December 30, 2009

EPA's 4 new chemicals of concern

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that it is raising its red warning flag on four chemicals - phthalates, short chain chlorinated paraffins, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and perfluorinated chemicals (including PFOA) that are believed to be of concern to health and environment.

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Sweet green promise of sugar

Sugar-based chemical feedstock seems to be prominently featured in 2009 as several developments continue to center on the promise of sugar as alternative to petroleum.

So what are some of the bioproducts currently using sugar? The International Sugar Organization just published their first-ever report about using sugar for chemicals and other bio-products, which led me to post this article (thanks also to Genomatica for alerting me about the report!).

The study investigates the market potential for sugarcane and beet bio products arising from industrial biotechnology advances.

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Toxic chemicals release down in 2008

The Bad news: Americans seem to be more exposed to chemicals from 2003 to 2004, according to a biomonitoring survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Good news: Toxic chemicals released into the environment in 2008 was 6% less compared to 2007, according to a recent analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) report, which includes data on 650 chemicals from more than 21,000 facilities, total toxic chemicals releases to air last year decreased 14%, although releases to surface water increased 3% partially attributed to a coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority facility in Kingston, Tenn.

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December 29, 2009

Growing sustainability profiles

I forgot to mention that ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) is sponsoring and coordinating a program called "Profiles in Sustainability" at the chemical/pharma tradeshow Informex, which as the name implies, will promote, publicize and reward exhibitors’ and attendees’ achievements in “being green”.

A panel of industry experts will be assigned to review all submissions received through January 15, and they will select five as the “innovators”.

Companies interested should submit from a business-oriented perspective, how they have implemented processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources without compromising safety or economics. Of course that also includes how these processes generate revenues.

For more information, pls. contact Caitlin Devin, email:, phone # 609-759-4735.

In the meantime, maybe these new sustainability and other newly launched green-oriented websites that just cropped up from various chemical companies would help you with your submission ideas. Goodluck!

Arkema launches sustainability group

ICIS news reported in November that French specialty chemical company Arkema plans that 10% of its sales will soon come from renewable resources. The company says it is also currently directly allocating over 50% of its R&D expenditure to innovation in every area which contributes to the development of eco-technologies.

The company has been very busy recently in building up its sustainability product portfolio and even launched in November a new Sustainability Additives Group within the company's Functional Additives division.

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More US chemical exposures?

I was a little bit tied up with deadlines when this report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out two weeks ago but this is still interesting enough to warrant a post before the year ends.

CDC said its recently released Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environment Chemicals was the most extensive assessment to date yet covering for the first time 75 new chemicals bringing to a total of 212 chemicals in its database.

Some of the chemicals added include acrylamide and glycidamide adducts; arsenic species and metabolites; environmental phenols including bisphenol A and triclosan; perchlorate; perfluorinated chemicals; polybrominated diphenyl ethers; volatile organic compounds, etc...

The data analyzed in the Fourth Report are based on blood and urine samples that were collected from approximately 2400 people who participated in CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003 through 2004.

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Codexis files for IPO

During my previous interview with CEO Alan Shaw, Codexis mentioned its plans to file an initial public offering (IPO) and I guess this is as good time as any.

The company announced yesterday that it has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) relating to the proposed IPO. Various news reports indicate the company's plan to raise $100m from the offering although no set date or number of shares were announced as of yet.

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December 28, 2009

Cleaning up: Green Reports from 2009

As the title indicated, I am trying to clean up my blog drafts to prepare for 2010 influx (I'm sure there are plenty of outlook reports coming up by January).

Most of the reports in this post are from Frost & Sullivan although there are some other interesting studies from Freedonia, Pike Research, McKinsey and even from Organic Monitor for updates on the organic cosmetic and personal care market.

I hope these will be useful to you!

