This week, three Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and James Inhofe (R-OK), introduced the General Duty Clarification Act of 2013. The bill would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clarify standards for the Clean Air Act's General Duty Clause. EPA has used the ambiguity contained in the clause to regulate chemical plants. A copy of the bill is available online.
Renewable fuel and chemical company Virent and cellulosic sugar producer Renmatix have announced plans to collaborate to convert cellulosic sugars to renewable chemicals and biobased packaging materials. According to Virent's press release on the effort, "Renmatix's Plantrose™ platform will be evaluated and potentially optimized to provide an affordable sugar stream for Virent's Bioforming® process for the large-scale production of bio-based paraxylene. Paraxylene is a basic raw material used in the manufacture of purified terephthalic acid (PTA), an important chemical in the production of plastic bottles and fibers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Integrating local feedstock processing with on-site commercial production will lower costs and increase the viability of using renewable chemicals in bio-based packaging and plastics for industrial and consumer goods." Virent's press release is available online.
This week, Evonik Industries and LanzaTech announced that they have entered into a three year research agreement under which Evonik will "combin[e] its existing biotechnology platforms with LanzaTech's synthetic biology and gas fermentation expertise for the development of a route to bio-processed precursors for specialty plastics from waste derived synthesis gas. In this route, microorganisms placed in fermenters are used to turn synthesis gas into chemical products." A copy of Evonik's press release is available online.
On November 25, 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a notice inviting applications for nearly $10.5 million in USDA value-added producer grants (VAPG), which help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of biobased value-added products. A copy of the USDA press release on the announcement is available online, and a copy of the Federal Register notice is available online. The funding notice encourages "applications from eligible entities supporting value-added activities related to bio-based products…Bio-based products are defined as commercial or industrial products composed of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural materials or forestry materials, including construction materials, fibers, papers, compost, fertilizer, lubricants, plastics and paint (see online for more information)." Applications are due by February 24, 2014.
EPA has requested a report from the National Academies Committee (the Committee) on options that governments, manufacturers, and retailers can use to compare the safety of various chemicals as they analyze potential substitutes for those chemicals. The report is expected early in 2014. During the initial meeting of the Committee last month, a representative from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that an OECD committee has identified more than 80 methods for selecting safer chemicals. OECD also intends to release a report identifying them early next year.
The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know (PCRRTK) Committee Newsletter for November 2013 is a special issue devoted to Green Chemistry. Topics covered include the Federal Trade Commissions's enforcement of the Green Guides, EPA’s Design for the Environment program, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Reform, and the Green Chemistry Movement, and the role of public disclosure policies in the selection of greener chemistries. The newsletter is available online.
The Society for the Commercial Development of Industrial Biotechnology (SCD-iBIO), an affiliate of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA) and Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG™) strategic partner, held its 2nd International Forum in Philadelphia on November 11, 2013. The focus was "Commercializing Global Green: Markets from the Value Chain Perspective" and the program included symposia on the Automotive, Advanced Biofuels, Cleaning and Personal Care, Packaging, Adhesives, Sealants, and Coatings markets. Marcel Lubben, Vice President of Bio-based Chemicals & Materials of Royal DSM, delivered the keynote speech. In keeping with SCD-iBIO's mission of expanding the understanding of basic principles of commercial development, attendees learned about natural capital and explored the impact of shale gas on the industrial biotechnology industry. SCD-iBIO established a committee on nomenclature and standards in conjunction with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), as well as its own education, planning, and benchmarking committees.
On November 14, 2013, renewable chemical company, Avantium, announced that it has demonstrated that polyethylene furanoate (PEF) can be used to make fibers, and that these PEF fibers from recycled PEF bottles have been processed into 100% biobased T-shirts. In Avantium's press release, the Company's CEO described the significance of this development: "These first PEF T-shirts are yet another important step in the development and commercialization of PEF as a 100% biobased and recyclable material... The production of the first biobased PEF T-shirts produced from recycled bottles, adds apparel and sportswear to the many potential outlets of PEF. With its reduced carbon footprint, and improved performance, PEF is truly the sustainable plastic material of the future." A copy of the press release is available online.
This week, Ford Motor Company and The Coca-Cola Company announced their efforts to use PlantBottle Technology™ from The Coca-Cola Company for the first time beyond PET packaging as part of the interior fabric of a Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid research vehicle. The fabric used for seat cushions and other parts of the car is made from PlantBottle Technology and consists of up to 30 percent plant-based materials. Ford's press release on the development states that it demonstrates "the broad potential of two global consumer icons to leverage renewable materials to help replace petroleum and other fossil fuels used for traditional PET fabric." A copy of the press release is available online.
On November 19, 2013, Nestlé announced that it is joining the Bioplastics Feedstocks Alliance (BFA), along with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and seven consumer firms, to promote the sustainable development of biomass used to make bioplastics. Other members of the BFA include: The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, Ford, H.J. Heinz Company, Nike, P&G, and Unilever. A copy of Nestlé's press release is available online.