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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

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Can Products Be Convenient Without Being Wasteful?

Selling a product in today’s world is not just about quality and price point anymore. Packaging has become a key factor in the way companies sell products, and specifically, how (if at all) they are making packaging more sustainable. What companies want to know now is if consumers take their carbon footprint into account when buying products and how they respond when companies make an effort to create more sustainable packaging for their products.

#BusinessCase: Employee Innovations Help ConAgra Save 97M Gallons of Water, 15M Pounds of Packaging - and $70M

A growing number of companies large and small are finding they can save substantial amounts of money by optimizing various aspects of their operations, thereby proving the previously elusive business case for sustainability. The latest example: ConAgra Foods.

Global Stewardship Required to Avoid Silent Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall

It’s been 53 years since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a shocking exposé of chemical pollutants and their impact on the Earth's ecosystems.

BASF’s Creator Space Hosting Symposium on Smart Energy for a Sustainable Future

At the first of three science symposia hosted by BASF in honor of its 150th anniversary, to be held this week in Ludwigshafen, Germany, more than 600 top ranking scientists from academia and business will discuss “Smart Energy for a Sustainable Future.” Speakers will discuss the latest innovations in the storage and sustainable use of energy and explain approaches to energy-efficient chemical production. Other topics include viable future mobility, new materials for energy technologies and future energy supply. The symposium is part of BASF's worldwide Creator Space™ program.

Dunkin’ Donuts No Longer Dunked in Chemicals

Dunkin’ Brands, Dunkin’ Donuts’ parent company, has agreed to remove titanium dioxide, a whitening agent that is a common source of nanomaterials, from all powdered sugar used to make the company’s donuts. As a result of this progress, the advocacy group As You Sow has withdrawn a shareholder proposal asking Dunkin’ to assess and reduce the risks of using nanomaterials in its food products.

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Waste2Watergy Helping Beverage Companies Brew Power from Wastewater

Waste2Watergy, a Corvallis startup formed at Oregon State University, has secured a $225,000 federal grant to advance technology that cleans organics from brewery wastewater while producing electricity. The company says the technology could revolutionize wastewater treatment for the entire food and beverage industry.Developers have created a microbial fuel cell (MFC) system that generates energy from treating wastewater. Tiny microbes were designed to consume organic material; as an added bonus, the electrochemical energy created from microbial reactions in the fuel cell produce electricity.

New Packaging Concepts Could Cut Food Waste

UK recycled packaging manufacturer Spectra unveiled a number of new concepts emphasizing closure technology this week at an industry event in Birmingham.One of the new closure concepts is a two-piece cap that features an inner screw mechanism, which allows customers to snap on five alternate outer shells for a mix-and-match outcome. Another idea is a new push button sliding cap that can be operated with one hand, available in twin color options.

Domtar Encouraging Customers to Ask Themselves: Where Does My Paper Come From?

This month, responsible paper company Domtar launched Paper Made Here — a new program that encourages its stakeholders to ask themselves: “Where does my paper come from?”The Paper Made Here program demonstrates why buying North American paper is the responsible economic, social and environmental choice, and the best business decision. The program also spotlights Domtar’s longtime commitment to sustainability, its history as a North American job creator and its investment in local communities.

adidas Group Exceeds 2014 Better Cotton Target

Today, the adidas Group announced that in 2014, it sourced more than 30 percent of all of its cotton as Better Cotton, exceeding the originally planned 25 percent target. This marks the sportswear giant’s highest volume of sustainable cotton use to date. The Better Cotton used in 2014 was predominantly sourced from farmers located in India, Pakistan and Brazil.

Multi-Sector Gathering Calls for Harmonized Framework for Shifting to Sustainable Product Portfolios

Last week, Sustainable Brands participated in and helped support an important meeting in Berlin, hosted by BASF, entitled "Steering a Portfolio Toward Sustainability." A gathering of almost 150 chemistry industry stakeholders — including customers and colleagues such as DOW, AkzoNobel, DSM, Eastman Chemical, Solvay and Sabic — participated in the day-and-a-half-long discussion.