Biofuels an Important Step in Achieving a Greener Aviation Industry

Southeast Asian Bioethanol Market Stimulated by the need to reduce reliance on Petrochemicals

2010 Will Be a Pivotal Year for Electric Vehicles

Study: Global biofuels reduce GHGs by 123.5 million tonnes

The Ethanol Challenge for the United States

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BPA-free plastic alternatives

Consulting firm Nexant recently published a report discussing several bisphenol-A (BPA)-free alternative resins for baby bottles production. Some of them include high density polyethylene (HDPE), metallocene polypropylene (PP), polyethylene naphthalate, Eastman’s Tritan copolyester, and polyethersulfone.

The consulting firm discussed the pros and cons of these alternative plastics in terms of process economics and properties compared to polycarbonate.

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December 23, 2009

Green gifts for the holidays

Although these products might be too late to give for Christmas but there are still birthdays and Valentine's Day to consider. I tried to compile all of these for the past two months now and if you are already using any of them, give me a feedback!

1. Eco-Green Graffiti Remover - got a problem with the neigborhood kids? Why not give them this eco-friendly graffiti remover from Daimer Industries? The remover is said to be 100% plant-based and can remove paint, permanent marker, pencil, pen and grease. It is available in package sizes ranging from five to 5,000-gallon containers.

2. Carpet backed with green - when looking for a carpet or rug, make sure it has an environment-friendly backing system such as the EnviroCel™ HOME green backing by Universal Textile Technologies. The main carpet backing is made of 50% by weight renewable materials while the secondary backing is from 100% post-consumer recycled PET plastic.

3. Renewable-based swimwear - If you're going to the Caribbean (or other warm places) during winter, opt for swimwear that features green fabrics such as Carvico's Amazzonia warp-knitted stretch fabrics. This Italian fabric is made with ADVANSA’s BIOPHYL® eco-polyester yarns that uses biobased-PDO (propanediol).

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December 22, 2009

NYC passes green buildings plan

As I am currently writing my article on sustainable buildings and construction, I came across this news about the City Council of New York recently passing four legislation under the six-point Greener, Greater Buildings plan that will reduce emissions from large existing buildings in the city.

The legislation include the following:
  • New York City Energy Code Bill that will require all buildings being renovated to comply with the standard energy code International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
  • Benchmarking Bill that will require a benchmarking standard evaluating a building’s energy efficiency for all private buildings greater than 50,000 sq.ft. or public buildings greater than 10,000 sq.ft.

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France promotes compostable plastic bags

France recently signed a framework agreement to promote development and commercialization of compostable bioplastic bags.

The covenant was signed by the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, the French Mayors Association (AMF), the Federation of Commerce and Distribution in France (FCD), the French Bioplastics Association (Club Bio-plastiques), the Association of Plastics Manufacturers (Plastics Europe) and the French Plastic and Flexible Packaging Association (ELIPSO).

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December 21, 2009

Green Christmas tips

The chemical industry knows a thing or to to make your holidays green not blue -- trying to practice my poetry skill here. = )

Here are some tips from the America Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) to make the holidays more environment-friendly. The Institute works to foster the discovery and design of chemical products and processes that eliminate generation and use of hazardous substances.
  • RECYCLE -Instead of buying everything new during the holidays, try recycling a few things like paper, ribbons, tags, bags and even used batteries. If your community offers a program to turn used Christmas trees into mulch or wood chips, use it.

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Weekly News Roundup

Posts will be few in the next two weeks as the Green Blog prepares for the holidays (I still have some last minute shopping to do!) as well as working on a deadline for a sustainable building and construction article. Unfortunately, there seems to be more news coming out this month so I hope to get as much of them as I can.

For now, here are last week's news roundup:

Lactide for bioplastics
Purac will start construction of a lactide plant in Thailand to produce components for bioplastics. The EUR 45 million ($64.6m) plant will start up in the second half of 2011.

Bagasse to biogas
Cetrel and Novozymes joined in a research partnership to turn the sugarcane waste bagasse into biogas using enzymes. The biogas can be used to produce electricity for production facilities, and surplus electricity can be sold to the market through the electric grid.

