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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging

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

Why Dirty Cigarette Butts Could Become a Clean Energy Storage Solution

A team of South Korean scientists has converted cigarette butts into a valuable material that they say could be used as an energy storage device in computers, electrical vehicles, wind turbines and various handheld devices.As reported by the Institute of Physics (IOP), and published in their journal Nanotechnology, the researchers demonstrated that the material proved superior to commercially used alternatives such as carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes. The breakthrough could represent a win-win — acting as an electrical storage device while providing a solution to the increasing environmental burden caused by used cigarette filters.

BASF's Ultramid Joins Revolution of Renewable Packaging Solutions

BASF has developed a versatile, high-performance polyamide called Ultramid®, which is derived from renewable raw materials — the company says it replaces up to 100 percent of the fossil-based resources used at the beginning of the integrated production process with certified biomass.“Consumer demand for products made of renewable raw materials continues to rise,” says Joachim Queisser, SVP of the Polyamides and Precursors Europe regional business unit. “This offering opens excellent possibilities for packaging film manufacturers to market their products accordingly.”

New Brochure Explains Packaging’s Role in Reducing Food Waste

The American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN) has published a new brochure called Reducing Fresh Food Waste: The Role of Packaging.The free brochure explains that Americans throw away 36 million tons of food each year, worth $162 billion, and says that “one factor accounts for about two-thirds of the problem: spoilage from not being used on time.”It says that better packaging can help alleviate spoilage and other forms of waste and lists all the benefits it offers:

AkzoNobel Creates World's First Fully Compostable, Recyclable Paper Cup

Thanks to the company’s new coatings technology EvCote™ Water Barrier 3000 — made from plant-based oils and recycled PET bottles — companies and consumers can now select a more sustainable cup in which to serve cold drinks. The company says the cups don’t require any modification in the current recycle stream or special handling and are fully compostable and recyclable.

Scientists: We Should Dispose of Sofas Like We Do E-Waste

A group of scientists at the University of Birmingham is calling for soft furnishings to be discarded with the same caution as electronics. Waste from soft furnishings such as curtains, cushions and sofas contain brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which have been shown to damage the environment and human health.In the United Kingdom, at least two thirds of electronic waste (e-waste) must be treated before it can enter landfill. However, the millions of tons of furniture and textile waste disposed of by UK households each year currently goes unregulated. Most of this waste ends up in landfill, while the rest is incinerated.

Nanomaterials — The Answer for a Sustainable Tire Industry?

A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says that the use of new nanomaterials in tire production could help further the sustainability of the industry and reduce the environmental impact of vehicles, provided the environmental, health and safety risks of the technology are managed carefully.

Genomatica Developing Bio-Based Processes for Nylon Intermediates

Sustainable chemical technology company Genomatica, which develops manufacturing processes using alternative feedstocks that enable its licensee partners to produce the world’s most widely-used chemicals a ‘better way,’ announced this morning that major nylon intermediates — including hexamethylenediamine, caprolactam and adipic acid (HMD, CPL and ADA) — are the focus of its third publicly disclosed development program. Genomatica is developing complete process technologies for the bio-based production of these intermediates to license to major firms in the nylon value chain.

Solazyme and AkzoNobel Expand Algal Oil Partnership

Solazyme, Inc, a pioneer in renewable oils and bioproducts, and AkzoNobel, a global producer of paint, coatings and specialty chemicals, announced today they have expanded their previous agreement for the joint development of Tailored™ algal oils. The expansion provides for funded development, as well as agreed key terms for a multi-year supply agreement targeting annual supply of up to 10,000 MT of the oils, pending successful product development.The parties expect that the algal oil will be able to replace both petroleum- and palm oil-derived chemicals. The target product is designed to have improved functional and environmental performance, as well as a lower overall cost to AkzoNobel.

The Road to Renewable Raw Materials Is Paved with Strategic Partnerships

As the demand to reduce carbon-based raw materials intensifies, companies are not only looking at how they can reduce their consumption, but also at how they can find appropriate replacements for fossil fuel-based raw materials.To meet this challenge, a number of forward-thinking companies in the chemicals industry are developing strategies aimed at driving a successful transition to renewable alternatives. But how do companies successfully manage this transition? And what are the challenges?

Carbios Announces Milestone in Controlled Biodegradation Process for Disposable Soft Plastics

Carbios, a French green chemistry company specializing in technologies enabling the recovery of plastic waste and the production of bio-polymers, has announced a significant step forward in the development of its controlled biodegradation process for disposable soft plastics.With its new process, Carbios says it obtained completely biodegradable plastic material in domestic conditions. The material, comprised of an oil-based polymer and an enzyme, loses 50 percent of its mass in 15 days and completely biodegrades in less than three months, making Carbios’ technology an effective potential industrial answer to legal concerns around how to better control the end of life of disposable and short-life plastics.

