December 31, 2008

2009 welcomes green chems

The incoming year could be a big year for Green chemistry. US president-elect Obama promises to boost the green energy market while industry talks of more chemical restriction from Congress will also boost development of alternative "green" chemicals. Another major development is California's Green Chemistry Initiative where the state has already jump-started its rule-making process to restrict certain chemicals and increase development for green chemicals. California also adopted the first statewide green building standards in the US which will become mandatory in 2010.

My 2008 prediction of more chemical restriction has taken place. Phthalates in certain kids' products will soon be banned under the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act in the US. Norway bannedthe flame retardant deca-BDE in April while Canada bans polycarbonate baby bottles with bisphenol-A. European Union's Reach (registration, evaluation, authorization of chemicals) is ongoing although there seems to be trouble implementing that regulation.

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December 30, 2008

Green chem wiki

California's Environmental Protection Agency created a wiki website inviting anybody and everybody who has interests in the agency's ongoing Green chemistry rule making process. The agency says it will spur discussions and new ideas as the state's green chemistry regulations are being drafted.

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Check your kid's gifts

The holiday season again brought more toy safety issues from consumer advocates and although this advice is probably late (since most already threw out tons of ripped boxes that house their kids' gifts), it might still be worthwhile checking in the internet to see if your toys are safe, according to nonprofit group Ecology Center.

The group released early this month its second annual consumer guide to toxic chemicals in toys at www.HealthyToys.org. In their list of 1,500 popular children's toys tested for lead, cadmium, arsenic, PVC and other harmful chemicals, one in three toys tested were reportedly found to contain "medium" or "high" levels of chemicals of concern.

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December 29, 2008

Weekly News Roundup

Slow news during the holidays enable me to compile two weeks worth of green news roundup. Here they are in no particular order:

Ford likes Sabic resins
Ford might be too busy begging for bailout money but its R&D for fuel-efficient car is still ongoing (R&D is definitely needed for them to survive!). Sabic says its lightweight Noryl GTX resins is being incorporated in Ford's all-new Kuga model to help meet fuel economy and emission targets.

Lithium ion joint venture
GS Yuasa and Honda Motor Co. formed a joint venture company which will manufacture, sell and conduct R&D for high-performance lithium-ion batteries focusing on hybrid vehicles. The two companies will begin establishing the new company around spring 2009.

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Hydrogen car available at Amazon.com

I wonder if any kids (or adults) got this cool hydrogen racing car for their holiday present? According to Amazon.com, this 3-pound H-Racer uses a real fuel cell and has its own on-board hydrogen storage system.

I saw this car in Liberty Science Center in New Jersey and I heard BASF supplied the fuel cell component (I have to check this information though).

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December 28, 2008

Holiday green gifts

Christmas is over, school is out (at least temp0rarily) and I am finally able to get a few moments to access the internet and wish the green blog readers a very Happy Holidays!

I've been compiling news announcements of several green consumer products launch for months in time for the holidays. I wonder if they're really eco-friendly or is this just another marketing ploy to grab consumers' green bucks. The question is: With the economic recession in full force, will green product innovation suffer?

Eco-litter box - this invention might look weird (to you and your cat) at first but Feline Evolution says its CatSeat allows for a Green Filter(TM) that can help save the lives of Sea Otters on California's Pacific Coast by providing proper disposal of cat waste. The CatSeat reportedly eliminates a cat's dependence on litter gradually. A nice gift for your eco-loving cat!

December 20, 2008

Obama to face climate change

The green blogger is apologizing for the erratic posts as she is banned from spreading her cold virus including using her keyboard and mouse. Right now she is sneaking in to post this very important news about president-elect Obama announcing his new climate change gurus for his Science and Technology Team.

Physicist and climate change policy advocate John Holdren will become Obama's Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Assistant to the President's Council of Advisers for Science and Technology (PCAST). Holdren is a professor and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center.

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December 17, 2008

California's green chemistry rules

California's Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) released yesterday its final Green Chemistry Initiative proposals that aims to eliminate or reduce toxic chemicals in California's products and manufacturing processes.

Six policies were recommended:
  • EXPAND POLLUTION PREVENTION and product stewardship programs.
  • DEVELOP GREEN CHEMISTRY WORKFORCE EDUCATION AND TRAINING through new and existing educational programs and partnerships.
  • CREATE AN ONLINE PRODUCT INGREDIENT NETWORK to disclose chemical ingredients for products sold in California, while protecting trade secrets.
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December 16, 2008

Toyota freezes hybrid plant work

It turns out that hybrids are not recession-proof after all. Prius manufacturer Toyota said that they are suspending the construction of their new plant in Mississippi because of the downfall in US auto demand.

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Biosuccinic plant underway

The world's first biobased-succinic acid plant with a capacity of 2,000 metric tons/year is already under construction in Pomacle, France, according to white biotech company Bioamber, a joint venture between US-based DNP Green Technology and France-based ARD.