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December 17, 2009

Companies phase out flame retardant

Chemical companies Albemarle, Chemtura and ICL just announced today that they will phase out their flame retardant product Deca-BDE even though it has been deemed safe for years by scientific studies

Albemarle said there are other "environmentally sound and safe" substitutes for the flame retardant that are available today. The company notes its newly launched polymer-based flame retardant technology GreenArmor, which is said to be a recyclable and eco-friendly alternative to decabrom technology.

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Green Danish in California

A very interesting development here is the recent agreement between the Danish government and the Californian environment authorities on green chemistry initiatives.

The Danish Minister for the Environment, Troels Lund Poulsen, said this cooperation will focus on exchanging experience, training, and best available technology in the chemicals field, particularly on endocrine disruptors, combination effects and nanotechnology.

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Novomer's green plastic coming soon

Finals is over (woohoo!) and now I can get back to blogging and tweeting.

This one is about the the $800,000 funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYERSDA) will soon help Novomer commercialize its polypropylene carbonate (PPC) materials made carbon dioxide.

Novomer said it will use Kodak Specialty Chemicals' existing facility at Eastman Business Park in Rochester, NY, for a pilot project to create the PPC plastic for packaging and coating applications (examples are bottles and shrink wrap). Other potential PPC markets include surfactants and fibers.  The Rochester Institute of Technology is helping with the product processing development, according to Novomer.

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December 16, 2009

Weekly News Roundup

So my news roundup schedule is busted the past two weeks but it's a shame to not post these announcements especially updates about bio-succinic acid. I have also several consulting studies on draft that hopefully will soon be posted (as soon as school final exams are over this week! Yeah!).

For now here are last week's big announcements. The biggest one by the way is oil company Valero dipping it's fingers in jatropha biodiesel for $3.5bn!

Valero's $3.5bn biodiesel deal
Australian biodiesel refiner and jatropha producer Mission NewEnergy entered a 5-year biodiesel supply deal with oil company Valero. Mission will supply Valero up to 200,000 tonnes/year of biodiesel and the option to double the amount and extend the contract to 5 more years. Valero also has the right to buy 25% of Mission's common shares. The deal represents gross revenue potential to Mission of over US$3.5 billion.

Bio-succinic in PBS plastic
Bioamber (a joint venture between DNP Green Technology and ARD) and Sinoven Biopolymers Inc. have signed a supply agreement for biobased succinic acid. Bioamber will be Sinoven's exclusive supplier of biobased succinic acid, enabling Sinoven to produce renewable modified polybutylene succinate plastic (PBS).

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December 14, 2009

Unilever drops palm oil supplier

Big consumer goods manufacturer Unilever is making an example of how serious they are when it comes to sourcing sustainable raw materials for their products.

Last Friday, Unilever said it will stop all future purchase of palm oil from the Indonesian company PT SMART, part of the Sinar Mas group, until they clean up their act and provide verifiable proof that none of their palm plantations are contributing to the destruction of forests and peat lands.

Early in 2009 Unilever conducted an independent audit of its major suppliers, and the company said it revealed several areas of concern that are now being addressed on an individual basis.

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Emails about Copenhagen

The green blog does not believe on waste so here are some of the emails I received about reports and activities concerning the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (before they magically disappear lol!).
  • The Global Climate Network released its report, "Low-Carbon Jobs in an Interconnected World", stating that low-carbon policies has the potential to create 20 million jobs between now and 2020 in low-carbon energy in eight of the world’s leading economies including the United States, China, India, and the United Kingdom.
  • Several news from enzyme producer Novozymes at the Summit including a development deal on advanced biofuel with Indian biofuel technology company Praj; participating in a "Hopenhagen" car parade using waste-based biofuel; showcasing to journalists their Volvo limousines that run on straw-based biofuel; and showcasing at the Sustainable fashion industry conference its textile technology that reduces emissions of fabrics.

