May 2009 Archives
The book documented the effect of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) on wildlife, particularly birds, and also attacked the way in which the claims made by the chemical industry were accepted uncritically by public officials.
1972 saw the first international conference on the environment convened by the United Nations in Stockholm, Sweden, while in the 1980s saw increased in community-based organizations.
The 1990s saw a switch in chemical safety thinking and regulation from local or national, to international scope.
Another interesting history (shamelessly promoting my materials as usual), is the green blogger's article on the history of fats and oils and how their use in chemicals is once again being developed.
Back in the mid-1850s, marine oils (whale oil and sperm whale oil in particular) were at the top of their peaks as raw materials for burning oil and lubricants for machineries. These applications along with the use of animal fats (tallow) for candles, were replaced by petroleum oil in the late 1800s.
The golden age of fats and oils was around 1935 to 1940 when development for their use for industrial applications soared. An interesting history tidbit was during World War II when housewives collect used cooking fats and sold them to local meat dealers for use in explosives and artillery.
One pound of fat was said to contain enough glycerin to make a pound of black powder, enough for six 75mm shells.
While writing this article, one major thought occurred to me. Without the rise of petroleum industry in the late 1800s, those poor marine animals especially whales and walrus would probably be extinct by now!
Last but not the least is this article from the Huffington Post analyzing the current outcries and predicted doomsday scenarios coming from anti-climate change policies (especially the auto industry back then).
According to Donald Cohen and Peter Dreier of the Center on Policy Initiatives, history had seen that despite fear mongering from industry resisters and lobbyists, enacted policies targeting reduced pollution and stronger environmental standards had been succesful and did not produce tremendous loss to the industry and community that were anticipated.
Here's what the newly installed EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has to say for those who cried Wolf:
"If you look at the history of environmental laws in this country, " she explained, "every time ... the lobbyists say, 'Oh, this will shut down the American economy. Every last one of you will lose jobs.' It's always these overblown, doomsday scenarios that overlook ... the fact that you can indeed build an economy towards green energy."
Ford Motor Company is going back to its roots (soybeans specifically) and is now further investing in more eco-friendly materials and products for automobile parts - interior components front to back, seat cushions and fabrics, underbody and impact shields, headliners, trunk liners, etc.
Here are current biobased products already in their cars:
- Soy-based polyurethane foams on the seat cushions and seat backs, now in production on the Ford Mustang, Expedition, F-150, Focus, Escape, Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner and Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln MKS. Soy-foam headliner on the 2010 Escape and Mariner.
- 100% post-industrial recycled yarns in seat fabrics for the 2008 Ford Escape. 85% post-industrial yarns and 15 percent solution died yarns for the 2010 Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids.
- The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKZ utilize seat fabrics made from 100% post-consumer recycled yarns from plastic pop bottles.
Bats may not be the only creatures having problems with wind farms. It seems these are also being blamed for these goats' insomnia-related deaths.
According to this report from BBC News, the poor goats (about 400 of them) died from exhaustion because of noise coming from the wind turbines installed almost 40 meters away near the goat owner's grazing land.
The power company, Taipower, has offered to pay for part of the costs of building a new farmhouse elsewhere although the company reportedly doubted the goats died from the noise.
"The goats looked skinny and they weren't eating. One night I went out to the farmhouse and the goats were all standing up; they weren't sleeping."The goat owner Mr Kuo Jing-shan had 750 goats and now only have 250 left. He was said to be the only farmer to have reported such large-scale deaths.
As mentioned in yesterday's post, New York Times posted this interesting article about major firms lobbying for businesses and organizations that seek to influence global warming legislation this year. According to a recent study from the watchdog group Center for Public Integrity, more than half of those 880 total businesses and groups are manufacturers, power companies, and the oil and gas industry.
The number of interests lobbying on global warming is also up 14% this year compared to last year. And that's just in the first quarter.
However, don't blame the Obama administration for it. According to the study, the number of interests lobbying on climate change already jumped more than 400% to over 770 from 2003 through 2008. Still, the White House's intense focus on climate change is expected to accelerate more lobbyists this year.
While energy-intensive industries typically want a lesser punitive emissions tax (or trade), companies such as Sun Microsystems, eBay, Google, Microsofit and consumer brand names Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., and Starbucks, have jumped into the fray and are engaged in an organized lobbying push this year - seeking even more aggressive limits on carbon emissions by 2020 than the Waxman-Markey legislation envisions.
