May 30, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

The global green industry has been very busy this week from companies forming new green businesses to the introduction of the world's first renewable gasoline.

New slimy gasoline
Sapphire Energy said it has produced 91 octane gasoline made from algae. The gasoline is said to meet ASTM standards and completely compatible with the existing petroleum infrastructure, from refinement through distribution and the retail supply chain.

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Nigeria energized by dust

Wood waste and sawdust could refuel Nigeria's sawmill industry.

London-based Ravonergy is building a 14 megawatt biomass-based energy power plant that will utilize wood waste and sawdust generated from the country's saw mill industry.

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More sunny news

There are too many solar news this week to put them in my Weekly News Roundup.

But first, according to a recent report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the US solar energy market last year saw photovoltaic manufacturing increased 74% led by thin-film production. Big-box retail stores led the PV installation boom including Wal-Mart,Best Buy, Home Depot and others. The US is said to be the fourth largest market after Germany, Japan, and Spain.

Another report from the Tioga Energy titled "Hedging Against Utility Rate Fluctuations with a Solar PPA" analyzed the cost-savings of solar energy in the long run.


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May 29, 2008

From trash to cash

Here's a new report from IBISWorld listing the industries that are cashing in on American's poor environmental habits.

Revenue from the waste collection industry is said to have risen 4.5 percent to $39.87 billion, following several strong years in terms of increased demand for waste management services. Recycling facilities currently generate estimated revenues of $2,981 million a year, and growth has exceeded 7 percent per year for the past five years due to rising waste volumes and increasing recyclable commodity prices.

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Constructing a booming market

Whether green buildings will be voluntary or mandated in New Jersey, the overall green construction trend is booming despite the US housing slump.

Green home building has already gone mainstream and is expected to be worth $12 to $20 billion (6%-10% of the market) this year, according to a new report from McGraw-Hill. The report said that 40% of builders think green building helps them market their homes in a down market.

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A greener Garden State?

Should New Jersey lawmakers require new buildings in the state to be green?

According to an environmental attorney at the law firm LeClairRyan, they should think twice before mandating green buildings in New Jersey, where several bills are already working their way through the state's legislature.

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May 28, 2008

Europe launches green driving

A Europe-wide campaign promoting green driving tips was recently launched by the European Commission in association with the European Petroleum Industry Association (EUROPIA).

Under the "Save more than fuel" campaign, over 45,000 petrol stations across 29 European countries will distribute around 30 million leaflets containing 10 driving tips (seems more paper waste to me).

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The real meaning of green packaging

The US glass industry wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to tighten the guidelines for recycled packaging marketing claims under the agency's new Green Guides rules.

According to the Glass Packaging Institute, several marketers are inappropriately using the term recyclable such as in trash bags where it is unlikely to be used again once it is thrown out in the garbage, and in multi-layer aluminum and plastic-coated paperboard packaging products where recycling facilities rarely exists in the US for such products.

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EU steel under carbon fire

The German steel industry could buckle under the competitive pressure driven by Europe's carbon emission trading.

According to steel maker ThyssenKrupp, steel production outside Europe is not being impacted by costs for CO2 certificates leading to a divergence in competitive conditions. As a consequence, the industry could abandon Europe as a production location.

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May 27, 2008

Heinz' green potatoes and tomatoes

Heinz is planning to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2015 some of them via its potatoes and tomatoes operations.

Some of the initiatives include converting potato peels into biofuels as well as recycling 90% of the water used in daily potato production...

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US officials introduced kid-safe chemical bill

Proliferating news on leaching chemicals in kids' mattresses, bottles, toys, and electronics have driven three government officials to introduce a new US chemical regulatory proposal targeting kid safety.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and representatives Hilda Solis (D-Ca) and Henry Waxman (D-Ca) introduced the 'Kid Safe Chemicals Act of 2008' that would ensure for the first time that all the chemicals used in baby bottles, children’s toys and other products are proven to be safe before they are put on the market.

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May 23, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

The blog is going to be off on Monday celebrating Memorial Day in the US, and Bank Holiday in the UK. To quell readers' disappointments, here are some of this week's news roundup to fill your green needs until the blog returns.

Hot R&D center
Dow Corning opened its new $3m solar module and assembly application center in Freeland, Michigan. The facility will collaborate with customers to develop, evaluate and pilot materials solutions used to manufacture solar panels.

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Trashy stories from Reuters

Caught your attention didn't it? Here's several titillating articles (especially if you're in the waste business) from Reuters on the growing issues and potential profitability of rubbish.

