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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

Survey: Packaging Pros Have Limited Understanding of Biz Impacts of Resource Scarcity

Packaging professionals within consumer packaged goods companies report growing awareness around the business impacts connected to natural resource scarcity, but robust knowledge and understanding is still absent, according to a recent survey by Tetra Pak.Last month, Tetra Pak surveyed 120 sales, marketing, R&D, purchasing and other packaging professionals within the consumer packaged goods industry to explore industry perceptions around company resource management practices, especially in light of diminishing finite natural resources combined with population growth and increased consumer demand for packaged goods.

The Evidence Is Clear: Consumers Want More Sustainable Packaging Options

With the holiday season upon us, millions of shoppers are in the midst of purchasing wrapping paper and packaging for their gifts this year. What might surprise many is how much consumer commitment towards environmentally sustainable packaging has increased.

Purdue Researchers Turn Biomass Waste into Valuable Chemical Products

A team of researchers from Purdue University's Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels (C3Bio) has developed a new catalytic process that converts biomass waste into chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets, reports.The process uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin—a durable and complex molecule that gives the plant cell wall its rigid structure—into valuable chemical commodities.

Study Finds Toxic Chemicals in Many Seasonal Holiday Decor Products

A research study released today finds that top retailers of holiday decor continue to sell seasonal products containing hazardous chemicals. The research found that two-thirds of tested products had one or more hazardous chemicals that have been linked to serious health effects. The study is an update to and expansion of research done in 2010 and 2013 by (a project of the Ann Arbor-based nonprofit organization, the Ecology Center), which found high levels of chemical hazards in string lights, garlands and other decorative products.

Companies Boosting Profits by Leasing Chemicals

The traditional business model of chemical suppliers selling their products in the largest possible quantities, while profitable, encourages the overuse of chemicals and places a strain on human health and the environment. But another model has emerged that decouples payment from consumption.Chemical leasing is a business model in which chemical manufacturers and distributors charge for the function that the chemicals perform rather than selling chemicals. Companies that use the chemicals pay for the service that the chemicals provide instead of buying the chemical. The model reduces the waste and inefficiency that often occur with the conventional approach to buying and handling chemicals.

Ecover Partners with Sonoco on Plant-Based Plastic Bottles for New North American Cleaning Products

Ecover, the world's largest maker of non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products, has teamed up with packaging producer Sonoco for a series of plant-based plastic bottles for its new North American home care line.

Google, Facebook Flex Market Muscle in Favor of Healthier Building Materials

Google, Facebook, Genentech and several other companies and organizations comprising a working group of The Building Health Initiative are actively using their collective market influence to create demand for new and innovative products that improve the health of the built environment.The working group, which also include Adobe, CalPERS, Kaiser Permanente, Troon Pacific and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Mission Bay, met on Thursday at the inaugural Building Health Forum at UCSF.

Pantry Pest Could Provide Potential Solution to Plastic Problem

While companies around the world continue to innovate to find solutions to our ‘plastic problem’ — from creating biodegradable plant-based plastics to compete with their conventional counterparts to developing depolymerization processes to degrade said counterparts — another solution could exist in the belly of a worm.

Dow, Nestlé UK, Unilever Researching New Options for Recycling Flexible Packaging

Nestlé UK and Unilever are among organizations coming together on a new project aiming to improve the recyclability of flexible packaging products, in the hope of pushing the resource industry closer towards a circular economic approach.

New Tool Measures Corporate Progress Towards Safer Chemicals

A group of corporate and NGO leaders today released a new tool for assessing leadership in corporate chemicals management.The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) provides the first-ever common metric of its kind for publicly benchmarking corporate chemicals management and profiling leadership companies. The CFP will enable purchasers to preferentially select suppliers and investors to integrate chemical risk into their sustainability analyses and investments. Its results enable brands to market their progress and success in using safer chemicals.