According to the report, the companies are lobbying on behalf of themselves and with help from the organization Ceres, a network of institutional investors and environmental groups that has been active for two decades on sustainability issues.
Other new entries are the food processors such as Land O' Lakes, Tyson Foods, the American Beverage Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and the U.S. Beet Sugar Association. These companies are said to be wary of a possible increase in energy costs under any program to limit the carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning.
This is why the House Agriculture Committee is expecting their own major revisions of the recently voted ACES bill.
So if you are looking for a nice, high-paying job that might be more secured than the financial sector, you might want to consider these top 10 lobbying firms that represent almost 100 of those business interests -- including some of the biggest trade organizations and companies most active in the climate change debate.
Speaking of lobbyists, the New York Times posted a pretty interesting article on top climate change lobbyists in Washington, which I'll post later on this week. For now here are some of last week's green news from around the world:
Rhodia's GHG reduction project
Rhodia received the first Emission Reduction Units generated in Europe, coming from a greenhouse gas emission reduction project located in its French industrial site of Salindres. The project, which started in August 2008, will enable an average annual reduction of about 200 000 tons of CO2 equivalent over the 2009-2012 period.
Fluor's new clean energy biz
Engineering company Fluor has formed a dedicated business line within its Power Group to focus on global renewable energy needs specifically for clients in the solar, wind and biomass sectors.
Washington (and the chemical industry) is abuzz this week with the proposed American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act by House Reps Waxman and Markey.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce passed the bill on May 21 with a 33-25 vote. The bill aims to cut global warming pollution by 17% compared to 2005 levels in 2020, by 42% in 2030, and by 83% in 2050. The House is now expected to vote on the amended bill in the next few months.
The most controversial plan under the bill is the proposed cap-and-trade (or is it tax?) program where it would cap US industrial and transportation emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) and auction emissions permits to the broad industrial sector. The sale of emissions permits would likely raise $646bn during its first eight years of implementation, according to the White House.
According to this recent report from Linx-AEI Consulting, the global market for advanced chemicals and materials used in photovoltaic solar cells and modules might decline this year to $2.3 billion (probably because of the current economy) but it will resume strong growth by 2015 approaching around $15bn.
The driver of growth in the PV market will be the global end market demand for solar power, which is expected to grow from 5.7 GW to 36 GW over the same time period, said Linx-AEI.
The consulting group, cautions, however, that the solar energy industry is still strongly impacted by policy.
"There is a critical need for all value chain participants to continually monitor and understand levelized cost of energy, technology development, existing investment and changes in policy. This need has been clearly illustrated with the current turmoil in the supply of polysilicon."Clearly, chemical companies are responding to the solar energy's blinding growth (*lol) with several recent investment announcements and product launches.
Evonik said it will build in Japan an integrated production facility for monosilane and its Aerosil product. Evonik said this is the first step in the positioning of the company's solar silicon activities on the attractive Asian market.
Silanes are key components for solar cells. Silicon tetrachloride obtained as a by-product of monosilane production in Yokkaichi will be processed into AEROSIL® and marketed separately. The facility is expected to come on stream in 2011.
Dow Corning is setting up its second Solar Solutions Application Center this time in Korea. The first one is in Michigan, USA, which opened in May 2008.
The company said the Korean facility will enable engineers and scientists to work with customers to develop, evaluate, and pilot materials solutions used to manufacture solar panels. This center also expects to capture solar industry and manufacturing growth in Asia.
The laboratory of the Solar Solutions Application Center Korea is scheduled to open in late 2009 and pilot production equipment could come online by early 2010.
DuPont recently launched its new PV5200 Series photovoltaic (PV) encapsulant sheets, based on polyvinyl butyral (PVB) polymer technology. The company said the new PVB sheets offer physical and processing performance levels proven in laminated glass manufacturing, with additional features designed to meet the needs of thin-film solar power generation.
Besides the PV5200 Series, DuPont anticipates the launch of several other PV sheet technologies in 2009.
PolyOne launched in April its ECCOH™ Low Smoke and Fume, Zero Halogen (LSFOH) compounds for cables used in photovoltaic solar cells. The company said solar photovoltaic technology requires specific cabling systems with zero halogen, flame-retardant insulation and sheathing layers. The outer jacket must also be resistant to moisture, sunlight, heat, chemicals and abrasion.
