July 31, 2008

US Navy gets heated ACs

The US Navy is getting cool by using solar energy.

According to GreenCore Technology, it is installing its solar air conditioners at a remote laboratory site operated by the Naval Research Laboratories (NRL).

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Would you like biogas with your beer?

That refreshing beer your chugging will soon be manufactured using landfill-based gas.

Anheuser-Busch said its brewery in Houston will purchase biogas as an alternative fuel from Allied Waste Services’ nearby McCarty Road landfill.

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Is geothermal better than wind and solar?

Investment news on solar and wind are plentiful but not much on geothermal projects. Still, compared to sporadic energy capacity of wind and solar (estimated around 20-35%), geothermal energy is continuous with more than 70% capacity factor.

So what drags the development of this huge sources of energy coming from the center of the earth?

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Cops and McDonalds

An interesting thing happening in my birth town so I hope my co-blogger BiofuelSimon will forgive me for swiping this news from him.

Cops in Manila, Philippines, are using a new strategy to apprehend criminals....by making them hungry with the smell of french fries coming from their patrol cars.

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July 30, 2008

Soapers respond to UW study

The Soap and Detergent Association sent me an email regarding their response to the University of Washington study about supposed toxic fragrance chemicals found on leading laundry products and air fresheners.

According to them, the study is just a rehash of past studies and that it lacks real-world risk perspective.
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July 29, 2008

A paid "no drilling" ad from WWF

Maybe World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) coffers are deeper than the chemical industry's if they can afford to post an ad in the New York Times about their opposition to Bush's oil drilling approval in Arctic waters and US coasts.

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Toxics in scented laundry, air freshners?

More bad news for consumer products this time in the laundry market (which has seen its big share of public advocates complaints) as well as air fresheners.

A study from the University of Washington (UW) found that chemicals with potential toxicity or health hazards are being used in top selling laundry products and air fresheners, and they are not listed on any product labels that were tested.

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Phthalates ban in toys coming soon

I am traveling today and tomorrow for Evonik's plant groundbreaking event in Mobile, Alabama. The facility will produce alkoxides, which are used as catalysts in biodiesel production.

Aside from the biodiesel industry, Evonik will also give an update on the lithium ion batteries market as well as tidbits on how sea urchins are playing a major role in ensuring clean water for the Mobile area. Those topics should be very interesting to the green chemicals world so stay tune for them.

In the meantime, ICIS News reported yesterday that the US Congress agreed to permanently ban children's products that contain more than 0.1% di-(2 ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).

Kids' products that contain more than 0.1% of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) will be temporarily banned pending further studies.

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July 28, 2008

Bitter accusations on sugar plants

Sugar manufacturer Imperial Sugar is taking offense on the citations and allegations made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) agency regarding the company's workplace safety.

Last week, OSHA issued Imperial Sugar an $8.8m fine, said to be the third largest in OSHA's history, following a sugar refinery explosion in February at the company's Port Wentworth, Georgia, plant. The explosion killed 13 employees and hospitalized 40 others.

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EPA to ban carbofuran pesticide

Then US Environmental Protection Agency said last week that it has identified risks associated with the pesticide carbofuran and is proceeding toward cancelling the pesticide's registration.

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Cosmetic safety in question. Again.

No matter how safe or thoroughly tested cosmetic ingredients are, there's always one (or two or more) that will always be put into question.

Just in time for the summer, the Environmental Working Group claimed that out of nearly 1,000 sunscreen products in the US market, four out of five offer inadequate protection from the sun or contain ingredients that may pose a health risk.

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July 25, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

This week saw a lot of news from the biofuel sector, which I left to my co-blogger Simon Robinson to dissect and analyze. Congratulations as well to Simon for reaching his 1000th post!

To catch up (my fourth post today), here's our green roundup covering from superfruits to clean coal.

HCFC gases still strong in EU
A DuPont-sponsored study reported that 65% of cooling installations in 9 key EU markets continue to function on HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) refrigerant gases. HCFC will be banned in Europe by January 2010.

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Less work days, more green?

Some companies in Massachusetts are experimenting on having shorter work days in order to save energy and fuel costs, according to this article from Boston Globe.

