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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

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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.

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.

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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.

Greenpeace Chastising Brands for Toxic World Cup Gear

With less than a month to go before the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Greenpeace Germany has released a new report indicting adidas, Nike and Puma for producing soccer gear with hazardous chemicals after testing 33 items including boots, goalkeeper gloves and the official “Brazuca” ball, for a range of substances.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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