Late last month, the Department of Energy announced that it will provide $93 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support further development of wind energy in the United States. In additional, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will get an additional $100 million (and more) to upgrade its facility and infrastructure.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA),the US industry installed over 2,800 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in the first quarter of 2009. The total wind power generating capacity in operation in the U.S. is now 28,206 MW, enough to serve over 8 million homes and avoid the emissions of 52 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
States with the most rapid growth in wind capacity in the first quarter include Indiana (75%), Maine (55%), Nebraska (53%), Idaho (49%) and New York (34%).
Relating to chemicals, Ashland announced this month its expanded product offerings for the wind energy market with the addition of Derakane® 601-200 epoxy vinyl ester resin, Envirez® unsaturated polyester resin from renewable and recycled resources, Pliogrip® structural adhesive, and Enguard® bonding paste.
The company also recently collaborated with Amtech, LLC and Endurance Wind Power to produce wind turbine blades at Amtech's North American manufacturing facility in Washington state. Amtech will produce wind blades for Endurance Wind Power Inc.'s line of small to mid-sized wind turbines using Ashland's resins.
Read more recent chemical company investments on wind energy in previous posts.
A toxicologists survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) and Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University, found that majorities of toxicologists rate most government agencies as accurately portraying chemical risks, but they rate the media as well as leading environmental activist groups as overstating risks.
This survey of 937 members of the Society of Toxicology (SOT) was administered online from Jan 27 to March 2.
Survey director Dr. Robert Lichter said the public doesn't get a full and balanced picture of chemical risk and that the media and scientists ultimately share the responsibility for how chemical risks are portrayed to the public.
Here are some of the major findings of the survey:
A. Toxicologists Rate Chemical Safety and Regulation --
When asked to agree or disagree with statements about chemical safety and regulation:
- 26% believe cosmetics pose a significant health risk
- 33% believe food additives pose a significant health risk
- 55% believe pesticides pose a significant health risk
- 53% believe chemicals cause endocrine disruption
- 10% believe organic or "natural" products are inherently safer
- 6% believe that any exposure to a harmful chemical is unacceptable
- 69% say chemicals do not need to be regulated according to the precautionary principle
- 23% say the U.S. regulatory system is inferior to Europe's
- 54% say U.S. regulators are not doing a good job explaining chemical risks
The blog posted last year in July about EPA's proposal to cancel the pesticide's registration. I guess it took them almost a year to make a definite action as the sole producer of the pesticide, FMC, filed a protest (and a lawsuit) against the EPA. The agency started its carbofuran cancellation effort in 2006.
Carbofuran is an N-methyl carbamate insecticide and nematicide that has been registered to control pests in soil and on leaves in a variety of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. According to the EPA, all products containing carbofuran generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on humans and the environment and do not meet safety standards, and therefore are ineligible for reregistration.
FMC said it will file objections and seek an administrative hearing.
With the EPA action, FMC said it can still sell and growers can use carbofuran until December 31, 2009. The company will follow all available administrative procedures and hopes to have the product available for the next crop growing year.
One problem with the cancellation registration, according to FMC, is that there are no alternatives to carbofuran in certain plant application such as in sunflower or killing rootworm. One 'concerned farmer' who commented last year on the blog said that carbofuran is one of the only chemicals that kills soybean aphids.
Plastic manufacturers beware! I've been seeing a lot of these "Guides on safe plastics" in the tweeting world...
Here's one from the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. They place HDPE (#2), LDPE (#4) and PP (#5) as safe plastics, while the rest -- PET (#1), PVC (#3), PS (#6), and others including polycarbonate (#7), not safe.
About Physicians for Social Responsibility: "A medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and toxic degradation of the environment"
Here's a Healthier Food Uses of Plastics advice from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: "With your food, use #4, #5, #1 and #2. #3 and #6 are not good for you!"
Also their 10 tips for safer, more sustainable food use of plastics:
- Avoid #7, labeled PC.
- Avoid using plastic containers in the microwave.
- Beware of cling wraps, especially for microwave use.
- Use alternatives to plastic packaging whenever possible.
- Avoid plastic bottled water (unless you're traveling or live in an area where the quality of water is questionable).
- If you do use plastic water bottles, take precautions.
- Use alternatives to polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and "sippy" cups.
- Avoid buying any products made of PVC (#3)
- Choose bio-based plastic.
- Take action.
Finally, from National Geographic's Green Guide: Plastic Containers 101:
Best Buy are #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP. #1 PET is fine for single use. You can't recycle PLA plastics but you can compost them. Plastics to Avoid are #3 PVC, #6 PS and #7 PC (because of Bisphenol A).
Here's a video of Green Guide correspondent Patty Kim on plastics.
