August 29, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

The US presidential race is now in full speed as both democratic and republican parties officially nominate their candidates. The future of the US renewable energy market will be at stake as each presidential nominee tries to solve the soaring energy price crisis.

In other news, the 23rd European Photovoltaic Solar Energy conference in Valencia, Spain, will start on September 1. Although I'm not attending the conference (more's the pity), I've been receiving several press releases from chemical companies that deal with the industry and I'll share them with you next week.

For now, here's this week's news roundup.

Bioplastic buyout
International Consolidated Companies (ICCI) will acquire Massena, NY-based Bio Plastics Inc. for $5m. The company plans to produce biodegradable plastic products such as CD cases, DVD boxes, etc.

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Obama to end US oil era

Barack Obama's democratic national convention speech last night is probably sending shivers down an oil company's spine (and perhaps the petroleum industry as well??) as he promised to end America's oil dependence from the Middle East in 1o years if he's elected president.

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August 28, 2008

Icy oil and gas coming soon

It seems that producible quantities of oil and gas can be found in the Dreki area of Iceland (in the Atlantic, northeast of Iceland on the Jan Mayen Ridge, between Iceland and Jan Mayen Island), and the Icelandic government is inviting experts and specialist in geology and oil exploration (as well as oil/energy companies) to attend its Iceland Exploration Conference next week.

The government plans to start tendering exclusive licenses for oil exploration in the Dreki area in January 2009.

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What's with the chemical hysteria?

The US seems to be intent in pushing a lot of chemical bans this year especially in California. Meanwhile, plastic bag bans are plastered all over the news as well.

Joe Acker, president of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), noted the rampant chemophobia going on in the US in his blog, and how US regulatory agencies seem to be pandering to these fears.

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Brits claim greener sense

An online green study from global market research firm TNS reported that 51% of the UK population rated their own natural environment as 'excellent' to 'good' while 71% rated the rest of the world's environment as 'poor' or at best 'fair'.

The report said 51% of the Brits surveyed claimed to have recently started changing their behavior to become ‘greener’, which is a higher proportion compared to the average 40% surveyed worldwide.

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August 27, 2008

National conventions green war

To celebrate the National Conventions here in the US (democratic convention this week and republican's next week), here's an interesting article by Greenbiz.com about the ongoing green war from the red and blue convention organizers.

The article noted the more publicized green initiatives coming from the democratic side although a republican spokesperson said their green measures are more practical, realistic and conscientious.

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Lucky $26m green recipients

Is $26m enough to partially fund development of new energy efficient industrial processing?

The US Department of Energy (DOE) seems to think so and has given the three-year funding to be shared by eight lucky projects:

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Busting solar myths

Wind turbine syndrome, vibro-acoustic disorder, and now solar blindness...Fact or fiction? The myth busters may have to work on these ones but for now, other myths in the solar energy area are being dispelled by the company Sunrise Solar.

Myth 1: Solar electricity cannot provide a significant part of America's electricity needs.

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August 26, 2008

Beware of wind energy side effects

Aside from its unprofitability forecast, maybe Shell knows something about wind energy that we don't when they pulled out of their UK offshore wind farm investment.

According to this article from New Scientist, a study shows that the moving blades from wind turbines can cause a drop in pressure that makes the delicate lungs of bats suddenly expand and burst. This is known as a barotrauma, and is well-known to scuba divers.

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Green marketing 101

Marketers may have to attend Greenwashing seminars and classes if they want to learn the do's and don'ts on how to use green words in their advertisings.

All over the world, public advocates are scrutinizing every green word in marketing and advertising and this summer alone found major companies such as tire manufacturer Goodyear in Australia, and in the UK, oil company Shell, accused of greenwashing.

Another one brewing in Australia is within the beverage industry.

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Shell out of wind

Are major oil companies just full of hot air when it comes to their clean energy strategies?

Last month, Shell decided to abandon its stake in a large offshore wind farm in the UK, which was then bought by energy company E.ON and Danish utility firm DONG Energy.

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August 25, 2008

China's green revolution

Here's a nice interesting insight from my colleague John Richardson about China's fast track towards becoming the world's leader in clean technologies.