1. Trash and burn: Singapore's waste problem - With growing population and little land mass, Singapore needs to find new ways to eliminate waste as alternative to incineration, and fast.

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May 22, 2008

A solution to road hazardous waste

It was remiss of us (ICIS Chemical Business, the magazine I work for) not to include this important news in our next week's logistics issue. To compensate, I decided to put this as the blog's green feature of the week!

Presenting:
The revolutionary Ipee, a disposable, biodegradable, single-use urine device. It converts the urine into a solid in seconds utilizing an organic absorbent.

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Don't play around with GreenPeace

There will be no peace for game console manufacturers unless they fully comply to GreenPeace's demand.

According to the group's new study "Playing Dirty", three major electronic manufacturers continue to use chemicals and materials GreenPeace deems hazardous in the game consoles Wii (Nintendo), Playstation (Sony) and Xbox (Microsoft).

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May 21, 2008

ExxonMobil on green defense

ExxonMobil shareholders seem to think that the oil company is lagging behind competitors when dealing with climate change.

Several major investors, which include ExxonMobil's largest share owners plan to vote next week in a resolution that will force the company to address climate change risks. The investors hold over 91 million ExxonMobil shares currently valued at more than $8.6bn.

Come to think of it, I did not hear any presentations from ExxonMobil nor saw any representatives from the company when I last attended BIO's World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Processing. But maybe this is just a coincidence...

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The new Jet Green


JetBlue is changing its color to green through its new environmental initiatives. Here are some of them:
  • Hook up with Carbonfund.org to offer their customers the opportunity to offset their own carbon emissions..via donations.
  • Partnered with Airbus, Honeywell and International Aero Engines for possible future use of biomass-based fuel.
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IBM gets their solar idea from kids

Another bright idea to lower cost of solar technology came from the minds of children, according to IBM.

Like using a magnifying glass to burn a piece of paper with the use of the sun's rays, IBM constructed a really large lens to capture the sun's power using a technology called concentrator photovoltaics.

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Save the bees...with ozone

Here's another reason why we have to reduce/eliminate ozone-depleting chemicals.

According to the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), ozone might help solve the mystery of the bees' reduced population by making their hives cleaner and safer.

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May 20, 2008

TV news inflames fire retardant fears

Last night's news on CBS reported the concerns on human exposures to brominated flame retardants especially the chemical Deca, a polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) produced in the US.



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Cosmetics show powdered with green

Attending even just one day and I'm bombarded by green product offerings at last week's New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists (NYSCC) annual trade show in New Jersey.

My day started with Evonik's Lauren Kjeldsen who talked about their new natural cosmetic actives from their partnership with Sabinsa. Evonik also noted that 54 of its natural cosmetic ingredients are already certified by Ecocert.

Ecocert seemed to be the word of the day as National Starch Personal Care, Dow Chemical's Amerchol, and International Specialty Products (ISP) all pointed it out on their new product press release.

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Do you believe in global warming?

If not, then you can sign up in this petition by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which is urging the US government to reject the Kyoto Protocol and any other climate change proposals.

The Institute has already gathered signatures from 31,000 US scientists, according to this report from ICIS news.

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May 19, 2008

Green awards, big rewards

I just finished my article about California's Green Chemistry Initiative and one of the key elements that most industry and manufacturing trade groups would like to see is incentive-based programs instead of mandatory policies (no surprise there!).

With that note, here are some of this year's green awards that I came across within the two-month period. Just to let you know ICIS (Disclosure: I work for ICIS) is calling for entries to this year's ICIS Innovation Awards. Deadline for entries is July 4.

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Can you live without chemicals?

ICIS Chemical Business (Disclosure: I work for ICIS) published today an article about one of my colleagues, Andy Brice, trying to live for a week without polypropylene plastics.

This challenge came about during a "going cold turkey" discussion in the chemical community forum ICIS Connect.

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UK's green bank

Here's a great idea from the UK-based information services company j4b, who recently launched the database website, green grants machine.

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May 16, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

I'd better post the weekly news roundup early before this blog banishes into thin air...for a few hours anyway.

Greasing turbines with glycerin
XcelPlus Global Holdings acquired from Maverick Biofuels a new technology that converts biodiesel-based glycerin into a turbine engine fuel branded as Gly-Clene. The fuel can be made from any crude glycerol, regardless of the feedstock, including yellow grease.



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Wind racing the sun

Wind energy investments seem to be neck and neck with the solar market.