Just got this email from our good friends at BioChemica about their new organic fruit butters for personal care applications, which they launched at the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists (SCC) Suppliers' Day.
These butters, consisting of fruits such as Acai, Pomegranate, Cranberry, Blueberry and Black Currant, look so darn tempting that I can't resist posting their pictures.
BioChemica said these Organic Fruit Butters not only offer high levels of moisturization, but also aid in cellular regeneration, free radical scavenging, reduction of wrinkles and fine lines because of their high vitamin C content.
Catching up on some of the twitter news I encountered last week, one is a May 1 ruling from Judge Ronald Longstaff in Iowa that said DuPont is off the hook with its Teflon case.
DuPont said the Des Moines, Iowa, federal court dismissed a consolidated group of 22 cases filed on behalf of consumers who purchased cookware with Teflon® non-stick coating.
The 4-year old suit alleged Teflon-coated cookwares when heated to normal cooking temperatures release toxic particles particularly perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) that pose a health risk to consumers. The suits claimed that DuPont had a duty to warn consumers of the dangers of Teflon but failed to do so.
The case was dropped because if failed to convince the court it deserved class-action status, reported AP News. Had it been granted, the lawsuit would have sought to compensate millions of owners of Teflon-coated cookware. Attorneys have estimated the case could have cost the Wilmington, Del.-based chemicals company $5 billion if it had been successful.
DuPont said the ruling made it clear that Teflon® non-stick coatings in cookware is safe. Still Dupont is already phasing out PFOA and as of December 28 last year, announced that it already converted 95% of the company's sales volume for aqueous fluoropolymer dispersions to newly formulated technology that reduces PFOA content by 99%.
The American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Progressive Bag Affiliates said today that Philadelphia's City Council rejected on May 14 the proposed 25-cent-per-bag tax on plastic and paper grocery bags.
The ACC welcomed the City Council's vote and said that recycling is the answer and not taxing consumers.
According to the ACC's recent Post-Consumer Plastic Bottle Recycling Report, US plastic bottle recycling in 2007 reached a record-high of more than 2.3bn pounds. Still, many consumers are unaware of the significant usefulness, demand, and value of recycled plastic high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the group said.
Another challenge is the lack of sufficient access to recycling collection opportunities for products used away from home.
Some of the end-use markets for recycled plastics include non-food application bottles, such as for detergent, motor oil, household cleaners, etc; pipe and lawn and garden products; plastic lumber; pallets/crates/buckets; and in automotive.
The California-based bioplastic producer said that it is exiting the manufacturing business and instead will contract with large compounders to produce its bio-based resins because of a worldwide excess of plastics compounding capacity. Cereplast will instead focus on product development and customer service.
"With increasing worldwide demand for bio-plastics driven by a movement toward sustainable solutions, we now realize that relying on our own manufacturing facilities will actually limit our growth. Building manufacturing capacity is extremely capital and management intensive and best left to those who make it their specialty."Cereplast currently has production facilities at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California and a yet-to-be opened facility in Seymour, Indiana. The company said it is currently trying to reduce its in-house manufacturing capacity and its manufacturing-related workforce.
I do wonder if Cereplast will only concentrate on domestic plastic compounders or will it go outside the US where materials and labor are cheaper? It seems that US plastic compounders are at disadvantage especially when it comes to plastic bags as imports are flooding in from Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia.
According to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), the plastic bags from these countries are being sold in the US at less than fair value. Government subsidy programs also greatly benefits plastic bags producers in Vietnam making it possible for them to export cheaper plastic bags, said ITC.
[Photo from CNET Networks]
Evonik Goldschmidt's Lauren Kjeldsen said that aside from anti-aging, natural-based products are big sellers in the cosmetic and personal care market worldwide. The company launched at the show a new natural-based thickening agent called Antil Soft SC, which the company said, can work as a foam booster even in polyethylene glycol (PEG)-free and sulfate-free skin and hair care product formulations.
The ingredient is said to be readily biodegradable and conforms to Ecocert standards, which certifies whether an ingredient is really natural or organic. Ecocert and organic certification was the buzzword at last year's show but it seems to have died down a bit this year.
Evonik launched six new products at the show and another ingredient that was highlighted (in terms of 'greeness') was its ethylene oxide (EO)-free liquid concentrate, Tego Wipe Lux, for cosmetic wet wipes. The emulsifier/emollient/phenoxyethanol is said to contain cottonseed oil.
