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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

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Dell Making Good on 'Legacy of Good' Plan with Carbon-Negative Packaging, Closed-Loop Plastics

On Tuesday, Dell announced new sustainability initiatives that CEO Michael Dell called “the next milestone” in Dell’s 2020 Legacy of Good plan.

IBM Stumbles Across New Class of Industrial Polymers That Could Revolutionize Manufacturing

Scientists from IBM Research say they have accidentally discovered a new class of polymer materials that could deliver cheaper, lighter, stronger and recyclable materials ideal for electronics, aerospace, airline and automotive industries.The new materials, created by combining high-performance computing with synthetic polymer chemistry, demonstrate resistance to cracking, strength higher than bone, the ability to reform to their original shape (self-heal), and are completely recyclable back to their starting material. The materials also can be transformed into new polymer structures to further bolster their strength by 50 percent — making them ultra-strong and lightweight.

Lignin Poised to Become Renewable Alternative to Petrochemical Feedstocks

Lignin, a by-product of the wood-pulping industry, is an organic substance binding the cells, fibers and vessels in wood. Between 40 and 50 million tons are produced worldwide per year; while some is being used for low- and medium-value applications (e.g. binding and dispersing agents in materials such as cement and bio-based leather substitutes — representing a market of roughly $730 million), most is currently treated as a non-commercialized waste product.

Harvard Researchers Develop Bioplastic from Shrimp Shells

Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute have developed a new process for the large-scale manufacturing of everyday objects — from cell phones to food containers and toys — using a fully degradable bioplastic made from shrimp shells.The Institute says the objects display many of the same properties as those created with synthetic plastics, but are more eco-friendly — even more so than most bioplastics on the market today in that they create no threat to trees or competition with the food supply.

Sprint Launches Carbon-Negative, Methane-Based iPhone Cases

Today Sprint announced it will be one of the first companies to use AirCarbon™, a new carbon-negative plastic made from methane gas, instead of petroleum. The material will be used in black and pink cell phone cases for the iPhone® 5 and iPhone® 5s that will be sold online exclusively on Sprint.com beginning later this month. Sprint says it is the first telecommunications company in the world to launch a carbon-negative product using AirCarbon.

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Closed-Loop Upcycling at Its Finest: Starbucks Now Sourcing Milk from Coffee-Fed Cows

Menicon Co., Ltd., Japan’s leading contact lens manufacturer, isn’t normally associated with milk. But a recent partnership with Starbucks is showcasing the company’s scientific expertise in a new way: Menicon has helped Starbucks to pioneer fermentation technology that now allows coffee grounds from Starbucks stores in the Tokyo area to be converted into feed for local dairy cows that produce the company’s milk.

Give the People What They Want: Four Emerging Trends in Sustainable Packaging

Asia Pulp and Paper's Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), announced in February 2013, came about in large part due to NGO pressure and the resulting concerns of our customers. The FCP marked an immediate halt to all natural forest clearance across our supply chain and is designed to help fulfill growing demand for sustainably sourced packaging material and environmental stewardship.

Hershey Reduces Paper and Energy Waste With Packaging Innovation

Hershey has unveiled a new packaging design for its Miniatures Assortment, which offers a more attractive presentation while also reducing wrapper weight by 0.05 grams — equivalent to over 271,800 pounds of wrappers saved every year.Overall, the redesign will help Hershey to reduce its paper use and save 1,957 trees annually, the company says. The reduction in aluminum use and the energy needed to produce it is equivalent to turning off the electricity for one year in 56 homes.Hershey says it has implemented more than 175 packaging sustainability projects across three countries that have saved 14 million pounds of packaging material over the past five years.

Get the Last Drop: New Marketing Opportunities in a Resource-Constrained World

What’s your favorite way to get at that last dollop of Crest? Do you flatten as you go? Slice the neck?What about shampoo or conditioner? Do you add a little water and swirl? Prop the bottle upside down in a corner? You are not alone! As the Wall Street Journal has noted, an increasing number of consumers are shaking, rattling and rolling their packages in search of the last drop, ounce and morsel — and for good reason.According to the scientific pounders and pummellers at Consumer Reports up to 25 percent of the LaPrairie and Lubriderm get left behind, as well as up to 16 percent of the Tide.

Dow's Reverse Osmosis Technology Earns Bronze Edison Award

Last week, not long after Dow designated its FILMTEC™ ECO Reverse Osmosis (RO) Elements as its second Breakthrough to a World Challenge, the technology garnered a prestigious Edison Award.

