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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

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University of Nebraska Engineers Creating Textiles from Corn Husks

Corn may soon join the ranks of cotton and wool in the natural fiber world: A team at the University of Nebraska's Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design is busy at work developing textiles from corn husks. On a recent segment of QUEST, a multimedia series with a new focus on exploring the science of sustainability, the team explains the process as separating lignocellulose fibers (complex and woody biopolymers) from the husk and spinning it into yarn.“If you look at history, textiles are agriculture. And Nebraska is the place we have lots of corn,” says Yiqi Yang, a biochemical engineer at the University.

Ecover Using Algal Oil to Develop First Palm Oil-Free Laundry Liquid

Sustainable cleaning products giant Ecover announced this week it is developing an algae-based laundry liquid as part of its goal to cut the use of palm oil in all of its products.Palm oil has become a huge topic of concern for NGOs, brands and consumers alike. The ubiquitous oil and its by-products are used in hundreds of packaged food, personal care and cleaning products — as demand has continued to increase, its production has become the largest single driver of deforestation in South East Asia and parts of Africa and South America.

Clariant Joins BASF, AkzoNobel in Chem Industry Sustainability Initiative

On Thursday, Swiss specialty chemicals giant Clariant announced it is the newest member of “Together for Sustainability” (TfS), a chemical industry initiative founded in 2011 aimed at improving sustainability practices within its supply chains.

Greif Jerry Can Wins Manufacturing Leadership Sustainability Award

Industrial packaging products and services firm Greif has received the 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Award (ML Award) in Sustainability for its DoubleGreen™ COEX 10-liter plastic jerry can. This is one of the first sustainable multilayer 10-liter plastic jerry cans made from a renewable resource, sugarcane, with a stackable design that eliminates the need for a carton during transport.The DoubleGreen COEX 10-liter plastic jerry is comprised of over 50 percent polyethylene that is derived from sugarcane ethanol. The can, produced in Brazil, creates a closed-loop system approach from agribusiness to agribusiness. Based upon the main Brazil agrochemical market volume, the use of sugarcane ethanol is estimated to eliminate roughly 1,390 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

McDonald's USA Becomes First Restaurant Chain to Join GreenBlue's How2Recycle Label Program

GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) announced this week that McDonald’s USA is the newest participant in its How2Recycle Label Program. A member of the SPC since 2005, McDonald’s is the first national restaurant chain to join How2Recycle, a program dedicated to clearly and consistently communicating recyclability to the public.

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How AkzoNobel Is Using Open Innovation to Drive Change in Transportation

The movement of people and goods is crucial to the world economy. Globally, the transportation sector is expected to continue growing, with a geographic shift of demand and manufacturing to the developing economies. But with this growth, environmental concerns are also increasing: Presently, more than 60 percent of the 87 million barrels of oil consumed daily power the world’s transportation sector, and liquid fossil fuels account for 94 percent of the energy supply to the sector.

LAUNCH Nordic Enlists IKEA, Novozymes in Quest for Sustainable Materials

LAUNCH — the strategic collaboration between NASA, NIKE, Inc., the US Department of State and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) — announced Friday it has added the expertise of a host of Scandinavian innovators in its continued search for sustainable materials. LAUNCH teamed up with Nordic-based companies IKEA, Novozymes, Kvadrat, Arla and a number of government institutions to announce LAUNCH Nordic, an initial step in taking the LAUNCH process to innovators around the world.

DTSC Challenging Manufacturers to Make Products Safer

On Thursday, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) challenged manufacturers to make their products safer and dramatically change the way consumers are protected from potential toxic harm.As a key step in its Safer Consumer Products regulations, DTSC is announcing three draft “priority products” — consumer goods sold in California that each contain at least one toxic chemical — and asking manufacturers to find a safer alternative.The three products are:

New Food and Beverage Industry Group Aims to Boost Packaging Recycling in Scotland

A group of food, beverage and packaging giants has come together to collaborate with the Scottish government to help boost packaging recycling and provide partnership support for waste reduction and anti-littering programs. The Packaging Recycling Group Scotland (PRGS) aims to assist Scotland in raising recycling awareness while increasing recycling rates and quality. Supporters include Coca-Cola Enterprises, TetraPak, Britvic, Red Bull and the British Plastics Foundation.

HP's New Packaging Partnership Aims to Turn Straw Into Savings

Hewlett-Packard has teamed up with global packaging company YFY Jupiter for a new initiative that will use straw waste to create packaging material for its products. The program will create multifold benefits for HP — reduced costs, better protection for its products and reduced long-term environmental impacts to cite a few.

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Walmart Implements Policy to Remove Harmful Chemicals from Consumer Products

Walmart has informed dozens of product manufacturers throughout its supply chain that it is now implementing its new policy to phase out hazardous chemicals from its consumer products, announced late last year.

LEGO Seeking Sustainable Alternative to Its Trademark Brick Material

LEGO told Plastics News this week that it is looking for a sustainable alternative to Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), the plastic resin used in its signature bricks, by 2030.LEGO’s senior project manager Allan Rasmussen told PN that, not only must the selected material be able to meet the same characteristics as the original locking building blocks, the new bricks must also blend seamlessly with previous generations of bricks already in use.

Testing the 'CVS Effect' on Microbeads: Could L'Oréal & Unilever Be Bolder?

Recent commitments from L'Oréal, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and P&G to phase microbeads out of their products by (or before) 2017 is laudable and a good step forward. This news responds to scientific research linking the tiny, polystyrene balls to Great Lakes pollution.

EU Initiative Developing Plastic Packaging Made from Wastewater

An EU-funded program is developing a method for making plastic packaging from the fermented wastewater of processed juice, which could save the beverage industry millions while tapping into growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products.Through the PHBOTTLE project, researchers are working to create value from industrial residues by developing them into a new biodegradable material. The project is focusing on juice-processing wastewater because it contains high concentrations of organic substances, including fermentable sugars such as glucose, fructose and maltose.

Sustainable Packaging Market to Hit $244 Billion by 2018

Consumer demand, government legislation and technology advances will propel sustainable packaging to a $244 billion market by 2018, according to a new report by Smithers Para.The Future of Sustainable Packaging to 2018 details market sizes, projections and five-year sustainable packaging trends to 2018, focusing on key drivers, trends and technologies shaping the sustainable packaging industry. The report breaks down sales by type, end-use market and geographic region, and provides comprehensive coverage of the global market and supply chain.

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Beer Store Recycles More Packaging Than It Sells, Saves Ontarians $40M

The Beer Store, a privately owned chain of retail outlets selling beer and other malt beverages across Ontario, Canada has announced that it has saved the province $40 million in the last year, thanks to its bottle recycling system and the cooperation of many Ontarians.

American Cleaning Institute Rolls Out Sustainable Products Initiative

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), the nonprofit trade association representing over 120 companies in the US cleaning products industry — including BASF, Clorox, Dow, Novozymes, Method, Seventh Generation, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever, to name a few — has launched a new voluntary initiative to promote and demonstrate continual improvement in the cleaning products industry’s sustainability profile.

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.

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