Bayer MaterialScience, which entered the cosmetics market last year, touted its new 'green-tinge' polyurethane-based ingredients under the tradename Baycusan C at the show. The ingredients, which are used as film formers and sensory aids, are said to be solvent-free and preservative-free.
Bayer also announced that it is building a new facility in Germany specifically for the prodcution of Baycusan water-borne polyurethane dispersions for cosmetics and medical applications.
First stop is Coca-Cola's announcement of its new plant-based plastic bottle, 30% of which is made from sugar cane and molasses. The rest of the plastic is petroleum-based polyethylene (PET).
The company said the 100% recyclable plastic bottle can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. Coca-Cola North America will pilot the "PlantBottle™" with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year and with VitaminWater in 2010.
Bioplastic manufacturer Metabolix, meanwhile, got proof that their plastic is compostable in Europe. The company's Mirel™ bioplastic resins received the Vinçotte certification of "OK Compost" for compostability in an industrial composting unit and "OK Compost HOME" for compostability in home composting systems. Hmmm, only ok?? No great, plantastic, or plantabulous???
The bill is expected to be voted on this week before Memorial Day weekend starts. We'll see how it will goes. For now, here are last week's news roundup:
Michigan's electric vehicle plant
Ford invests $550 million to transform Michigan Assembly Plant (formerly Michigan Truck Plant) from a large SUV factory into a modern, flexible small car plant. Production for the North American market of the new global Ford Focus begins next year followed by production in 2011 of a battery-electric Focus.
Engineering waste reduction
Water engineering and services company Ecosphere signed a deal with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to jointly market Ecosphere's technology to the oil & gas industry where it can treat and recycle their wastewater, reduce completion costs, reduce CO2 and methane emissions, and preserve vital water resources.
Another BASF official also noted that bioplastics will still remain niche players in the plastic industry for the foreseeable future.
Dow Chemical, meanwhile, said it will continue to pursue its plans to build a ethanol-to-polyethylene (PE) complex in Brazil. Dow reiterated that statement in the show as a Brazilian newspaper recently reported the company suspending the $1bn ($750m) project.
Start-up of the plant is expected in mid-2011.
Solvay Indupa, the Brazil arm of Belgium-based chemical major Solvay, is also building a "green" plyvinylchloride (PVC) plant in Sao Paulo. The PVC plant will use "green" ethylene feedstock made from sugarcane ethanol and is expected to start in 2011.
Brazilian polyolefins producer Quattor plans to use glycerine-based propylene to produce polypropylene (PP) plastic. The company expects to have commercial production of green propylene and green PP by 2012.
Finally, several participants at the show expressed their worries that consumers may get confused with the disposal of bioplastic as a compostable material as opposed to recycling traditional plastics. Costs for sorting out the proper plastics will also be cumbersome, some said.
Here are additional information for ICIS subscribers:
The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) presented two topics, one on phosphate regulations for automatic dishwashing detergents (ADDs), and the other covering the growing consumer demand for ingredient disclosures in consumer cleaning products.
The SDA's general counsel, Michelle Radecki, pointed out that the cleaning industry is facing a lot of pressures towards disclosing ingredients in their products especially with the Green Chemistry legislation recently enacted in California.
The SDA, along with the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) and its Canadian counterpart, the CCSPA, formed a voluntary consumer product ingredient communication initiative, where members will disclosed all their chemical ingredients (with the exception of fragrances, preservatives and dyes) in their air care, automotive, cleaning and polishes and floor maintenance products, starting January 1, 2010.
Members are said to be hesitant in listing down their fragrance, preservatives and dyes ingredients because of their highly proprietary nature (not to mention that any consumers who see phthalates as part of the fragrance ingredient will hesitate in buying the product...).
SDA's Radecki said more than 90% of their members are expected to participate in the program. SC Johnson already started listing their ingredients and even included dyes, preservatives and fragrances that they used. SDA said they are working with various fragrance industries in order for manufacturers to be able to disclose their fragrance ingredients.
I got this email from the Washington News Observer (sort of like TMZ except covering politics instead of celebrity news *lol*) and they send several YouTube clips about their exclusive interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) criticizing Obama's emulation of Spain's renewable energy industry. This topic seems to be getting a lot of comments and debates.
In the beginning of the interview, Bachmann said she talked to Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, who wrote the study about Spain's unsustainable green jobs coming from renewable energy.
Here is a nice quote taken from Bachmann's interview:
"The sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow. Therefore, we need additional base power to make electricity. What happens is Spain has to tell some businesses...sorry there won't be electricity for you tomorrow..."
