The latest developments in safe and sustainable chemicals, new materials, fuels, and more.
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.
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.
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, 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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Cross-Posted from Waste Not. A Dutch wastewater treatment facility (WWTP) and paper mill are testing out a new sewage recycling system that reduces sludge formation by half, cuts operational costs by 30 percent, significantly increases treatment capacity and yields biosolids that can be used in a host of applications.Developed in Israel, Applied CleanTech’s Sewage Recycling System (SRS) converts the bio-solids found in wastewater into Recyllose — a new sterilized product based on cellulose extracted from the wastewater, which is automatically packed into a reusable commodity and transported to paper, construction, plastic and energy industries.Allow us to provide a visual aid:
UK-based Biome Bioplastics has announced its new biodegradable coffee pod, the latest in a spate of innovations lessening the environmental impact of the roughly $6.6 billion single-serve market.According to Biome, an estimated 9.1 billion single-serve coffee and drink cartridges wind up in U.S. landfills every year — thanks to the roughly 50 different single-serve coffee makers on the market — amounting to some 19 million cubic feet of waste. The company says coffee-pod machines are also becoming increasingly popular in Britain, with a 45 percent surge in usage between February 2012 and 2013, equating to roughly 186 million capsules.
The upcoming Sochi 2014 Olympics will be the first in history to achieve carbon neutrality, according to a recent announcement by The Dow Chemical Company, the Official Carbon Partner for the Games. This includes carbon footprints associated with the travel of athletes, spectators and media from all over the world traveling to Russia for the Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games, between February and March 2014 — amounting to roughly 160,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
Each week leading up to our SB London conference, where the winner of the SB London Innovation Open (SBIOL) will be announced on November 18, we will get to know each of our four finalists. This week, meet PulpWorks.
Cross-Posted from Collaboration. DuPont Industrial Biosciences, in collaboration with Huntsman Corporation — a global provider of textile dyes and chemicals — recently announced the results of a case study that demonstrates the benefits of its Gentle Power Bleach™, powered by DuPont’s PrimaGreen® EcoWhite enzymatic bleaching technology. The study, conducted between 2006 and 2012, measured significant reductions in water use, energy consumption and chemical use coupled with notable increases in product quality and yield.
Procter & Gamble has developed a new process to mold plastic that it claims is thinner, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than the current industry standard and could save the company $1 billion a year by using less plastic and different raw materials.The company says it plans to use the material for its own products and its patent applications and may also sell it to other marketers from non-competitive package-goods players to automotive giants.
Royal DSM, the global life sciences and materials sciences company, announced last week that in-depth testing has proven that Genomatica’s renewable form of the organic compound 1,4-butanediol (BDO) has excellent purity and shows equivalent performance as fossil-based BDO. The company says using BDO made with Genomatica's bio-based process technology in its Arnitel thermoplastic products can increase Arnitel's bio-based content up to 73%; because of this and its level of performance, DSM says it considers the renewable BDO a suitable raw material for commercial production of Arnitel.
Cross-Posted from Waste Not. Italian biotech firm Bio-on has developed a bioplastic called PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate), made from agricultural processing waste materials, which is 100 percent biodegradable in water and soil and can be used as a substrate for electric circuits. When combined with suitable nanofillers, the polymer can act as an electricity conductor, with the potential of replacing plastics in most electronics.The company says the use of PHAs can help put a dent in the 50 million tons of waste produced worldwide every year from discarded smartphones, tablets, computers and other electronics.