If you're an ICIS subscriber (about ICIS), you can access the whole article in this link. Or you can also read the unedited somewhat similar version on his blog. Otherwise (that is if you don't have the time or just plain lazy to click links), here are some points that John noted on how China's government subsidies are helping push the region's green revolution.

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Green casino coming soon

Atlantic City in New Jersey will have a new player in their midst...and it will be green.

Revel Entertainment is building Atlantic City's 12th casino, which it claimed will be the world's greenest come 2010.

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Lost polar bears

Sometimes the way to get to your pocket is to tug your heart strings and this advertising about polar bears almost worked on mine.



According to WWF, several polar bears are way miles away from home and swimming more in open waters to find food and shelter.

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August 22, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

This week's big news (for me at least) is Mayor Mike Bloomberg considering wind energy projects in New York City.

According to this article from the New York Times, the mayor is not only looking to install wind turbines in the windy parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island (what about Staten Island?), the top of skyscrapers and even in bridges could be possible installation spots as well.

Let's see if that will push through bringing the fact that he's time in the city hall is ticking fast.

For now, here's this week's green global news roundup.

Solutia's solar solution
Solutia will be supplying a solar thermal power plant in Egypt with its synthetic heat transfer fluid Therminol VP-1. The fluids are being utilized in the production of solar energy for more than 20 years, the company said.

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Chrysler now produces hybrid electric cars

Chrysler said it has begun rolling off its new hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) assembly line in Newark, Delaware, in time for the introduction of the company's new 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid and 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid.

The company said the two full-size 4x4 sport-utility HEVs are nearly $8,000 below the competition. Dodge Durango's suggested retail price is $45, 340 and the Chrysler Aspen is $45, 570. Buyers are also expected to receive an estimated tax credit of $1,800.

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The mystery of bioplastics

Plastic bags' disposing and waste issues are under scrutiny all over the world but is bioplastic really the solution? There are buzzing questions whether some of the bioplastics currently being offered in the market are 100% biodegradable or maybe they're just partially degradable. Some of them are being labeled as renewable - what the heck is the meaning of that?

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August 21, 2008

Lanxess' green chemistry goals

If a chemical or chemicals can help make cars reduce fuel consumption and carbon emission; help create cheaper fuel cells or solar panels; or make existing or new sources of water drinkable, does this mean the chemical or chemicals can be categorized as green?

Even if they are not made from plants, bacteria or other natural/renewable-based feedstock, or that they are not biodegradable or recyclable?

Lanxess likes to think so if the said chemical/s are also eco-friendly, safe and are manufactured in an environmentally-conscious production processes.

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Save earth...through a game

I'll soon be posting some green chemistry news from the specialty chemical company Lanxess but while I'm working on it (and sipping my green tea frapp from a nearby Starbucks here in Pittsburgh, Pa), here's a cool game to ease your pain in waiting for my next post [with bated breath I assume].

Not only will this vocabulary game called Treewala makes you learn more about the environment, it will also let you help contribute in saving the South American rainforest, according to this green social media company Greenwala Inc.

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August 20, 2008

Pittsburgh's shiny green steel

I am off to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for two days attending a US bash given by the Germany-based specialty chemicals company Lanxess. The company is also celebrating their recent quarterly profit.

In case I'll be too muddled with their champagne and wine to be able to concentrate on posting any witty green news comments, I'll leave you today with this interesting video by ZDNet.com about Pittsburgh trying to shed its image of a gritty, grimy steel town...

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August 19, 2008

Dwindling virgin plastic demand

Here's more bad news for plastic producers but good news for the environment.

According to ConAgra Foods, a major US packaged food manufacturer, they are planning to recycle 8 million pounds of plastic waste into new frozen meal trays for their brands Healthy Choice®,Banquet®, Kid Cuisine® and Marie Callenders® products.

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Organic store bans bottled water

Step aside Whole Foods!

This up and coming organic retail chain store from Washington metro area, MOM's (which stands for My Organic Market) is taking its green initiative to the next level by phasing out all imported bottled water from their shelves.

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Stronger US wind power

Here's a nice cool story from the New York Times about a certain Nebraska town and its growing pride in their windy condition.

