed clamshell cases and plastic-coated steel-wire ties, now offers over 200,000 items, up from 19 when the initiative first launched five years ago.To try and alleviate the frustration many people experience when opening toys and electronics, Amazon is working with leading manufacturers to deliver products inside smaller, easy-to-open, recyclable cardboard boxes that reduce the overall amount of packaging used while still protecting what’s inside.

The Story of Stuff's 'The Good Stuff' Examines Roadblocks to Greener Chemistry

Do you read the ingredient labels of your products? Here are some from a popular baby shampoo:“Purple paraben, quarternium-15, sorbitan laurate…,” rattles off Annie Leonard, co-director of The Story of Stuff Project, during the most recent episode of their “Good Stuff” podcast, which discussed green chemistry.Now, what do those ingredients mean? Where do they come from? If companies are allowed to sell them on the shelves, is that not an indication that they are safe to use? What about the ingredients that aren’t listed … and what does “fragrance” really mean?

Biome Bioplastics Serving Up Compostable Coffee Pods

UK-based Biome Bioplastics has announced its new biodegradable coffee pod, the latest in a spate of innovations lessening the environmental impact of the roughly $6.6 billion single-serve market.According to Biome, an estimated 9.1 billion single-serve coffee and drink cartridges wind up in U.S. landfills every year — thanks to the roughly 50 different single-serve coffee makers on the market — amounting to some 19 million cubic feet of waste. The company says coffee-pod machines are also becoming increasingly popular in Britain, with a 45 percent surge in usage between February 2012 and 2013, equating to roughly 186 million capsules.

Sochi 2014 Pledging to Be First Carbon-Neutral Olympic Games — For Real, This Time

The upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympics will be the first in history to achieve carbon neutrality, according to a recent announcement by The Dow Chemical Company, the Official Carbon Partner for the Games. This includes carbon footprints associated with the travel of athletes, spectators and media from all over the world traveling to Russia for the Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games, between February and March 2014 — amounting to roughly 160,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

PulpWorks Out to Save People and Planet from Painful Plastic Packaging

Each week leading up to our SB London conference, where the winner of the SB London Innovation Open (SBIOL) will be announced on November 18, we will get to know each of our four finalists. This week, meet PulpWorks.

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P&G’s New Plastic Mold Process Could Save $1 Billion Annually

Procter & Gamble has developed a new process to mold plastic that it claims is thinner, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the current industry standard and could save the company $1 billion a year by using less plastic and different raw materials.The company says it plans to use the material for its own products and its patent applications and may also sell it to other marketers from non-competitive package-goods players to automotive giants.

Royal DSM Approves Genomatica's Bio-Based BDO for Use in Arnitel Thermoplastics

Royal DSM, the global life sciences and materials sciences company, announced last week that in-depth testing has proven that Genomatica’s renewable form of the organic compound 1,4-butanediol (BDO) has excellent purity and shows equivalent performance as fossil-based BDO. The company says using BDO made with Genomatica's bio-based process technology in its Arnitel thermoplastic products can increase Arnitel's bio-based content up to 73%; because of this and its level of performance, DSM says it considers the renewable BDO a suitable raw material for commercial production of Arnitel.

BASF and Heritage Plastics Partnering to Bring ecovio® Bioplastics Production to U.S.

BASF has announced a strategic manufacturing partnership with Heritage Plastics, Inc. to produce the chemical company’s ecovio® compostable bioplastic products in North America.The partnership enables BASF to expand manufacturing of its ecovio biopolymers, which are currently only produced in Europe. ecovio production will begin immediately at the Heritage facility in Picayune, Mississippi.

Republic of Tea Launches 95% Biodegradable Single-Serve Pod

Socially conscious tea purveyor the Republic of Tea has announced a new line of environmentally friendly, single-serve One Cuppa™ tea pods, that are 95% biodegradable and compatible with most single-serve coffee- and tea- brewing machines. The company says the pods will be available beginning October 1.“We listened to our Citizens who have requested that our premium teas be available for single-serve use. We are so happy to now provide our Citizens with this new, innovative way of enjoying a cup of premium tea. We are also being mindful of the environment with our earth-friendly, 95% biodegradable One Cuppa,” said Republic of Tea CEO Ron Rubin.

McDonald’s Agrees to Phase Out Polystyrene Cups

McDonald’s Corp. has confirmed that it will replace all polystyrene beverage cups with paper cups at its 14,000 U.S. outlets, according to As You Sow (AYS), a nonprofit organization that promotes corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy. The move comes in response to a shareholder proposal filed by AYS in 2011, asking the fast-food giant to stop using foam. After agreeing to a test replacement of its foam cups with a double-walled paper hot cup at approximately 2,000 restaurants, primarily on the West Coast, in 2012, McDonald’s deemed the pilots successful and the paper cup will now become the standard hot beverage cup at all U.S. outlets.

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Clariant Releases Paraben-Free Alternative to Cosmetics Preservatives

Swiss chemical giant Clariant today announced the launch of Nipaguard® Zero — a powerful line of optimized preservative blends for cosmetics that contain no parabens, yet deliver a comparable performance.Clariant offers a broad portfolio of single actives and optimized blends under the brand names Phenonip®, Nipagin® and Nipaguard. Due to growing end-user demand for alternatives to parabens, the company has developed four Nipaguard Zero blends for use in rinse-off and leave-on applications, wet wipes and difficult-to-preserve formulations, including an Ecocert®-approved option.

California Adopts Groundbreaking Safer Consumer Product Regulations

California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) now has significantly expanded oversight regarding chemicals used in products involved in the state’s commerce stream, following the adoption of the Safer Consumer Product (SCP) Regulations that implements the Green Chemistry statute.While other states have adopted or are considering "Green Chemistry" initiatives, California has the only program that extends beyond children's products to any and all consumer products.The new regulations require the DTSC to identify its initial list of candidate chemicals by October 31, 2013.By next April, DTSC will need to identify up to five "priority products" that will be subject to the SCP regulations during the first few years of implementation.

WikiPearl Promises an Edible Packaging Revolution

Consumer demand for foods convenient and fast has led to a surge in packaging waste across the globe. The use and disposal of plastic in particular has spiked, and despite increased corporate and municipal recycling programs, far too much plastic still ends up in landfills. This grab-and-go mentality for both junk and healthful foods alike will hardly be sustainable in the long run as more food companies and their brands churn out more products and packaging gimmicks in the name of “innovation.” Not one company so far, though, has found an innovative way to deal with the accumulation of Tetra-Paks, cartons and myriad types of plastic. Could edible packaging help solve this problem?

Cascadian Farm Launches First Bio-Based Cereal Box Liner

Cascadian Farm, makers of more than 75 organic products, yesterday announced that it has introduced its first-ever cereal box liner made from renewable plant sources.The company says its Cinnamon Crunch cereal is now packaged in an inner bag made from up to 57 percent certified plant-based material. Cascadian Farm says this new liner is the latest among its various sustainability initiatives that support its mission of helping to shape a better world."At Cascadian Farm, we know that every choice we make can help shape a better world now and for the future," said Jennifer Jorgenson, marketing director for Cascadian Farm. "A desire to protect our Earth's resources led us to develop this groundbreaking inner bag."

This Tiny Patch Could Be a Game Changer for Global Health

Kite Patch is the latest breakthrough technology in the global fight against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases. A non-toxic adhesive patch that makes you virtually invisible to mosquitos, Kite brings a scalable solution to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations.

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