The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of over $27 million in funding for 12 projects supporting research and development (R&D) efforts toward advanced plastics recycling technologies and new recyclable plastics. These efforts are part of DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, which aims to improve existing recycling processes that break plastics down into chemical building blocks that can be used to make new products. The 12 projects selected will address highly recyclable or biodegradable plastics, novel methods for deconstructing and upcycling existing plastics, and collaborations to tackle challenges in plastic waste.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On August 17, 2020, DOE’s Reducing EMbodied-Energy and Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) Manufacturing Institute announced the availability of approximately $35 million in support of research and development (R&D) that will enable U.S. manufacturers to increase the recovery, recycling, reuse, and remanufacturing of plastics, metals, electronic waste, and fibers. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is part of DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, a comprehensive program to accelerate innovations in energy-efficient plastics recycling technologies by supporting high-impact R&D for plastics.

DOE issued a request for proposal (RFP) under this FOA for projects in two areas: transformational R&D and traditional R&D. The full RFP can be accessed here. Letters of intent and project abstracts are due September 14, 2020.

The Deputy Secretary of Energy, Mark W. Menezes, commented on the FOA, stating: “The Trump Administration is committed to advancing innovative reuse and remanufacturing technologies, including advanced plastic recycling technologies, and the development of new plastics that are recyclable by design. Through the Plastics Innovation Challenge, and in partnership with REMADE, DOE is proud to take part in the development of new technologies that strengthen the U.S. manufacturing ecosystem.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 16, 2020, DOE EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office and Bioenergy Technologies Office used a joint funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of up to $25 million for plastics recycling R&D. As part of the Department’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, this FOA has been titled “BOTTLE: Bio-Optimized Technologies to Keep Thermoplastics Out of Landfills and the Environment.” The BOTTLE FOA will support the development of new plastics capable of efficient recyclability and improvement of recycling strategies that can break existing plastics into chemical building blocks that can be used in other products.

Also as part of the Plastics Innovation Challenge, DOE has launched a new BOTTLE Consortium, which will be led by three of DOE’s national laboratories. The Consortium will work with stakeholders in industry and academia to focus on BOTTLE’s core mission. The three national laboratories in the Consortium currently are the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

This BOTTLE FOA includes three topic areas:

  • Highly recyclable or biodegradable plastics;
     
  • Novel methods for deconstructing and upcycling existing plastics; and
     
  • BOTTLE Consortium collaborations to tackle challenges in plastic waste.

Concept papers for the BOTTLE FOA are due on April 22, 2020, and full applications are due on June 18, 2020. Information on how to submit concept papers and applications can be found here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On February 19, 2020, the University of Oulu, Finland, announced that scientists from its Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry have developed a new synthetic bioplastic that provides protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In addition to its UV-light blocking capacity, the transparent bioplastic made from a biomass-based copolymer with bisfuran structure, the new bioplastic also has airtightness capabilities three to four times higher than polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. The raw materials used in the production of this entirely biomass-based plastic are hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural, which are biorefinery products derived from cellulose and hemicellulose. University of Oulu researchers chemically linked the two chemicals to create copolymer parts with bisfuran and furan-like structures. The research results have been published, and a patent application for the bioplastic has been filed for the new method developed.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) published a notice of intent to issue a joint Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) with the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), titled “BOTTLE: Bio-Optimized Technologies to Keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment.” This FOA supports the Department’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, a comprehensive program to accelerate innovations in energy-efficient plastics recycling technologies by supporting high-impact research and development for plastics. The primary goal of the FOA is to develop new bio-based plastics that are capable of efficient recyclability and developing improved recycling strategies that can break down existing plastics into chemical building blocks that can be used to make higher value products.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

From December 11 through 12, 2019, DOE’s Office of Bioenergy Technologies Office will host a workshop titled “Plastics for a Circular Economy” in Denver, Colorado. The workshop will include discussions on technology solutions to address plastic waste and focus on the development of new recycling and degradation strategies. The objective of the workshop will be to identify early-stage applied research problems in the aforementioned area that need to be addressed both in the long- and near-term. Representatives from waste management facilities, circular economy experts, commercial plastic producers, and biobased plastic innovators will be some of the participants.


 

 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 22, 2019, the United Kingdom (U.K.) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced an open consultation for the development of standards for biodegradable, compostable, and biobased plastics. The consultation welcomes views from any interested parties to identify gaps and provide expert advice on:

  • The overall sustainability of biobased and biodegradable plastic products in comparison with other materials;
     
  • Existing relevant plastic degradation standards and how they are promoted without adverse environmental effects; and
     
  • The design and implementation of standards for biodegradable plastics to ensure they are fully biodegradable in a reasonable timeframe.

With a focus on obtaining robust evidence backed by scientific theory, direct practical experience, or analysis, rather than opinion, views from environmental scientists, bioscience or biotechnology practitioners, standards authorities, manufacturers, waste processors, consumers, producers, and certification authority experts are welcome. Consultation responses must be submitted by October 14, 2019. For further details, the call for evidence can be accessed here.


 

 
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