Bioamber was launched in April 2008.

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Holiday tips from chemical group

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) is sharing some holiday tips when it comes to recycling. ACC says Americans will generate this holiday season an extra 5 million tons of garbage.
"During the excitement of the holidays, it's easy to forget about the extra waste we generate, but recycling plastics can be refreshingly easy," says Jennifer Killinger with the ACC. "Turning reuse and recycling tips into household habits will help reduce trash, and help protect our environment, year-round."
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December 15, 2008

Obama picks US green team

President-elect Barack Obama plans to hold a press conference today to formally announce members of his energy and environment team, according to the NY Times. The rollout is expected to include Steven Chu for energy secretary, Lisa Jackson as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Carol Browner to lead the policy council on environment and energy, and Nancy Sutley to direct the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu is said to be a strong advocate of alternative and renewable energy research and would be the first Asian-American to lead the department. Scanning the world wide web of intrigues, it seems that Chu is against coal but a proponent of nuclear energy. I wonder how that will sit with environmentalists? But according to several green blogs, Chu will be very much welcomed in the bossom of green groups.

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Dow Corning in billion dollar solar investments

Thanks to Jeff (of Apco Worldwide) for providing me with this news about Dow Corning investing several billion dollars to construct a new monosilane manufacturing facility in Hemlock, Michigan, and a new site in a new site in Clarksville, Tennessee, to increase manufacturing capacity for polycrystalline silicon.

Dow Corning says the investment will provide critical raw materials to solar cell manufacturers. Crystalline-based solar cells use sliced polysilicon as its main semi-conducting material, while thin-film solar cells are made by depositing a thin film of silicon, enabled by monosilane, onto a sheet of another material such as glass.

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Weekly News Roundup

The weird NY warm/freezing weather of December (and deadline work/school pressures) has unfortunately struck the green blogger with a very bad case of cold and unable to form a coherent post.

She will try to get some worthwhile green information while recovering but for now will leave you with last week's news roundup.

Air Products in Solar
Air Products has signed a turnkey gas supply contract to provide on-site gases, liquid bulk gases, specialty gases and gas equipment to China's Best Solar Hi Tech Co., Ltd, which is building a new thin-film photovoltaic (PV) facility in the Wuzhong Economic Development Park in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China.

Bioproducts trials
Packaging distributor Vital Products has conducted several additional commercial trials of its new Bio-Based packaging foam technology. The company says it has begun the process of converting their customers over to their new Bio-Based foam products.

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December 9, 2008

Temporarily out of operation

The green blogger is indisposed for the next three days due to assignments and deadline overload. She'll be back as soon as she's resuscitated by small doses of shopping.

December 5, 2008

Lead on Xmas lights

Instead of love, it's "give lead on Christmas Day...", according to environmental analyst Joe Laqatra of Cornell College of Human Ecology.

According to his study, which is published in the December issue of the Journal of Environmental Health, lead levels in indoor/outdoor Christmas lights that they tested were all said to be above regulatory limits for equivalent areas of windowsills and floors set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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Woodchips to ship

I sometimes see used and [or] broken wooden cabinets, chairs and even tables on the sidewalk during recycled trash pick-up and often wonder what is their worth for recycling. Now that I know wood chips for fuel are in demand worldwide, I might have to start supplementing my meager income by picking up wooden trash (and maybe a few aluminum and glass containers) on the street.

According to Green Energy Resources, it is currently soliciting 500,000 tons of woodchips from New York metropolitan area suppliers including Long Island and Philadelphia to meet export demand in 2009.

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December 4, 2008

It's not easy being green

Members of the European Union are finding out that it is not that easy to implement any type of green-based regulations as what is happening with their Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Electronic Recycling Law.

A report from ICIS News (subscription required) alerted the green blog that the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) - the US Congress' "detective" agency - released a study this week stating that the first phase (2005-2007) implementation of EU's ETS has currently minimal impact in lessening their greenhouse gas emission as well as driving clean technology investments, partly blamed by the the short time frame in the ETS implementation.

With the next US administration also looking to implement its own version of carbon emissions trading, GAO advices that based on the EU ETS experience, the Congress should consider [1] the importance of historic emissions data availability and reliability; [2] the need for long-term certainty to encourage investments in less-carbon-intensive technologies; and [3] the importance of the design and implementation of allocating carbon allowances, which will have significant economic effects.

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Chinese soy ban in Europe

Soybean-based food products for infants and kids such as soy milk (even soy sauce and edamame?) that are imported from China is now ban from Europe, according to today's statement from the European Commission.

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Bleached bags are out

Plastic packaging is not the only one seeing big changes (e.g. more demand for recycled, bio-based plastic products). Pulp and paper companies are also being affected by the green demand in packaging, whether industrial or consumer-based customers.