This week alone I came across three wind energy investment announcements: Fluor building the world's largest offshore wind farm in the UK; GreenHunter Wind Energy planning to develop China's first wind energy project; and Mesa Power LLP also planning to build the world largest wind farm in Texas.

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May 15, 2008

Swedes douse off flame retardant ban

On a hot seat from the European Union's legal challenge, the Swedish government decided on May 8 to lift its ban on the use of Deca-BDE flame retardant in textiles, furnitures and some electronic cables.

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GHG is up says weathermen

If melting polar ice caps and increasing hurricanes and tornadoes do not convince skeptics of earth's rising temperature, maybe the high tech gadgets and scientific views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could do the trick.

According to NOAA scientists, the global levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the primary driver of global climate change, increased by 0.6 percent, or 19 billion tons last year alone.

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May 14, 2008

Dwindling polar bears

It's official. Polar bears are becoming extinct, according to the US Department of the Interior (DOI).

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The power of wind

Wind power could be the next hot energy source according to the Department of Energy's (DOE) recently released report.

The DOE said wind can provide as much as 20% of US electricity needs by 2030.

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May 13, 2008

More solar power boost

For just one day of green news scanning and out came five solar articles (I'm sure I missed several more). No wonder the solar industry has one of the fastest growth among other industrial markets.

1. Kohl's will convert more than 50 of its existing New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland locations to solar power making the company the largest solar system user among retailers in the world.

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Toxic disasters

The town of Picher in Oklahoma devastated by a deadly twister last week is being tested for toxic air because of the blown-off massive piles of lead and zinc mining waste, according to Associated Press.

The area was already declared a Superfund site long ago because of the mining waste but this disaster will force the dwindled residents to accept the state or federal buyout offers for their land.

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Coatings group blasted Extreme Home Makeover show

Speaking of lead paint issue in Rhode Island, the National Paint and Coatings Associations (NPCA) reprimanded the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition for misleading its viewers about lead-based paint and the show's unsafe work practices regarding lead-contaminated areas.

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May 12, 2008

CVS washes off toxic toiletries

I'm off tomorrow attending a big cosmetic chemicals suppliers show in New Jersey. It seems that more chemical players are offering new natural-based ingredients for cosmetics and toiletries this year. I'll let you know how it goes and with that note, I'll leave this news about major drugstore CVS joining the crowd of other retailers in initiating more stringent cosmetic standards by launching early this year its new Cosmetic Safety Policy.

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Strawberry fields...in need of a new pesticide

Strawberry fields might not stay forever if an alternative to the banned pesticide methyl bromide will not be developed soon.

According to the info service Chemie.de, Spanish researchers at the Instituto Tecnologico Agrario de Castilla y Leon have been looking for an effective and safe alternative for three years and still has no luck in replacing methyl bromide.

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Hot solar market preview

I was assigned to do a market overview of the global solar (photovoltaic) industry for ICIS Chemical Business' June 14 electronics materials issue. Watch out for that as well as some of the latest issue on consumer electronics especially on e-waste problems and tightening regulations on electronic chemicals especially in Europe.

For now, here is a sneak peek of the organic photovoltaic market by industry analyst NanoMarkets.

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Should paint makers pay for lead suit?

Hearings on court are getting technically savvy and this one's webcast on May 15 will broadcast an appeal from former lead paint manufacturers, Sherwin-Williams , NL Industries and Millennium Holdings, to overturn a 2006 lead paint ruling in Rhode Island, which will force them to pay billions of dollars to clean up contaminated paint around the state.

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May 9, 2008

Mother's day green extravaganza

I'm actually giving my Mom just a bunch of tulips and a pink cute address book (she likes to call a lot of people) with a pink pen attached. However, for those who really like to splurge for their environmentally-conscious moms, here are some suggestions:

1. Eco-Lux Mattress - Your mom might stop complaining about her aging aches and pains with this new organic mattress courtesy of Vivetique. The $3,700 queen size bed is made up of organic cotton, wool and natural latex for support.

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Weekly News Roundup

I received a suggestion to break out the Weekly News Roundup and make it as an individual post. That can be done but let me know what you think about it. For now, here's this week's news bites from ExxonMobil's CO2 remover to Solvay's garbage-powered plant in Germany.

A cool way to remove CO2
ExxonMobil is building a commercial demonstration plant in Wyoming to showcase its Controlled Freeze Zone (CFZ) technology, which can reduce the cost of carbon dioxide removal and storage from produced natural gas. The $100m plant will process 14m cu.ft. of gas per day.