Several government agencies in Sudbury, Winchester, and Concord, New Hampshire, already started some employees on trial four-day workweeks.

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What's today's air forecast in China?

In China, not only do you need forecasts for weather, pollen, UV rays, and wind, you also need to monitor air pollution forecasts especially with the incoming Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Starting July 20, car traffic was restricted in the city in order to to take 50 percent of Beijing’s 3,5 million vehicles off the road - in time to lessen air pollution for the Olympic games.

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Top of the Scrap

Growing up, I used to collect metal scraps (mostly copper and aluminum) from the neighborhood motor shops with my street pals and then sell them to the highest recycler bidder via door to door (since Ebay is not yet around).

Pity I didn't have the entrepreneurial foresight to make it as a business or I might have been included in Alcoa's top scrap suppliers for this year...

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July 24, 2008

EPA gets pesticide lawsuit

I wonder how many lawsuits the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gets each week?

I just got this press release from the group Earthjustice, and they, among a coalition of farmworkers, public health, and environmental groups, filed a lawsuit today against the EPA to stop the use of organochlorine pesticide endosulfan.

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EU bans seal furs

I admit this news is not greatly connected to the chemical industry (except maybe a slight demand decline for dyes and other textile materials) but I can't resist posting it.

The Fur Institute of Canada (FIC) is bristling at yesterday's European Union proposal to ban the import of seal products, stating that Canada has overly abundant seal populations and the ban is inconsistent with World Trade Organization agreements for fair trade.

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Enter the dead zones

The volume of hypoxic zones, also called "dead zones", in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay are expected to be record-setting this summer according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Hypoxia refers to the loss of oxygen in water, which then leads to unsustainable conditions for aquatic plants and animals.

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July 23, 2008

Of mice and men

What's the difference between mice and men?

The difference, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), is that people metabolize and excrete bisphenol-A (in tolerable dosage) far more quickly than rodents.

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Solar news

ICIS Chemical Business, the magazine I work for, recently published two very nice articles about the photovoltaics market. According to Dede Williams, Germany is facing feedstock shortages and competition from cheaper regions, while Ed Zwirn reported a global overview of the industry.

And with that introduction, here are more solar news accumulating in my soon-to-post blog box for the past 2 weeks.

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China and Biomass

Speaking of China again, it seems that biomass could answer (partially at least) two of the country's biggest problems: pollution and energy source.

According to this study from AMBIO (a nonprofit publication of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences), China could reduce pollution as much as 46-60% using biomass-based energy. Currently, only 14% of China's energy is from commercialized biomass.

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July 22, 2008

Humans are to blame?

For those who think global warming is just nature's way of being grumpy, US physicists are saying otherwise and reaffirmed that humans are to blame for the future mess the world is going to be in.

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Green lawyers to the rescue

Preserving the environment is proving to be a profitable venture for lawyers.

In the past few weeks, I've encountered several announcements from law firms stating that they are forming new businesses dedicated to untangling the intricacies of the carbon market.

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Preparing for Olympics

The Chinese government is cleaning up its profile and trying to be more environment-friendly especially with the incoming 2008 Summer Olympics Games in Beijing.

US aluminum producer Alcoa and Chinese bus maker Zhengzhou Yutong Group Co. Ltd. are hoping they could help with their new green buses that will be displayed and road tested during the Olympic games.

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July 21, 2008

What's cheap, green and sweeter than Apple?

It's the new 2-watt CherryPal desktop computer, which reportedly delivers 97% less power consumption (equivalent to your clock radio's power use), has 80% fewer components (less metals and chemicals use compared to standard PCs), and has a decade or more lifespan.

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California wants green buildings

As mentioned last Friday, California's Building Standards Commission adopted the first statewide green building standards in the US which will become mandatory in 2010.

The new building standards aim to reduce energy use in building structures by 15% more than current standards; reduce water usage in commercial and residential buildings ( such as 50% landscape water conservation reduction); encourages the use of recycled materials in carpets and building materials; and identifies various site improvements including parking for hybrid vehicles and better storm water plans.

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July 18, 2008

A Gore-y energy plan?