Ainsworth, Nebraska, according to the article, became the state's first major wind farm with 36 wind turbines erected in late 2005. Nebraska Public Power District, the state's largest utility, hopes that within a decade or so, 10 percent of its energy will be produced by clean, free, plentiful wind.

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Bob the green builder

It seems congratulations are in order to more than 1,000 US builders, remodelers and other members of the home building industry who just got their green certification from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

If you want to be green certified, the association said all you need to do is complete 24 hours of classroom training including 16 hours of green building instruction; must have two years’ industry experience, must sign a code of ethics and must commit to fulfilling continuing education requirements to qualify for the designation.

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August 18, 2008

Fire retardant ban rose from the ashes

After being dismissed in California's legislation floor last year, the bill AB 706 was again revived although slightly amended in August 4 by its sponsor, Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).

This time, AB 706 does not outrightly proposed a ban on brominated (BFRs) and chlorinated fire retardants (CFRs) but instead laid the banning discretion to California's Department of Toxic Substances Control.



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BPA is safe says FDA

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report last week Thursday stating that there is no health risk in the use of bisphenol-A in food containers for infants and adults.

The FDA is still proposing more testing strategy to erase the uncertainties surrounding BPA's use in food contact materials but for now the agency has concluded that based on their tests and calculations, an adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure in food containers.

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[Photo from WashingtonPost.com]

August 15, 2008

Shell's UK Ad a greenwash?

Companies nowadays have to be careful in using green words when it comes to advertising, as government agencies are getting complaints from green groups...especially maybe if the advertiser is a big oil firm??

Read this new national advertising in the UK from Shell and let me know which word/s or sentence/s gave a greenwash flag. You get a prize of free subscription of Green Chemicals Blog if you find the correct answer!


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California: Bright and green

Why is California always seem to be ahead when it comes to ginormous green projects?

In the solar sector, Pacific Gas and Electric Company will soon be able to supply enough clean energy to 239,000 homes in California with its recent solar power contracts for a total of 800 megawatts with Topaz Solar Farms and High Plains Ranch II.

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Weekly News Roundup

The media world is abuzz with the Olympics in Beijing, and even the chemical industry is enthusiastically putting out news releases on how their products contribute to some athletes getting the gold, or how they enable them to break world records, why the LED lights in the ceremony are brighter and colorful, or why Peking duck in China is tastier than in New York's Chinatown (this last one I made up).

Even ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) released its Sports feature for the year in honor of the event. You can check out interesting articles on how the chemical industry contributes to these games.

Will Michael Phelps get his 8th gold medal tonight? Will China's project 119 lead them to being the top Olympic gold medal harvester? Do you think the 7-year old girl Yang Peiyi who sang China's national anthem in the background (while the cute little girl in the red dress lip sync during the ceremony) should seek therapy after being pushed aside from the spotlight because she wasn't pretty enough according to Chinese officials?

We'll soon find the answers for these questions but for now, here's this week exciting Green News roundup!

Chinese green tech in US
Mantra Venture Group signed an exclusive deal to distribute green technology products from China-based E.S.D. Environmental Protection and Technology Co., Ltd. E.S.D. manufactures outdoor solar lights, LED lights, solar power home generation systems, wind and solar hybrid power systems, solar charge controllers and other related products.

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The smaller the better

Ford's new motto seems to be focus on getting smaller...with their vehicles that is.

The company' s new Ford Fiesta, said to be the first of a generation of new global small Ford cars, is now being mass produced in Cologne, Germany. The Fiesta will be tailor-made for each region, Europe, Asia, Americas, and will go on sale progressively between now and 2010, starting in Europe.

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August 14, 2008

Garbage war in Pennsylvania

Disposing trash must be really getting costlier if a hauler has to sue its municipal garbage authority for landfill discrimination.

Lebanon Farms Disposal, a hauler from Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania, was fined in 2003 for violating Lebanon County's disposal regulation by transporting their refuse to a cheaper landfill in Schuykill County. The hauler filed a complaint against the Greater Lebanon Refuse Authority (GLRA) stating that the county's solid waste plan is unconstitutional.

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Is there such thing as clean coal?

While the US Congress is debating on offshore drilling, another debate that has been going on for years is government funding on another supposedly clean energy source, liquid coal.