BASF, Schuster Developing Greaseproof, Recyclable Cardboard for Fast Food Packaging

BASF and recycled cardboard company Schuster have announced they are working on a solution for a combined migration and grease barrier on recycled cardboard.The biopolymer ecovio® PS 1606 is applied to recycled cardboard in an extrusion coating process. This enables the proportion of recycled paper fibers in fast food packaging to be increased while simultaneously making it industrially compostable. The polymer coating applied to the cardboard is several times thinner than a human hair, but provides the packaging with good protection against potential migration of undesired substances while also offering high greaseproofness and liquid tightness. This cardboard is more than 90 percent biobased, recyclable and industrially compostable.

VTT Developing Eco-Friendly Alternative for Polystyrene

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has announced it is developing an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative for polystyrene from PLA bioplastic, which is derived from organic sources.Although expanded polystyrene (EPS) is currently used all over the world as a light packaging and insulation material, it poses a significant waste problem. The annual production volume of EPS is 5 to 6 million tons per year, and the non-biodegradable material typically ends up on waste tips or is disposed of by burning, which results in toxic compounds.

UK Researchers Cleaning Mine Water with Algae

The GW4 Alliance—a consortium of four leading research universities in the South West of England and Wales—has announced a new project to clean up water from a Cornish tin mine using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals and produce biofuel at the same time.Researchers from universities in Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, in collaboration with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), are now working with the Coal Authority and Veolia to take untreated mine water samples from Wheal Jane tin mine in Cornwall into the laboratory and grow algae in them. The research will explore whether algae is effective in removing materials such as arsenic and cadmium from the mine water.

Plum Organics Joins GreenBlue's How2Recycle Label Program

GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition announced this week that Plum Organics is the latest company to join its How2Recycle Label program. Plum joins 30 other participating companies — including most recently, Kellogg and McDonald’s — committed to educating consumers on packaging recyclability by providing clear on-package instructions.

UK Scientists Say New Form of Carbon Graphite Could Revolutionize Renewable Energy, EVs

A recently discovered form of carbon graphite has a completely unexpected property that scientists say could revolutionize the development of renewable energy and electric cars.According to results published in the journal Nature, researchers at the University of Manchester have discovered that graphene — a one-atom-thick layer of graphite — allows positively charged hydrogen atoms (protons) to pass through it, despite being completely impermeable to all other gases. This could have amazing implications for the efficiency of fuel cells and other hydrogen-based technologies as they require a barrier that only allows protons to pass through.

Novelis 'Creating Value' by Increasing Closed-Loop Recycling, Reducing Carbon Emissions

Novelis’ recently released Fiscal Year 2014 sustainability report shows the aluminum rolling and recycling giant making significant investments and strides to advance the circular economy and increase the sustainability of its business, the aluminum industry and its broader value chain.

Carbios Makes New Advances in Reduction of Plastic Waste Through Enzymatic Depolymerization

Carbios, a French green chemistry company specializing in technologies dedicated to the recovery of plastic waste and the production of bio-polymers, recently announced that it has successfully managed to depolymerize 90 percent of polylactic acid (PLA) material — a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, commonly used in everything from chip bags to toothpaste tubes — in only 48 hours, using its cutting-edge enzymatic process.

SC Johnson Highlights Lower GHGs and Waste, Higher Ingredient Transparency in 2014 Sustainability Report

In its just-released 2014 sustainability report, SC Johnson details progress on its environmental goals — including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent and manufacturing waste by 71 percent since 2000 — as well as significant advancements in ingredient transparency through its SC Johnson Greenlist™ process.

AkzoNobel and Partners Considering Sugar Beets as Renewable Chemical Feedstock

AkzoNobel has joined forces with SuikerUnie, Rabobank, Deloitte, Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), Groningen Seaports, and the Province of Groningen to investigate the possibility of producing chemicals from beet-derived sugar feedstock.The parties have asked Deloitte to perform a feasibility study to provide an independent critical review and economic assessment on the viability of several business cases for commercial production in the Delfzijl chemical cluster in the Netherlands.

Survey: Consumers Hate Product Waste More Than Going to the Dentist

This week, LiquiGlide Inc. — creator of a coating for the insides of food containers that helps coax out every last drop — released survey results that clearly illustrate consumers' intense dislike of product waste.