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Copenhagen video updates

Once again, I apologize for the sparse blog as I tried to sharpen my brain last week for my school exams, which unfortunately is still ongoing this week (finals week ugh!) I'll start with some video updates from the Climate Change summit in Copenhagen.

European Union leaders last Friday agreed to pay $10.5 billion over the next three years to help poor countries begin tackling the effects of global warming. The developing world, meanwhile, is said to be seeking a commitment from industrial powers to provide long-term financing of more than $100 billion each year by the end of the next decade. No answers from European Union leaders...Hey can't blame them. $100bn/year is pretty steep I think.

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December 9, 2009

Weekly News Roundup

Another "better late than never" post in this week's news roundup! I guess one of my wish list this holiday is to have an elf or two helping me in my social media operations = ). I wonder if Santa has a twitter account....

Lithium-ion in smart grids

Advanced lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel enters the utility-scale energy storage market, supplying batteries for a major new smart grid program by the US Department of Energy. EnerDel will build the batteries for five one-megawatt power systems that will be used by Portland General Electric (PGE)to help manage peak demand and smooth the variations in power from renewable sources like wind and solar.

Thermochem production of biofuels
Ceres is working with CHOREN to optimize energy crops for thermochemical conversion to advanced low-carbon biofuels. The process does not require enzymes or microorganisms; instead, the biomass is gasified producing synthesis gas, a carbon monoxide and hydrogen-rich gas that can be converted into high quality synthetic fuels, intermediate chemicals or electricity.

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Green Chemicals from November

Sorry about the blog's temporary hiatus as I am up to my eyeballs with exams this week and needed every extra minute to cram information in my aching brain. By the way, thanks for the good luck wishes from @AmChemistry and @plasticpossible = )

Our green chemicals of the month is a little bit late but November was still robust when it comes to green chemicals launch. Also to make amends for the sparse blog these past few days, I will try to post some interesting green commercial products to consider just in time for the holidays!

1. Cognis' green thickener - Cognis launched its DSX 3100, a new nonionic associative polyurethane thickener suitable for water-based architectural and industrial coatings and paints. It is free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), does not contain heavy metals (such as organic tin compounds) or solvents and is odor-free.

2. Cortec's Eco-resin - Cortec introduced its EcoWorks® Resin, a proprietary blend of aliphatic and aromatic polyesters for biodegradable film extruding applications. The resin also contains plant sugar-based components.

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December 4, 2009

Biorefineries get $564m funding

The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected today 19 biorefinery projects that will receive up to $564m funding under the agency's Biorefinery Assistance Program, which promotes development of new and emerging technologies for advanced biofuels, biopower and bioproducts using biomass resources.

Up to $483m will go to 14 pilot scale projects and 4 demonstration-scale biorefinery projects while the remaining $81m will go to Bluefire LLC to accelerate the company's construction of a cellulosic ethanol fuel facility in Fulton, Mississippi. The Bluefire project, which also got previous funding from the DOE, is expected to produce 19m gallons/year of fuel-grade ethanol using using wood wastes, mill residue and sorted municipal waste.

The DOE said all the biorefinery projects will be matched with more than $700m in private and non-government cost-share funds amounting to a total investments of almost $1.3bn.

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Thai bioplastic bag program launched

German chemical company BASF has joined the Thai Bioplastics Industry Association (TBAI), Thailand's National Innovation Agency (NIA) and Germany's Technical Cooperation group GTZ in launching a biodegradable bag project in Thailand, which aims to build composting facilities in the country for efficient waste management as well as support the development of the country's bioplastic industry.

The pilot project is a first for Thailand and will demonstrate the use of bioplastic bags to efficiently collect household organic waste as well as produce fertilizer or other organic matter from that waste.

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December 3, 2009

Brazil renewed

Speaking of Brazil (and in connection to my last post about Amyris), I think I mentioned before that there seems to be more investments and activities going on in that part of the world when it comes to biofuel and renewable-based chemicals.

