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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

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Södra, James Cropper Unveil 100% Renewable, Biodegradable Alternative to Plastic

UK specialty paper and advanced materials manufacturer James Cropper PLC — which has developed breakthrough processes for recycling cocoa husk waste into paper and for recycling both the paper and plastic components of disposable coffee cups — has unveiled a sustainable alternative to plastic that the company says can carry the weight of an adult and be composted within 100 days. Developed in partnership with Södra, a Swedish forestry cooperative, DuraPulp is a bio-composite material that consists of specially selected pulp and a renewable biopolymer.

New Research Says Biostimulation Can Help Produce Algae 300 Times Faster

A research team at AlgaStar Inc, a Florida-based algae cultivation company, has reported that biological simulation has yielded a 300 percent increase in algae growth rate over normal conditions. Based on findings presented by AlgaStar CEO John Ericsson at the 2013 Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, the research conducted at AlgaStar and recently initiated at Los Alamos National Laboratory has begun to map the conditions under which biostimulation enhances growth rate and metabolism for several biological cultures with microwave energy.

Biogen Idec Says It Will Reduce Its GHGs 80% by 2020

In its fifth annual Corporate Citizenship Report, released this week, biotech company Biogen Idec puts forward an aggressive set of 2020 goals, including reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 80 percent (compared to its 2006 baseline and normalized by revenue), maintaining its zero waste-to-landfill status (achieved in 2012), and developing a new water-intensity goal, to be released by 2015. The GHG reductions will be equivalent to maintaining 2006 levels of GHG emissions despite significant realized and anticipated business growth.

New Tetra Pak Campaign Encourages Industry-Wide Commitment to Renewable Packaging

Tetra Pak has launched a campaign to raise industry awareness of the importance of the front end of the packaging life cycle — the sourcing of renewable materials — and is calling on the consumer goods industry to commit to prioritizing renewability.

Sainsbury's, M&S Lead Effort to Recycle 1.3 Billion Plastic Food Trays Annually

Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer (M&S) are leading a consortium of UK packaging, retail and recycling organizations to launch a market trial aimed at recycling as many as 1.3 billion plastic food trays each year.The campaign focuses on reducing waste from black CPET trays, which are commonly used in supermarket ready meals. The trays are recyclable, but the black color of the trays makes them undetectable with Near Infra-Red optical sorting equipment typically used at plastic sorting and recycling facilities.

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Dow Challenging People to Become Better Recyclers

Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics has launched a campaign called Recycle Rally — A 30-Day Recycling Challenge, to inspire people to cultivate daily recycling behaviors.

Walmart, Bumble and Bumble Fined for VOC Emissions

Walmart, Bumble and Bumble and 17 other companies have been fined by the California Air Resources Board for air pollution violations. Bumble and Bumble received the highest penalty of $88,000 followed by Walmart at $34,000 out of a total of $233,175 of fines.The 19 companies were involved in the manufacturing or selling of consumer products - ranging from nail polish removers and bathroom cleaners to charcoal lighter materials and air fresheners - which exceeded California’s standards for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases that contribute to ozone formation once released into the air. The violations amounted to over 11 tons of excess VOC emissions.

Recycle Across America, Participant Media Determined to Get Us to 'Recycle Right!'

Recycle Across America® (RAA), a nonprofit that has developed the first and only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins to help eliminate the public confusion surrounding recycling, has joined forces with Participant Media on a social action campaign called Recycle Right!, focused on transforming recycling and improving the economics and prevalence of sustainable packaging and manufacturing.

Defra Study Funding Coke, Tesco, Nestlé to Boost Recycling of Aluminum Packaging

Coca-Cola Enterprises, Tesco and Nestlé UK & Ireland are among the companies being funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to develop viable approaches for collecting flexible packaging materials containing aluminum to improve the recycling and remanufacture of the material.Flexible laminate packaging — such as toothpaste tubes and pet food sachets — often contains valuable aluminium and various recyclable plastics, which can be difficult to collect and separate for viable recycling.

'Valuing Plastic' Illustrates Critical Need for Companies to Disclose Data on Plastic Use

Companies could become more sustainable by improving the way they measure, manage and report the amount of plastic they use in their business operations and supply chains, according to groundbreaking new research by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), the UN Environment Programme and natural capital analysts Trucost.

