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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

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P&G Removing Phosphates from All Detergents by End of 2015

Procter & Gamble announced this week that it will eliminate phosphates from all of its laundry detergents — which include brands such as Tide, Ariel, Cheer, Gain, Ace and Bold — by the end of 2015. The company says the goal of the change is to provide consumers with superior cleaning performance while eliminating the harmful effects of the chemicals on the environment.

Chemicals in Consumer Products: New Progress in Transparency

The states of Washington and California are breaking new ground by providing consumers with information on potentially harmful chemicals in the products they buy and use on a daily basis. Washington’s focus is on products meant for children; California’s law spotlights cosmetics.

Carlsberg Partners With Suppliers to Embrace Packaging Upcycling

Carlsberg has joined with a group of global suppliers to develop the next generation of packaging products that are optimized for recycling and reuse, otherwise known as “upcycling.”The term, popularized by William McDonough & Michael Braungart in 2013’s The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance, espouses the idea that through proper design, humans can have a positive net impact on the social and ecological world. The Upcycle rejects the idea of merely being ‘less bad’ and proposes that we focus more on creating a positive footprint for future generations — all while generating profit.

Nike, PUMA in Talks with Chemist Revolutionizing Bio-Based Materials

University of Delaware professor Dr. Richard Wool is setting about revolutionizing bio-based materials for a wide variety of applications. The professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering — who is also director of UD’s Affordable Composites from Renewable Resources (ACRES) program — has already developed safer chemical adhesives, composites, foams and circuit boards from renewable resources through processes that require less water and energy to produce and create less hazardous waste compared to petroleum-based processes, according to Science Daily.

Blue Sun First to Commercialize Enzymatic Biodiesel Process at Scale

Cross-Posted from Cleantech. Blue Sun Energy, a transportation fuel technology commercialization company, has implemented its enzymatic biodiesel processing technology at its 30 million gallon per year biodiesel production facility in St. Joseph, Missouri, making it the most advanced in the world.Blue Sun says it has fully commercialized the enzymatic process technology and the St. Joseph plant is operating at full scale, which will give it a clear competitive advantage in the biodiesel market. The process at the St. Joe refinery produces high-quality biodiesel, which is further improved by the state-of-the-art distillation system installed last year at the refinery.

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Awards Honoring Innovations in Bio-Based Fuels, Products Now Accepting Nominations

Cross-Posted from Cleantech. Now in their fifth year, the Sustainable Bio Awards recognize the range of innovations taking place in the development of truly sustainable bio-based fuels and products. From biofuels and feedstocks to face cream and finance, this year’s awards will celebrate the advancements made throughout 2013. World Bio Markets, the company behind the awards, is accepting nominations through midnight on January 31 (GMT). Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in Amsterdam on March 5, 2014.

Nestlé Partners with Stem Cell Tech Company to Study Link Between Nutrition and Disease

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. The Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) has signed a long-term research agreement with Wisconsin-based Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a leading developer of stem cell technologies for in vitro drug development, stem cell banking and in vivo cellular therapeutic research.The agreement gives Nestlé access to certain types of CDI’s cell products to support nutrition-research programs on maintaining health and helping to prevent conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Not Magic, Science: Startup Creating Plastic Out of Thin Air

We’re hearing more and more often about inventive new ways companies are turning waste into valuable resources — from turning everything from CO2 and methane gases to human and food waste into fuels, and plastic into bacteria-battling “

IBM's Plastic 'Ninja Polymers' Could Be MRSA Bacteria's First Worthy Opponents

A team of research scientists at IBM and Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have drawn upon years of expertise in semiconductor technology and material discovery to crack the code for safely destroying the antibiotic-resistant and sometimes-deadly superbug MRSA.IBM says the researchers have made a nanomedicine breakthrough by converting common plastic materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into non-toxic and biocompatible materials designed to specifically target and attack fungal infections.

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.

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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.

Lincoln Introducing Tree-Based Alternative to Fiberglass for Interior Parts in 2014 MKX

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. While many Lincoln MKX drivers may be tying trees to the top of their vehicles this time of year, 2014 will see the MKX crossover with tree-based components inside the vehicle.A three-year collaboration between The Lincoln Motor Company, timber giant Weyerhaeuser and auto parts supplier Johnson Controls has birthed a tree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts.

Seventh Gen, Annie’s, Eileen Fisher Among Companies Pushing Congress for Better Chemicals Policy

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. A group of the country's leading consumer brands have formed a new coalition to persuade Congress to update the nation's out-of-date and ineffective chemical safety laws. Strong lobbying by other industry groups has given policymakers the impression that business is monolithic in its support for weak legislation. The new coalition, Companies for Safer Chemicals, will make a business argument for strong reforms that support the industry innovating to create safer and cleaner products.

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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.

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.

8 Major Consumer Brands and WWF Form Alliance to Promote Plant-Based Plastics

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. Coca-Cola, Danone, Ford, Heinz, Nestlé, Nike, P&G, Unilever and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have formed a new organization to support the responsible development of plastics made from plant material and promote a more sustainable future for the bioplastics industry.The Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) will focus on guiding the responsible selection and harvesting of feedstocks — such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush and switchgrass — used to make plastics from agricultural materials.

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?

Driving Innovation: Coke and Ford Unveil Fusion Energi with Interiors Made from PlantBottle Technology™

Cross-Posted from Collaboration. The Coca-Cola Company and Ford Motor Company have teamed up to fuel more sustainable design by collaborating on a first-ever interior fabric made from the same renewable material used to produce Coke’s PlantBottle packaging.

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