The blog reported on May 15 about bioplastic development in Brazil. Since then more announcements were noted such as the renewable feedstock of Coca-Cola's PlantBottle being made in Brazil; Brazilian margarine tubs using Cereplast's bioplastic; and Cargill selling its Ingeo bioplastics in Brazil.

Last month, ICIS news reported that Brazilian sugarcane and ethanol producer Pedra Agroindustrial plans to start commercial bioplastics production by late 2012 with a new sugarcane-based bioplastics facility with a capacity of between 35,000-40,000 tonnes/year.

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Amyris' first plant in Brazil

Amyris Biotechnologies will soon produce its first renewable diesel made from sugarcane using its newly purchased ethanol-producing mill owned and operated by the São Martinho Group.

Amyris now owns 40% stake in the Boa Vista mill and plans to manufacture sugarcane-based renewable products for the 2011-2012 harvest season. The mill currently has 2.25 million metric tons of sugarcane crush capacity.

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Green Copenhagen

If you're one of the lucky few who will be attending the Copenhagen climate summit next week, maybe you'll find yourself walking in a renewable-based carpet; drive a European car using renewable-based tires and also fueled by algae; have lunch using bioplastic cups and cutlery; stay in an eco-friendly hotel that uses green cleaning products or even organic toiletries; and attend a fashion show wearing your newly-purchased green/renewable/sustainable textiles.

At the Bella Center where the United Nations global conference on climate change will be held, 15,000 dignitaries will reportedly stand, walk, and rest their feet on an ultra low carbon footprint Eco2punch® carpet made with plant-based Ingeo™ fibers produced by bioplastic producer NatureWorks.

According to French carpet producer Sommer Needlepunch, the "green" carpet reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 60% and reduced energy consumption by 50% compared to petroleum-based carpet. The 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) of carpet is enough to cover nearly five soccer fields.

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Regulation pushes fragrance vs flavours

Increasing regulatory issues pushed the fragrance group of the European Flavours and Fragrance Association (EFFA) to move its regulatory and advocacy activities to the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) effective January 1, 2010.

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December 2, 2009

Soy chem to reach $2.7bn in 2013

I forgot to add this report to my last soy post about soybean-based chemicals demand expected to increase 7.8%/year to $2.7 billion by 2013 according to Freedonia Group.

Methyl soyate used in biodiesel is said to be by far the most established soy chemical although it is beginning to face competition from other raw materials. Methyl soyate is also finding greater use as a solvent in cleaning products and paints and coatings.

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December 1, 2009

26 new soy chemicals in 2009

The green blog continues to see the growing use of soybean and derivatives as a renewable chemical feedstock.

Yesterday, the United Soybean Board (USB) released its annual list of soy-based products the U.S. farmer-led organization helped introduce this year. 26 new soy-based products hit the market in 2009, according to the group, which helps provides funding to scientists and industrial partners to research, develop and commercialize products containing soybeans.

Some of this year’s new products include a soy-based wood floor stain from Rust-Oleum, a line of Simmons mattresses that include soy-based foam, and a soy-based degreaser and adhesive remover available at The Home Depot and Ace Hardware.

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Ethanol blend decision delayed

Just like the FDA delayed its decision about bisphenol-A, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also delayed its decision on whether to raise the allowable ethanol content in fuel which is currently at a maximum of 10%.

The EPA said it will make a final determination in mid-2010 when more testing data is available. The agency said it has also begun the process to craft the labeling requirements that will be necessary if the blending limit is raised.

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BPA war in Britain

The issue on bisphenol-A is definitely worldwide as in the case in the UK where the group Breast Cancer UK recently launched their "No More BPA" campaign today calling the British goverment for a BPA ban.

In their campaign, the group cited a recent survey of 2,101 adults where 61% agreed on a government BPA ban.
"Already voluntarily withdrawn from shelves in Canada and the USA, polycarbonate baby bottles made with BPA are still available in the UK, despite our view being that clear and compelling scientific evidence in lab experiments have linked even low level exposure to increased risk of breast cancer and other chronic conditions." - Breast Cancer UK
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