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LAUNCH Seeking Chemistry Innovations to Advance Sustainable Materials, Manufacturing

Calling all chemistry innovators! LAUNCH — the open innovation platform aimed at identifying and fostering breakthrough ideas for a more sustainable world — this week announced its newest System Challenge: Green Chemistry.

Biome Research Confirms Next-Generation Bioplastics Could Be Derived from Trees

A research project led by Biome Bioplastics, one of the UK’s leading developers of natural plastics, has demonstrated the feasibility of extracting organic chemicals from lignin — a complex hydrocarbon that helps to provide structural support in plants and trees — for the manufacture of bioplastics.The results stem from a grant from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, awarded to a consortium led by Biome Bioplastics in early 2013 to investigate lignin as a potential new source of organic chemicals for bioplastics manufacture, which could significantly reduce costs and increase performance of these sustainable materials.

adidas Partners with bluesign, Commits to Additional Best Practices in Chemical Management

Today, the adidas Group announced a strategic partnership with bluesign technologies to further drive sustainable solutions in the Group’s global supply chain.bluesign technologies is the well-established world leading provider of assessment tools for positive chemistry in the textile industry. The bluesign® system, focused on screening and managing chemical input at supplier level, brings multiple benefits such as the more responsible use of resources, the effective management of restricted substances, as well as the elimination of hazardous chemicals in the supply chain.

Feds Release Recommendations to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security

The Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group, a federal government working group set up after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, in 2013 has released recommendations that agencies should consider new rules for the storage and handling of chemicals.Established by Executive Order 13650 issued in response to the blast, the working group has developed a preliminary list of options for improving chemical facility safety and security for further discussion and comment.

Kaiser Permanente Commits to Flame-Retardant-Free Furniture

Kaiser Permanente has announced that it will stop purchasing furniture treated with flame retardants. Its new standard specifies that upholstered furniture in new or remodeled buildings should not contain added fire-retardant chemicals.The medical group says it spends roughly $30 million a year to furnish its hospitals, medical offices and other buildings. It is the first health system in the country to make this commitment; the decision could impact more than 38 hospitals and 600 medical offices in eight states and the District of Columbia.

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Ford and Heinz Collaborate on 'Tom-auto'-Based Materials for Car Parts

When most people think of ketchup and cars (if they do at all), they’re probably just hoping to not spill any while they’re driving. But researchers at Ford and Heinz have something much cooler in mind — the companies announced today they are investigating the use of tomato fibers in developing bio-based composite materials for use in vehicle manufacturing. Specifically, dried tomato skins — now a waste product of the ketchup-making process — could become the wiring brackets or a storage bin used to hold coins and other small objects in a Ford vehicle.

Groups call on Walmart, P&G, Coke to Back Proven Recycling Approaches, Not Closed Loop Fund

Today, a group of public interest organizations called on Walmart and the eight other companies involved in the recently launched $100M “Closed Loop Recycling” loan fund, to instead support proven policies to boost recycling, such as extended producer responsibility (EPR), which holds consumer goods companies financially responsible for the collection of their packaging post-use (rather than having taxpayers and local governments foot the bill) and meeting recycling targets.

GE Helps Portuguese Brewery Save 72 Million Liters of Water Annually

A brewery in Portugal has significantly reduced water usage by improving operating performance and reliability with help from GE’s advanced membranes and water chemical technology.The site, Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas (SCC), reused wastewater to its cooling towers, which enabled it to reduce its yearly water discharge by 72 million liters and cut its annual fresh water consumption by the same amount. It also increased production performance by 40 percent in the tertiary treatment.

adidas Addresses Allegations of Toxic World Cup Gear; Greenpeace Shoots Back

Last week, Greenpeace Germany released a report indicting adidas, Nike and Puma for producing gear for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil that contains hazardous chemicals. The watchdog group unveiled the results after testing 33 items including boots, goalkeeper gloves and the official “Brazuca” ball, for a range of substances.

Investors Press Mondelez International to Switch to Recyclable Packaging

Last week, shareholder advocacy organization As You Sow (AYS), along with shareholders representing $11.8 billion worth of shares, presented a proposal to Mondelez International asking that the company make the switch to recyclable packaging.The resolution, which received 28.4 percent shareholder support, was presented at the giant food manufacturer’s annual meeting.The world’s largest snack food company, Mondelez International produces brands such as Oreo, Chips Ahoy!, Trident gum, and Philadelphia cream cheese. It comprises the global snack and food brands of the former Kraft Foods, from which it split in 2012.

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