Environmentalists are definitely dead-set against using any types of coal even if they're supposedly clean. Here's one example of their view of "clean coal" from the National Resources Defense Council. [Kudos to GreenTechnoLog.com for posting this].



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August 13, 2008

The new green entrepreneurs

Just as the dot.com era produces this generation's young millionaires (or billionaires), the green trend is starting to drive out new your entrepreneurs straight out of school..or some of them still in school.

An example is this MBA student from the University of Toledo who re-purposed part of his student loan to set up his eco-tableware business.

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Organics: A load of crap?

According to researchers from the University of Copenhagen, there is no difference in taste and nutritional content between an organically grown fruit and vegetables, and food grown with the use of pesticides and chemicals.
"Modern crop protection chemicals to control weeds, pests and diseases are extensively tested and stringently regulated, and once in the soil, mineral nutrients from natural or artificial fertilizers are chemically identical. Organic crops are often lower yielding and eating them is a lifestyle choice for those who can afford it."

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August 12, 2008

Home store to sell clean techs

Big house furnishing stores are already selling eco-friendly products such as bamboo floorings, recycled counter tops, energy-efficient appliances, etc.

So it makes sense, I guess, for Swedish homeware retailer Ikea to soon start selling solar panels, maybe even lithium ion batteries for cars or even a ready-made solar-powered house.

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Cleaner livestock waste

Residents near farms or livestock processing facilities will soon breathe a cleaner (and less smelly) sigh of relief.

Bion Environmental Technologies said they now have a patent approval for their phosphorus removal process in livestock waste treatment.

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Market loss on phthalates ban

According to this article from ICIS News, the temporary ban of some plasticizer phthalates on kids' products can cause permanent consumption loss in this end-market.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) hold a media web conference yesterday talking about the consequences of the phthalates ban under the Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act (H.R. 4040), which is expected to be signed by President Bush this week.

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Another PVC blow

Kids might soon forget how polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic feels like under their hands and feet as major US playground manufacturer Playworld Systems become the first to eliminate PVC from their products.

Playworld said it is replacing its PVC with 100% recyclable thermoset polyethylene (PE).

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August 11, 2008

Ingenious solar water heater

Your "99 bottles of beer on the wall" could have some real use after all.

This Do-It-Yourself solar water heater can be easily constructed according to the website Ananova. The site said a Chinese farmer invented his own solar water heater using beer bottles and hose pipes attached to a board.

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Plastic bag fuss on West Coast

A lot of plastic news happening in the West Coast particularly in Seattle and Los Angeles that I did not have the time to talk about last week.

According to several news sources, the city council of Los Angeles, California, voted a resolution on July 22 to ban all plastic bags from retail stores starting July 1, 2010 if the state of California fails to impose a pending bill (AB 2058) that would force retailers to charge shoppers 25 cents for each plastic bag provided by supermarkets and large retail stores.

The LA Times reported that the ban was proposed by Councilman Ed Reyes, who called plastic bags "the graffiti of the L.A. River," which passes through his district.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) released a statement a day after the news came out and clarified that the council vote was not an actual ban but instead a recommendation

The coalition Savetheplasticbag.com, meanwhile, sued the LA county board when it adopted in January 2008 a phased program to ban plastic bags. The lawsuit was filed on July 17. Last week, the coalition also testified before the California Senate Appropriations Committee in opposition to Assembly Bill 2058.

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Mining for green gold

Mining company US Mine Makers says they can recover gold and platinum using a more environment-friendly processing that uses sodium bromide instead of sodium cyanide to leach the metals from the ore.

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August 10, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

My apologies for the delayed news roundup. I've been kidnapped by the people from Planet Green since Friday and they wouldn't let me use the internet unless I drink their green fruity concoctions and get inebriated. I have no idea what happened the day after and I have a theory that the green people wiped out my memory of those two days.

I am back and in good blogging form, so here's last week's big green news (aside from the football news of Brett Favre leaving Green Bay for New York's Gang Green! )

Symrise' new green cosmetics
Symrise expands its green cosmetics offering by becoming the exclusive distributor for California company Bayliss Ranch's Essence line of water-soluble plant extracts that are 100% organic.