ICIS Chemical Business (the magazine I work for) actually interviewed Eastman Chemical's chairman and CEO Brian Ferguson who is also outspoken and more critical about the cap-and-trade proposal.
"The cap-and-trade proposal, which would tax US companies using fossil fuels, could be "crippling" to US manufacturers," Ferguson said.According to a recent report from the think-tank group the Heritage Foundation, the Waxman-Markey bill (from which the cap-and-trade proposal is expected to rise) would cut overall manufacturing jobs by 23% and cause some manufacturing industries such as Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oregon to lose more than 50% of their jobs.
"These are additional costs that foreign competitors who import into the US wouldn't have to bear. We must have an energy policy that takes this into account and does not put us at further competitive disadvantage."
"Cap-and-trade programs frequently include provisions to protect domestic industries from competition with firms in countries that have not adopted similarly costly mechanisms for reducing CO2. While the intent is certainly understandable, the provisions create the possibility of a protectionist wolf in global-warming clothes."The Foundation cited Indiana as the topmost state at risk from the cap-and-trade bill followed by Ohio.
Indiana's large manufacturing sector with more than 600,000 jobs accounting for nearly 20% of all employment - combined with a heavy reliance on coal (94% of all energy) put the state at the top of the group's national Manufacturing Vulnerability Index, which reveals which areas of the country will experience direct harm under a cap-and-trade scheme.
The second day at the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) centennial meeting was particularly interesting as in their Hot Topics Symposia for the morning session, I have to choose between Historical Perspectives on the Chemistry of Oils and Fats (given that I was writing an article last week with this particular topic) and Sustainability for the Future in Fats and Oils.
I flipped a coin and the Sustainability topic won.
This was actually fortunate as the presentations from Unilever and Kimberly-Clark were very engaging and informative.
Kimberly-Clark (or "K-C") was vocal about about the irritating lack of definition for the term "green" and prefers the word "sustainable" instead. The company defined sustainability according to Dow Jones Sustainability Index definition:
"It's a business approach to create long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risk derived from economic, environmental and social developments"The company said it led the personal products category of the 2008 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for fourth straight year.
Ken Strassner, senior vice president for Kimberly Clark USA, also highlighted the importance of employee engagement as part of the company's sustainability strategy and particularly noted Wal-Mart's personal employee sustainable goals program as a good example.
Wal-Mart's program help their associates develop individual goals to improve their health and wellness and the health of the environment.
"This program is a powerful tool and can help employees effectively communicate to customers the company's sustainability goals," said Strassner.Some of the sustainability issues that the company expects to tackle in the years ahead include carbon emissions, resource consumption, water use, environmental product labels and certifications, economic and social sustainability, credibility and effective communications.
According to Genomatica, several waves of sustainability thinking are already sweeping across chemical producers, with some companies further advanced than others.
"In the first wave, companies are taking a keen interest in improving their sustainability, mainly through looking at energy usage and their carbon footprint. In the second wave, they are examining the products themselves, and beginning to ask whether they can produce materials in a more sustainable manner fromrenewable feedstocks." - GenomaticaDo you agree or disagree on this? Tell us what you think by filling up this survey about sustainable chemicals.
The results will be aggregated and analyzed by ICIS and reported in the magazine at the end of June. ICIS is offering an iPod Touch to the person whose name is drawn first from the list of those completing the survey.
Day 1: May 4 - Monday Morning
The Soap & Detergent (S&D) session started their green theme topic at 7:55a (yes, that early!) covering presentations such as Akzo Nobel's new biodegradable chelating agent from L-glutamic acid. The chelate L-glutamic acid, N,N-diacetic acid ("GL" for short) also allows formulators to reduce water content and thus also reduce packaging and transport impact of consumer goods, Akzo Nobel said.
GL is said to have around 53% bio-based content.
Cognis, meanwhile, explained how their green formulation classification works. One of the major problems in creating green formulation for home care and personal care, said Cognis, is the lack of national and international green standards. In cleaning products, the lack of green polymers and green foam stabilizers has also made it difficult [but not impossible] to develop superior-performance green cleaning chemicals.
I'll also attend tomorrow's Society of Cosmetic Chemists' (NY branch) Suppliers' Day and maybe will get some updates on new green ingredients [and processing] development for cosmetics and personal care. Stay tune!
For now, here are last week's new roundup:
Europe wants woodchips
Green Energy Resources a 5-year contract for thirty-six (36) shipments per year of woodchips for energy use valued at $61 million/year. The company's target is to capture a 20% market share of European woodchip energy imports by 2011.