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Closing the Loop on Recycling: Unilever, P&G Aim to Give Communities Greater Access to Recycling Programs

Regardless of where we live, we’re neighbors — sharing this grand global space, and thus all of its sustainability challenges and opportunities.Therefore, we believe we also share in the responsibility to develop solutions, and to work together when our combined resources can have a positive impact that none of us could achieve on our own.

Plastic Permanence: Our Litter Is Now Part of the Geologic Record

From a human perspective, the earth’s geography changes pretty slowly — it takes thousands of years for a glacier to carve out a valley, for plate tectonics to form mountains and for volcanic eruptions to layer new land masses. But a recent discovery by scientists shows a new addition to the rock record, and it’s partly man-made.The new hybrid rock type is called a plastiglomerate, and the colorful stones are cropping up on shorelines in Hawaii. They’re multicolored and multitextured, a mosaic of stone and polymer. Plastiglomerates are formed when plastic is melted and hardens into pores of existing rocks. They’re usually between 2 and 8 inches, and rounded from erosion on the shore.

Report Highlights CPG, Food Companies Leading and Lagging on Better Packaging

Shareholder advocacy group As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have issued a new report examining packaging used by 47 fast food/quick service restaurant (QSR) chains, beverage companies, and consumer good/grocery companies and highlights the leaders and laggards in terms of its recyclability.

Carlsberg Working to Develop Biodegradable Wood Fiber Bottle

Beer giant Carlsberg last week announced its plans to develop the world’s first fully biodegradable wood-fiber bottle.After its participation on a panel on “Wasteless Supply” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Carlsberg launched its three-year project with development partners to design a bio-based, biodegradable bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fiber, which it is calling the “Green Fiber Bottle.” The company will work alongside packaging company ecoXpac, and in collaboration with Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark.

Millennials Up Pressure on Brands for Sustainable Packaging

Millennials have higher expectations for sustainable product packaging than their older counterparts, according to a new study by Finnish packaging solutions company Stora Enso.Millennials, defined as those born between 1980 and 2000, are the focus of the Stora Enso Packaging divisions’ fourth Viewpoint report, which looks at their preferences and decisions when it comes to product packaging. Since this age group will comprise almost half of the European workforce (and therefore dominant consumers) by 2025, it is a key target for retailers and a prime category for brands to win over.

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Why Durable Bioplastics, Not Biodegradable, May Be the Answer

To conclude this series about bioplastics and the biodegradability (or lack thereof) of plastic products and packaging, I want to discuss the future of what I consider to be one of the only viable alternatives to plastics derived from non-renewable resources: durable bioplastics.

L’Oréal, Avery Dennison Collaborating to Reduce Environmental Impact of Labels

L’Oréal Americas and Avery Dennison have joined forces to identify and reduce the environmental impacts of packaging labels throughout the entire label lifecycle.The collaboration has already produced a comprehensive Avery Dennison Greenprint™ assessment showing how thinner label materials can reduce environmental impacts. Avery Dennison Greenprint, a screening lifecycle tool launched in 2010, is the first of its kind in the label industry.

Pesticide Industry Resists Calls to Reveal Inert Ingredients

Pesticide manufacturers are pushing back against increasing consumer and environmental advocacy group demands for disclosure of the chemicals in pesticide formulations—claiming the information is proprietary.Of particular interest are the so-called inert ingredients such as chemicals in pesticides that perform functions other than controlling pests. Examples include emulsifiers, solvents, aerosols, fragrances, dyes and other chemicals that are not necessarily benign, according to those calling for mandatory labeling of inert ingredients in pesticides.

Honeywell Scales Up Production of Low-GHG Propellant, Insulating Agent and Refrigerant

Honeywell has announced that it has started full-scale commercial production of a low-global-warming-potential (GWP) material used as an aerosol propellant, insulating agent and refrigerant.The diversified technology and manufacturing company says the material, known by the industry designation HFO-1234ze and marketed by Honeywell under its Solstice® line of low-global-warming materials, is being produced at the Honeywell Fluorine Products facility in Baton Rouge, La.

The Myth of Biodegradability in Plastic Consumer Products and Packaging

In my last post regarding the long-term viability of bio-based polymers, I touched on some of the primary concerns we face regarding the rise of plastics labeled as “biodegradable.” It’s an important component of this broad discussion, and one that has become increasingly relevant in an increasingly sustainability-driven product market.

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