Soy ingredient company Solae, for one, is changing all of its product packaging by eliminating as much chemicals that it used as possible.

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December 3, 2008

'Tis the season for green donation

Green bucks is usually the best donation for a worthwhile cause but I guess biobased materials will also do.

Cargill said it teamed up with its customer Healthier Choice, a premium carpet cushion manufacturer, in donating over 1,500 square feet of carpet cushion and underlayment made in part with Cargill's BiOH polyols to Habitat for Humanity's eco-friendly homes somewhere in Crystal, Minnesota.

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Solar group demands new policies

Various groups, companies, associations and industries seem to be eager to present their own blueprints to the incoming administration on how to create green American jobs starting next year.

In this instance, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), comprised of over 800 member companies that manufacture, distribute, sell, design, own, install and finance solar power plants and systems in the US, is asking the incoming Obama administration to set up economic and energy policies that will guarantee new jobs coming from the solar industry.

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Meet Mr. Ellie Pooh

I seem to be getting a lot of animal-based news this week. Here's another one forwarded by my secret informant from the American Oil Chemists Society.

A company called Mr. Ellie Pooh (yes, that is really their name) has recently received CO-OP America's 2008 Green Business Leader Award. This innovative Brooklyn, NY-based company sells 100% handmade journals, stationery, office supplies and various grades of paper made partially from Sri Lankan elephant dung.

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December 2, 2008

Wal-Mart creates green council

The emperor of retailers has formed its own Green Jobs Council comprising representatives from throughout Wal-Mart's kingdom..err..divisions, as well as representatives from its suppliers across various industries.

Wal-Mart said the Green Council will facilitate the creation of US green jobs starting off with Wal-Mart's recent initiative to source some of its Texas stores' electricity from wind farms.

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Sugar-based acrylic glass

An interesting development from the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) is the manufacture of polymethyl methacrylate, also known as acrylic glass, made from natural sugars, alcohols or fatty acids using a certain enzyme called 2-hydroxyisobutyryl-CoA mutase.

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Cow tax emits panic

You'd think the chemical industry has big problems when it comes to carbon emissions, but the US agriculture industry is said to be in a state of panic about the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA has been gathering comments, which ended last week Friday, about its proposed GHG rule, and according to several farmers association, it would include regulating GHG emitted by dairy and livestock farms.

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December 1, 2008

US wind gains speed

ICIS co-blogger Barbara Ortner told me two weeks ago that my post about the top 10 wind turbine spenders in the US are registering more than a hundred visits per day. Meanwhile, I've been getting so many press release about wind energy investments, joint ventures, etc. in the past few weeks (see some examples below).

The NY Times also reported yesterday a story about wind generating companies in Wyoming offering deals to various land owners so they can set up their wind turbine farms. Instead of the old Gold and Oil rush stories, I guess several states are now seeing the equivalent of Wind Rush fever.

I just hope the US wind energy market is more resistant to economic recession for the market to continue to expand.

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Green Chemicals for the month

Here are some of the new green chemicals introduced in November. I'm predicting a lot more of these new "green" alternatives will come out next year...

1. Ticona's green flame retardant - Ticona Engineering Polymers launched its halogen-free enhanced Celanex® 6842 flame retardant series with improved processability and equivalent properties that give designers and manufacturers a “drop-in” option for use in eco-friendly electrical and electronic components.

2. ICL reduces mercury emissions - ICL Industrial Products launched its Merquel(TM) inorganic bromides product line for reduction of mercury emissions from coal fired power plants, kilns and incinerators.

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Calling all green folks

Now that California is implementing its Green Chemistry law, the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is looking for candidates to fill its Green Ribbon Science Panel slots. The Panel is comprised of experts that will provide advice on scientific matters, chemical policy recommendations and implementation strategies. DTSC says the Panel will ensure that implementation efforts are based on a strong scientific foundation.

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Weekly News Roundup

I am back this week and proud to say that I [along with my sisters] did our best to help our ailing economy by shopping non-stop for two days. I am not sure, however, if I want to see my bills that will arrive before Christmas.

Speaking of shopping, there was no noticeable plastic shopping bag ban or limited use of plastic bags imposed in any supermarket and other stores that I came across for the past 5 days. I did notice any promotion of green-theme products although most of the appliances (and some electronics) I saw already have energy-saving features on them.

I guess when money is tight, cheap still prevails over environment-friendly unless the products are cheap and green. We will continue to monitor the green shopping trend for the rest of the year, but for now, here are the blog's green news roundup.

Bio-succinic on the way
The University of Georgia Research Foundation has licensed to French specialty chemical company Roquette the production and sales of bio-succinic acid and its salts. A demonstration plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2009, and multi-ton production is expected to start in 2010.

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