Color and additive solutions provider Americhem says it is switching its primary coolant use in manufacturing to liquid nitrogen to reduce CO2 emissions. The company also plans to have zero landfill output from all their facilities by the end of 2013.
BPA producer Hexion Specialty Chemicals recently announced its plans to indefinitely idle its BPA3 production unit, part of its manufacturing complex in Deer Park, Texas.
Hexion said the decision was made because of continued soft demand for BPA due to the economic downturn.
"We will continue to operate our newer BPA4 unit in Deer Park, as well as our BPA unit in Pernis, The Netherlands, ensuring a continued supply for our merchant customers and our internal requirements," the company said.
The use of BPA has been in the middle of various US statewide (and proposed federal) bans as several reports have linked BPA's health risk. BPA has been found in polycarbonate bottles as well as other food containers.
Just last week, Minnesota became the first state to ban the use of BPA in the manufacturing of sippy cups and bottles effective January 1, 2010. The ban extends to all retailers in the state a year later.
Other states such as California, Connecticut, Michigan and New York are considering similar legislation.
While some alternatives are already coming out to replace BPA, the use of chemical is still difficult to phase out in other applications, according to consultants.
I'll be back on Monday with a wrap-up of [some of] last week's American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) centennial meeting in Orlando and history tidbits of the fats and oils-based chemical industry.
US organic food sales grew 16% to reach $22.9 billion, while organic non-food sales grew 39% to $1.648 billion. Organic food sales is said to now account for 3.5% of all food product sales in the US.
According to OTA, drivers for the increase include increasing stores offering organic products. Major organic brands are also offering more coupons, and value-positioned products, while private label brands have also increased contributing to more sales.
It must be true as I've visited Whole Foods and Trader Joe's a couple of times, and they're always packed!
But I do wonder about the organic non-food market though. Food maybe one thing but when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products (and even organic fabrics), consumers might be a little bit more thrifty in that area. As far as I heard, organic cosmetics and toiletries still have premiums compared to their naturals-category sibling.
Consulting firm Kline & Company also noted in one of their recent cosmetic & toiletries report that given the current economic climate, marketers may likely forgo the extra cost for certified organic ingredients in lieu of natural-inspired cosmetic and personal care products (products with ingredients that range from unnatural to those that are natural wherever chemistry allows but also include silicones, polysorbates, ethoxylates or chemical derivatives...).
"Manufacturers are weighing the value of investing in certification against the potential return on that investment," says Kline.
That is one of the ongoing debate being discussed at consulting and tax firm Deloitte.
Many solar players are said to be opting to invest their solar manufacturing plants in cheaper places such as China unless the government will give incentives for them to invest in the US. Another counterpoint is that current US incentives being given are still not as competitive as other countries.
Phil Schneider of Deloitte Consulting advised that if global solar companies want to get a foothold of the US market, now is the time to convince policymakers to give out greater incentives as US public policy will likely change dramatically this year and in 2010.
Mike Reno of Deloitte Tax LLP notes that solar manufacturers have plenty of tools to work in making the US their key production spot. Federal tax incentives is a crucial part but state incentives such as tax holidays, job creation grants and property tax relief will also make their vision a reality.
With global climate initiatives on the horizon as discussion in Copenhagen is set later this year, Rebecca Ranich, Deloitte Consulting director, said that solar companies would be smart to give special attention to shipping and transportation cost scenarios if carbon legislation moves forward.
The United Soybean Board (USB) gave me an update during the #AOCS meeting about new industrial projects (and a long list at that) on soy-based development as of April 2009.
In plastics category, there are about 28 projects; 7 in lubricants and solvents; 6 in fibers; 23 in coatings, inks and adhesives; and 15 in other emerging industrial applications such as soy oil biofuel cell; arabitol/xylitol from biodiesel-based glycerol; high energy density glycerol battery; soy meals to hydrogels; and methyl soyate as a mosquito larvicide.