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INVISTA Unveils Renewable, Bio-Based LYCRA Material

INVISTA, one of the world’s largest integrated producers of polymers and fibers, and owner of the LYCRA® brand, today introduces the first commercial offering of a bio-derived spandex — the stretchy fabric commonly found in swimwear, sportswear and dancewear.The company says approximately 70 percent by weight of the new LYCRA® bio-derived spandex fiber comes from a renewable source made from dextrose, derived from corn. The use of a renewable feedstock in the making of this new LYCRA® bio-derived fiber results in a lower CO2 emissions footprint than spandex produced using traditional raw materials.

Unilever's Lux Soap Will Now Be Made with Algal Oils

Unilever and Solazyme announced today the incorporation of algal oils into Unilever’s Lux brand soap (branded Caress in the US), which Unilever says is the world’s best-selling bar soap. The move aligns with Unilever’s ambition to double the size of its business while reducing its overall environmental footprint, as part of which Unilever has made a commitment to using only sustainably sourced agricultural raw materials by 2020.

'Make It, Take It' Campaign Pressuring Companies to Take Responsibility for Packaging Waste

A coalition of organizations devoted to waste and recycling, plastic pollution and resource conservation today launched the Make It, Take It Campaign, a collaborative effort to pressure consumer goods companies to take responsibility for packaging waste. Coordinated by UPSTREAM and backed by organizations including 5 Gyres, Clean Water Action, Green America and the National Resources Defense Council, the campaign aims to elevate the issue of packaging waste, put public pressure on consumer goods companies and educate and mobilize citizens to push for sustainable packaging policies.

Carrington Co. Launches First-Ever Organic Tea in Biodegradable Packaging

Organic food company Carrington Co. has announced the launch of the first tea on the market to feature packaging that will fully and safely biodegrade when composted.The company says all components of the Carrington Organics Tea, from the packaging to the bag and tea itself, are recyclable. The tea’s packaging is completely compostable and biodegradable, and leaves close to a zero carbon footprint.Carrington Co., which also makes other organic, non-genetically modified products such as flax seeds, hemp, chia and coconut oil, says that all of its Carrington Organics Tea products are certified organic and packed in the United States.

Unilever's New Plastic-Molding Process Could Save 27,000 Tons Per Year

Unilever announced on Tuesday that its Dove Body Wash will now come in bottles that contain at least 15 percent less plastic, thanks to a new packaging technology. Unilever says it will make the breakthrough process — which represents another step towards its goal to halve its waste footprint by 2020 — available for use throughout the industry.

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Novelis Introduces High-Recycled Content Aluminum Can

Novelis has launched the world's first commercial use of evercan™, the company's independently certified high-recycled content aluminum sheet for beverage cans.Red Hare craft beer packaged exclusively in cans made of Novelis' evercan aluminum sheet – made of a minimum 90 percent recycled content – is expected to be on store shelves beginning in May 2014 in key markets throughout the southeastern US.

Could the Scourge of the Seas Help Defeat the Scourge of the Landfill?

We all know climate change and pollution are beginning to wreak havoc around the world in a variety of ways. In tropical and Mediterranean areas, higher oceanic acidity and warmer temperatures in recent years have created, among other things, a proliferation of pesky and increasingly invasive jellyfish, which are clogging up industrial piping systems, frustrating fishermen, and stinging and creeping-out beach-goers.

Waitrose, ITM Power Piloting Project to De-Carbonize Production of Industrial Fertilizer

UK supermarket chain Waitrose has teamed up with energy storage and clean fuel company ITM Power Project to design and build a lower-impact system for the production of industrial fertilizer.Industrial fertilizer production, which involves converting natural gas and other fossil fuels into ammonia, is responsible for a substantial proportion of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thanks to co-funding from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, under its Agri-Tech program, the project will demonstrate the de-carbonization of fertilizer production.

Colgate Commits to 100% Recyclable Packaging for Three of Four Product Categories by 2020

Shareholder advocacy group As You Sow (AYS) announced today that, after dialogue with AYS, personal care products giant Colgate-Palmolive has committed to making 100 percent of its packaging for three of four product categories completely recyclable by 2020. Colgate has also committed to developing a recyclable toothpaste tube or package, which would bring its fourth product category close to the same sustainability standard (perhaps the company can take a cue from this recent student redesign of its toothpaste tube!). Most toothpaste tubes are made from unrecyclable plastic laminates.

Liquid Light Wins Grand Challenge Grant for Carbon-Conversion Technology

New Jersey-based Liquid Light has received a CAD$500,000 seed grant in the first round of Alberta’s Grand Challenge, organized by the Climate Change and Emission Management Corporation (CCEMC). The purpose of the CCEMC Grand Challenge is to identify new technologies that will lead to the creation of new products and markets, while providing a one million ton net reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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