Södra, James Cropper Unveil 100% Renewable, Biodegradable Alternative to Plastic

UK specialty paper and advanced materials manufacturer James Cropper PLC — which has developed breakthrough processes for recycling cocoa husk waste into paper and for recycling both the paper and plastic components of disposable coffee cups — has unveiled a sustainable alternative to plastic that the company says can carry the weight of an adult and be composted within 100 days. Developed in partnership with Södra, a Swedish forestry cooperative, DuraPulp is a bio-composite material that consists of specially selected pulp and a renewable biopolymer.

New Research Says Biostimulation Can Help Produce Algae 300 Times Faster

A research team at AlgaStar Inc, a Florida-based algae cultivation company, has reported that biological simulation has yielded a 300 percent increase in algae growth rate over normal conditions. Based on findings presented by AlgaStar CEO John Ericsson at the 2013 Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, the research conducted at AlgaStar and recently initiated at Los Alamos National Laboratory has begun to map the conditions under which biostimulation enhances growth rate and metabolism for several biological cultures with microwave energy.

Biogen Idec Says It Will Reduce Its GHGs 80% by 2020

In its fifth annual Corporate Citizenship Report, released this week, biotech company Biogen Idec puts forward an aggressive set of 2020 goals, including reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 80 percent (compared to its 2006 baseline and normalized by revenue), maintaining its zero waste-to-landfill status (achieved in 2012), and developing a new water-intensity goal, to be released by 2015. The GHG reductions will be equivalent to maintaining 2006 levels of GHG emissions despite significant realized and anticipated business growth.

New Tetra Pak Campaign Encourages Industry-Wide Commitment to Renewable Packaging

Tetra Pak has launched a campaign to raise industry awareness of the importance of the front end of the packaging life cycle — the sourcing of renewable materials — and is calling on the consumer goods industry to commit to prioritizing renewability.

Sainsbury's, M&S Lead Effort to Recycle 1.3 Billion Plastic Food Trays Annually

Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer (M&S) are leading a consortium of UK packaging, retail and recycling organizations to launch a market trial aimed at recycling as many as 1.3 billion plastic food trays each year.The campaign focuses on reducing waste from black CPET trays, which are commonly used in supermarket ready meals. The trays are recyclable, but the black color of the trays makes them undetectable with Near Infra-Red optical sorting equipment typically used at plastic sorting and recycling facilities.

Dow Challenging People to Become Better Recyclers

Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics has launched a campaign called Recycle Rally — A 30-Day Recycling Challenge, to inspire people to cultivate daily recycling behaviors.

Walmart, Bumble and Bumble Fined for VOC Emissions

Walmart, Bumble and Bumble and 17 other companies have been fined by the California Air Resources Board for air pollution violations. Bumble and Bumble received the highest penalty of $88,000 followed by Walmart at $34,000 out of a total of $233,175 of fines.The 19 companies were involved in the manufacturing or selling of consumer products - ranging from nail polish removers and bathroom cleaners to charcoal lighter materials and air fresheners - which exceeded California’s standards for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases that contribute to ozone formation once released into the air. The violations amounted to over 11 tons of excess VOC emissions.

Recycle Across America, Participant Media Determined to Get Us to 'Recycle Right!'

Recycle Across America® (RAA), a nonprofit that has developed the first and only society-wide standardized labeling system for recycling bins to help eliminate the public confusion surrounding recycling, has joined forces with Participant Media on a social action campaign called Recycle Right!, focused on transforming recycling and improving the economics and prevalence of sustainable packaging and manufacturing.

Defra Study Funding Coke, Tesco, Nestlé to Boost Recycling of Aluminum Packaging

Coca-Cola Enterprises, Tesco and Nestlé UK & Ireland are among the companies being funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to develop viable approaches for collecting flexible packaging materials containing aluminum to improve the recycling and remanufacture of the material.Flexible laminate packaging — such as toothpaste tubes and pet food sachets — often contains valuable aluminium and various recyclable plastics, which can be difficult to collect and separate for viable recycling.

'Valuing Plastic' Illustrates Critical Need for Companies to Disclose Data on Plastic Use

Companies could become more sustainable by improving the way they measure, manage and report the amount of plastic they use in their business operations and supply chains, according to groundbreaking new research by the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), the UN Environment Programme and natural capital analysts Trucost.