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August 7, 2008

Coal operators clean up

Coal plant operators in Texas and Wisconsin have caved in to pressures from green groups as they promised to retire older, less-efficient facilities; use emission-reduction technologies in their new plants; and invests in renewable alternative energy resources.

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Bursting solar deals

If I'm an alternative energy investor, should the surge in solar projects make me think twice in investing in this industry? They reminded me of the dot.com and housing boom before their bubbles burst.

The same sentiment is partially echoed in this article published last week in ICIS Chemical Business (Disclaimer: I work for ICIS). Some consultants think investors especially in the US are going way overboard in tossing money to clean technology ventures.

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Next decade's weather forecast: BAD

Summer this year in New York has seen several weeks of downpours and continuous heat and humidity, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said you ain't seen nothin' yet.

The EPA released its climate change report last month and noted that continued global warming could likely increase the frequency and intensity of heat waves and heavy storms; severe frequent droughts in big areas; intense hurricane wind speeds; and increases in the occurrence of coastal and river flooding.

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August 6, 2008

Americans stick to green

Another sign that the green market is recession-proof is this new survey from Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

The survey indicated that many American consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products even in the face of economic uncertainty.

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Eco pedal vs Eco booster

Nissan might have its new EcoPedal technology but Ford is preparing to launch its EcoBoost engine technology developed by turbo manufacturer Honeywell.

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Green formulations rise

I just finished my article on natural waxes (such as soy wax and beeswax) and found out that demand for the products are really increasing because 1. consumer preference for natural-based materials, and 2. price for petroleum-based counterparts has surged.

I'll post the article once it's out on August 18. For now, here are several new consumer products launched formulated to include natural, biodegradable and other 'green-based' ingredients.

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How to conserve fuel? Ask your car pedal!

Don't be alarmed if your car pedal seems to push back when you accelerate.

The car maker Nissan is going to commercialize next year its Eco Pedal technology designed to assist drivers to become more fuel-efficient.

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August 5, 2008

EU climate rules chill sports car makers

An interesting article from Reuters regarding the effects of European carbon trading schemes in sports cars manufacture.

Makers of sports car such as Lamborghini, Porsche, Fiat (which also makes Ferrari and Maserati), and Aston Martin are claiming that they should be excluded in the European Union's new rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new cars to an average of 120 grams per km by 2012 from the current average of around 160 grams.

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Don't throw your old newspaper!

According to this article from the New Journal of Chemistry, Japanese researchers from Saga University were able to recover precious metals such as gold, palladium and platinum from industrial wastewater using a sorption active gel formed from chemically treating an ordinary newspaper with p-amino benzoic acid, a compound used in sunscreen.

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Chicken gas powers Chinese farm

Biogas from chicken manure will now power a big chicken farm in Beijing using GE's Jenbacher gas engines.

According to GE, the plant, with annual capacity of 14,600 megawatt/hour electricity, is the first of its type in China designed to help reduce suburban electricity shortage.

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August 4, 2008

E-waste export ban introduced

A bill banning the export of electronic waste to developing nations was introduced last week in Congress by Environment and Hazardous Materials subcommittee chairman Gene Green (D-Texas), and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional E-waste Working Group.

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Pollution solution in China

As China's Beijing continues to be shrouded with smog days before the Olympic games, more transportation solution is being offered to reduce air pollution from companies such as Segway and Alcoa.

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Welcome the new green grads

It seems salary and benefits options are not enough to entice newly graduate students to work for a company. They have to have a good green status too.

According to a recent survey conducted by career service provider Experience Inc.,79% out of 2,774 college students and recent grads they asked reported that they would be more likely to accept a job offer at a green company over another company, when evaluating two similar job offers.

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August 1, 2008

Green chemicals in July

I thought July would be a lull time for companies to launch new green chemicals but I seem to have my own record-breaking number of products this month. Either that or I'm just lazier the previous months in scanning new product news.

Congratulations to the top 7 chemicals that made the list! Why seven? Because that's my favorite number!

1. Rohm and Haas' green coatings - The company introduced almost two dozen environmentally advanced products for the architectural and industrial coatings markets at the recent American Coatings Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are so many so just go the link for information.

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