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Cooking up new uses for soy

Biodiesel might be upstaging some of soybean oil's industrial use but the quest continues to find new application for the versatile vegetable oil.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) discovered a new potential use for soy oil in pharmaceutical and and personal care markets.

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May 8, 2008

Sustainability is profitable for DuPont

Providing sustainable solutions will be a high growth business for DuPont's Performance Materials segment, according to the group's vice president Diane Gulyas.

In Bank of America's Basics/Industrial conference, Gulyas highlighted DuPont's participation in high growth, end-use markets such as photovoltaics for solar cells, advanced metals replacement, and renewably sourced polymers.

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Juiced on plastics

Plastic is the beverage industry's best friend.

Despite the ongoing hoopla on bisphenol-A and plastic bottle pollution, the beverage industry would rather have the cheaper and more energy-efficient plastic than using glass bottles. Manufacturers are instead assuring consumers that their plastics are recyclable, BPA-free, and soon, some will even be biodegradable.

Healthy beverage company Fuze resorted to using PET plastics instead of its usual glass bottles.

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May 7, 2008

A Mom's Day gift from Sierra Club

US environmental group Sierra Club is giving mothers across the country a mercury-free bag of lawsuits against coal-powered plants.

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Bubbling organic war

After giving a warning to several natural personal care products manufacturers on their supposed organic labeling misdemeanor, organic soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps filed a suit last week against the said manufacturers the company calls organic cheaters.

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Sustainability as a Status Symbol

Sustainable Business.com reported the growing business model of using Sustainability as a Status Symbol. Do you think this is tacky? I don't think this is a subtle form of greenwashing but I could be wrong.

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May 6, 2008

Plight of the Canadian ducks

The recent Canadian ducks' death need to be avenged and not just by mere apologies.

Greenpeace Canada says big oil players are ducking (sorry, just can't help it!) their responsibility in the deaths of more than 500 migratory birds because of their oil sands project in Alberta.

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Biotech recap

Last week's World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing conference in Chicago was a well of news and information for green journalists. The debate on food versus biofuel was a constant issue while biomass refineries was the most talked about topic for the whole 3-day meeting. Attendance of major oil companies were most noticeable and according to the organizer of the show, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), this year's attendance number was a record-high.

Unfortunately, I was only able to attend 3-4 sessions out of 20 per day as my body-doubles elected to explore Chicago instead. Pls. check out my earlier blogs on Germany and China biotech industry, and some tidbit biobased news reported on last Friday's Weekly News Roundup.

Here are the rest of accumulated green chemical news I've gathered from the conference. If you're not satisfied with it, I suggest you attend next year's conference instead...

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May 5, 2008

Will the credit crunch cripples green funding?

Most investors don't think so, according to this article from BusinessGreen.com. Leading green investors are looking at renewable and clean technology funding as a long term investment and according to them, there are still a lot of money out there especially from venture capital.

May 2, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

A hoi-polloi of green news this week with bisphenol-A issue continuing to plague the packaging industry. Also on ICIS News (which requires subscription), some snapshots of what's going on in the global industrial biotechnology industry.

BPA issue spreads in metals
The North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA) is assuring consumers that the epoxy liners containing bisphenol-A in metal packaging for foods and beverages are safe. NAMPA said the Food and Drug Administration confirmed the safety of the BPA-contained epoxy coatings for food packaging.

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Is China ready to be green?

Not only is China ready for green, it is already one of the biggest producer of green-based chemicals, according to the life science and chemicals firm DSM China Ltd.

China ranked number #1 in the production of sodium glutamate, citric acid, lysine and vitamin C, while in bioethanol and lactic acid, it ranked #3. All the chemicals are made via fermentation or enzyme processing.
"Ambitious goals have already been set in China with strong policy supports specifically for industrial biotechnology," said DSM China president, Wei-Ming Jiang, who spoke at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing conference on April 29 in Chicago.

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May 1, 2008

April showers new green chemicals

Another month passed and more green chemicals have been launched. After attending this week's World Congress on Industrial Biotech and Bioprocessing conference in Chicago, I'm pretty sure there will be much, much more new ones to come.

For now, here's several new environment-friendly or renewable or sustainable or energy-saving or biodegradable...etc. chemicals that caught my roving green eye:

1. ICI Green paint - ICI Paints and the Home Depot launched their VOC-free Freshaire Choice Paint. The residential, tinted paint product is said to be the first GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® certified in the industry.

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