Ex-vice president Al Gore seems to think that the US is ready and able to eliminate the use of coal, natural gas or petroleum oil in US electricity within 10 years by using alternative energies such as wind, solar and geothermal.

According to his speech yesterday (see the video below), his plan of a carbon-free US electricity by 2018 is achievable and affordable, and will solve our current economic, environmental and national security crises.

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Weekly News Roundup

A busy end to the week with Al Gore giving its "reach for the moon" climate change speech yesterday; California adopting the nation's first statewide green building code; President Bush lifting a decade-old offshore drilling ban; and Australia releasing its long-awaited cap-and-trade carbon schemes.

The blog will talk more about them later (except for the offshore drilling news which was already posted on July 14).

EPA plans carbon capture rules
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a rule that supports technologies to prevent industrial emissions of carbon dioxide such as carbon capture and storage. EPA is requesting public comments on the proposed rule for 120 days.

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July 17, 2008

More green needed for biochems

Thanks to Paul from Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) for alerting me on this hot off the press market study on industrial biotechnology by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

According to the ITC, research and development within the US bio-based chemical industry (including pharmaceuticals) grew strongly from 2004 through 2007, with R&D expenditures reaching $3.4bn last year, much larger than that of liquid biofuels R&D (at $152.5m). A small number of large pharma companies accounted for a larger share of bio-chemical R&D expenditures.

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Video about eco-solutions

I came across this really cool YouTube video from GreenTechnology.com. It features one of CNN's EcoSolutions segment about developments of biobased or energy-reducing electronics by Sony as well as Mohawk carpets made from recycled plastic bottles.

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Green rooftops in vogue

Rooftops made with solar and other energy-reducing, greenhouse gas reducing materials are spreading across the globe.

In Europe, General Motors is building the world's largest rooftop solar photovoltaic power installation to its car assembly plant located in Figueruelas, Zaragoza, Spain.

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Recycling in fashion

Here's one tip on how food/beverage and consumer product companies can have the best giveaways in trade shows and conventions. Best of all they're eco-friendly!

Trenton, New Jersey-based startup firm TerraCycle is upcycling used food wrappers, drink pouches, empty yogurt containers, corks and soda bottles into pencil cases, umbrellas, pouches, bags, garbage cans and shower curtains.

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July 16, 2008

Dirty ships keep out!

Ports from around the world are planning to join the greenhouse gas (GHG) cutters club by implementing their own regulations such as charging higher docking fees to polluting ships.

Port representatives met last week at the C40 World Ports Climate Conference in Rotterdam and started planning on measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve air quality under the World Ports Climate Declaration.

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Snowboarders gone green

Here's a good news for eco-conscious snowboarders:

Bayer Materialscience is now offering the Makboard, a clear, soft flex snowboard made of polycarbonate resin which is 100% recyclable.

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EU proposes eco-product rules

Not content with the industrial, aviation and transportation sectors, European officials are further implementing more green consciousness within consumers and product producers through a new legislative package of proposals launched today that aims towards a more sustainable retail and product manufacturing/consumption environment.

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July 15, 2008

Free green calculators

A media relations from Dow Corning sent me an email today regarding their Molykote Energy Savings calculator. According to the company, the online tool shows potential energy and carbon savings for manufacturing plant managers by using proper lubricants for their equipment.

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Consulting on green consultants

Now that you've noticed the booming business of green consulting, the consulting firm Verdantix is warning buyers about the pitfalls in green consulting especially those covering the climate change business.
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Green market studies

Here are several draft-clogging press releases from market research (and consulting) firms as well as various organizations analyzing green trends, clean energy and other new green technologies.

These research and consulting firms seem to be churning out new green studies every month or so.
  • Frost & Sullivan said 2/3 of the European renewable energy market comes from biomass sources because of their competitive price. The consulting firm also looked at the expected 30% growth of Europe's green buildings market in the next 10 years. In the transportation sector, Frost & Sullivan expects around 250,000 electric vehicles will be sold in Europe by 2015.
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More sustainability at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is polishing its green image with more sustainability activities.