Recently completed projects include:
- Dow Chemical's soy polyol monomer development and trials
- Chevron Phillips' soy-based polythiol research and development
- The University of Wisconsin's soy protein properties for thermoplastic applications
- PARC Technical Service's used soy oil hydroprocessing evaluation
- Iowa State University's soy mid-oleic and low linolenic (1%) beans production
- TribSys' development of soy oil for metal working fluids
- Battelle Memorial Institutes's development of soy-based powder coatings
- Lehigh University's Optimizing UV/EB curing of soy for inks
- Cambridge Biopolymers' soy oil for use as thermoset adhesive resins
- St. Louis University's development of soy oil biofuel cell
- TNO's soy meal as a water soluble hydrogel for irrigation
- Elevance Renewable Sciences' petrolatum from soy oil via metathesis
- Marvin Technology Associates' development of cost effective soy flake-based fiber
- Clemson University's soy protein processing routes for fibers and films
- Tens Tech Inc.'s processing finishes and surface modifiers for soy fiber
- North Dakota State University's development of soy-based UV curable coatings
- Forest Products Lab's improved performance for heat resistant soy adhesives
- Kansas State University's soy oil latex for pressure sensitive adhesives
- Niemann & Associates' soy oil polymers as roofing/insulation adhesives
- Sherwin Williams' development of waterborne soy latex emulsions
- University of Tennessee's acrolein from crude glycerol by supercritical water technology
In the oils-related news, European equipment supplier Mann+Hummel Group has developed an air filter system made from bio-polyamide, which is now ready for commercial production. The polyamide used for the filter, supplied by BASF, consists of around 60% sebacic acid which is obtained from castor oil.
For more on the development of fats and oils-based industrial applications, read my April 27 article on ICIS Chemical Business. Other articles in this Fats and Oils feature include an exclusive Q&A with the CEO of Brazilian fatty alcohol producer Oxiteno; the state of Asia's biodiesel and oleochemical market; the biodiesel war between Europe and the US; and the greening of the polyurethane market worldwide.
Happy fats and oils reading!
On the way to Orlando, I picked up Delta's Sky magazine (May 2009 issue) and lo and behold, two top green stories, one about their top 10 Eco Resorts and the other, an interesting analysis on plastic water bottle.
For the top eco-resorts, Chaa Creek in Belize got the number one spot featuring treetop suites, while Lapa Rios in Costa Rica (said to be the first eco-resort in Costa Rica) got the second runner up with its locally made furniture, and Black Sheep Inn in Ecuador was the third with the inn perched high in the Andes mountains.
Author Jennifer Vogel, meanwhile, wrote about America's love affair with bottled water but it seems environmentalists and green advocates are winning the battle as for the first time, plastic bottled water sales slipped last year by 3.6%
Fiji Water is said to have laid off 20% in December because of slow sales while Nestle announced in February that it cut 26% on spending on its water business.
Some are changing their image with some green make-up such as cutting off use of plastic with Nestle's Poland Spring Eco-shaped bottle, or Fiji investing in reforestation (and altering shipping routes to slash emissions).
The magazine also talked about the burgeoning biotechnology industry in Georgia. State economic developers are said to have attracted more than $3bn in commercial green energy projects in the past 3 years.
For now, here are last week's news roundup focusing mostly on alternative energy (too busy meeting deadlines last week to search for more..)
World's largest solar tower plant
Abengoa Solar has begun commercial operation of the new PS20 solar power tower plant located at the Solucar Platform, near Seville (Spain). The new 20-megawatt solar power plant will produce enough energy to supply 10,000 homes. In another news, Abengoa is said to be developing new materials for higher-efficient and lower-cost CO2 capture processes.
Clean coal plant starts
White Energy Company (WEC) completed construction of the first one million tonne/year clean coal upgrading modular plant at Bayan's Tabang mine in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The plant utilises WEC's Binderless Coal Briquetting clean coal upgrading technology.
1. Rhodia eco-solvent - Rhodia says its new solvent, Rhodiasolv IRIS, designed for numerous uses such as paint stripping, graffiti removers, industrial cleaning, paint and coating formulation, is readily biodegradable, non VOC* (volatile organic compound), non toxic and non flammable. The product is said to be a suitable alternative to traditional VOC solvents or toxic solvents, such as methylene chloride or N-Methylpyrrolidone.
2. PPG green coatings - PPG Industries says its new Desoprime HS CA 7502 high-solids exterior epoxy primer can be an alternative to chromated pretreatment and primers used in aircraft painting system.
3. Teknor's phthalate alternative plasticizers - Teknor Apex now offers alternatives to phthalate plasticizers for vinyl toys and child-care products. The company says every vinyl compound supplied by Teknor is formulated for recyclability.
4. Clariant sunflower emulsifier - Clariant introduced its new "green" Hostacerin® SFO - a sunflower-oil based emulsifier for creams, lotions and sun care products produced via an energy-saving process. The emulsifier is Ecocert-certified.