Yesterday, the company announced that it joined the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Global Forest and Trade Network, which aims to eradicate global illegal logging. Wal-Mart said it plans to phase out illegal wood sources from its supply chain and increase its proportion of wood products from credibly certified sources.

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July 14, 2008

US offshore drilling un-banned

Just saw this news from ICIS that President Bush is lifting an executive ban on offshore drilling that has long stood since his dad was president.

The presidential offshore development ban was put in place by the first President Bush in 1990 while Congress also banned oil and gas drilling off the US east and west coasts as well as almost all of Alaska's coastline since 1981.

The US Congress is yet to lift its ban and until they do so, no drilling is still allowed.

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Nightmare on Sesame Street

With closer scrutiny on lead-contained toy products, you might think that your kids' toys might now be safe but retailers, product manufacturers and ultimately consumers should also consider each product's complete life cycle analysis not just raw materials but including labor and manufacturing environment. Isn't that what companies now call sustainability?

According to a report from the US watchdog group National Labor Committee (NLC), a new Sesame Street "Ernie" toy to be released tomorrow in the US and Europe is made in an abusive sweatshop at the Kai Da Toy Factory in Shenzhen, China.

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Where's your old celphone?

According to a survey by Nokia, only 3% of the people they interviewed in 13 countries recycled their old mobile phones, 4% threw them in the landfill, and a majority left them on drawers or other places at home to gather dust.

Others sell their used devices or passed them to families and friends.

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Carbon capture needed

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are very much needed to reduce one-third of the world's global carbon dioxide emissions, according to a report from the Boston Consulting Group.

The consulting group said an initial subsidy of €100 billion would proceed CCS development as the carbon price stabilized.

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July 11, 2008

Rubber scraps for kids

Kids in Iowa will probably appreciate the feel of newly recycled rubber tiles on their tiny feet in their playgrounds courtesy of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB), and GreenMan Technologies's subsidiary Welch Products.

The partnership's Iowa Scrap Tire Program is expected to reuse 500,000 pounds of recycled rubber to more than 20 playgrounds.

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California wants green floors

California's new 1% VOC-limit standards effective 2011 has driven JohnsonDiversey to reformulate its floor finish line Signature ultra.

The company says the reformulated product has reduced VOC (volatile organic compounds) content by 40%.

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Weekly News Roundup

The chemical world is going crazy with two multi-billion dollars M&A deals this week: Dow acquiring Rohm and Haas (yesterday), and Ashland acquiring Hercules (this morning). I'm sure we can find some green angle in there somewhere especially with Rohm and Haas recently putting out lots of news on their environment-friendly paints and coatings.

For now, here's this week's green news roundup:

Cargill's big soy polyols plant
Cargill has broken ground on its soybean-based BiOH polyols plant in Chicago, said to be the first world-scale biopolyols production facility. Cargill said that for every 1 million pounds of BiOH polyols that replace petroleum polyols, 2,200 barrels of crude oil are saved.

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July 10, 2008

Media lessons on plastics

The chemical industry must really be getting irritated by the continued sensationalism of supposed toxic consumer products (especially brought on by the media).

I just got this email from the American Chemistry Council stating the facts about phthalates on consumer products:

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Hybrids do not make financial sense?

Sales might be up for hybrids but according to this study only a handful of hybrid cars make solid financial sense.

The vehicle pricing and information site NADAguides.com said consumers who are thinking of purchasing a hybrid car solely to save money on gas should calculate the number of miles they drive per year and their typical per gallon gas price in order to to recoup the extra cost of buying a hybrid car over its gasoline-only counterpart.

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Toyota sets up US hybrid plant

US demand for hybrid vehicles must really be booming as Toyota planned to start manufacturing its hybrid car Prius in Blue Springs, Miss., late next year.

According to the company, global sales of Prius have passed its 1 million mark this year, with approximately 1,028,000 units sold as of the end of April.

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July 9, 2008

Are you an eco-citizen?

Kudos to our friend 'Baser' from ICIS Connect (a global community forum site for the chemicals industry) who found this eco-quiz by France-based chemical company Arkema.

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G8's global warming thoughts

The White House released this morning a statement from the G8 nations and major emerging economies about their vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions and achieving a low carbon world full of peace and harmony.

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