By Lynn L. Bergeson
On April 29, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) announced a virtual meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Chemical Safety for Sustainability and Health and Environmental Risk Assessment (CSS-HERA) Subcommittee. The purpose of the meeting will be to review the draft 2019-2022 Strategic Research Action Plan (StRAP) of the HERA research program. The videoconference meeting will be held over a period of two days on May 12, 2020, from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT), and May 13, 2020, from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (EDT). The meeting is open to the public. Those interested in participating must register by May 8, 2020.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
This month, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®) member, published its 2019 Sustainability Report titled The Future Is Clean. In its 2019 report, ACI outlines its sustainability goals, which include increased transparency, the reduction of GHG emissions, and the move toward a circular global economy. As part of its activities to achieve such goals, ACI has worked on filling knowledge gaps, harnessing power in the power of convening, uniting for a cleaner world, and further developing its sustainability organizations. In its report, ACI also highlights its support for the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how its future goals can positively contribute to the SDGs.
Managed by B&C® Consortia Management (BCCM), BRAG is a consortium of international and well-respected member organizations and companies engaged in the development of biobased or renewable chemical products. BRAG members recognize the importance of advocacy, education, and communication. For further information, see the BRAG webpage on membership.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On December 1, 2017, Neste, a member of BRAG, announced that its Ham Trick (Kinkkutemppu in Finnish) campaign was awarded two prestigious marketing and communications competitions. The Ham Trick, which is a campaign in which Neste collects and recycles ham waste fat from 100,000 households throughout Finland for manufacturing renewable diesel, won gold at the 2017 European Excellence Awards (EEA) and bronze in the PR category at the Eurobest awards. According to Kaisa Lipponen, Director of Corporate Communications at Neste, ”[t]he prizes are an excellent form of recognition and proof that the campaigns really interest people.” All proceeds from the campaign are donated to charity.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On October 24, 2017, Neste, a member of the Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG®), announced that it was the only energy company to reach the Leadership-class ranking in three Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) programs. Neste received an A- ranking in the CDP Climate, CDP Forests, and CDP Water programs. CDP is a not-for-profit organization that manages a global disclosure system allowing companies, cities, states, and regions to measure and manage their environmental impact. The CDP Climate program focuses on corporate measures to combat climate risks and take advantage of low-carbon products and services. According to Pekka Tuovinen, Neste's Senior Advisor for sustainability, “[t]he more efficiently we operate, and the more we can reduce the climate emissions of our own supply chains, the greater will be the climate benefits of the products and solutions we offer.”
Neste is the only energy sector company to transparently disclose its forest footprint as part of the CDP program. The Leadership-class ranking demonstrates Neste’s commitment to preventing deforestation in its supply chain and requiring similar action from its raw material suppliers. Neste continues to work on improving the traceability of various kinds of processing residues used as raw materials beyond what is mandated by regulatory requirements.
For the first time, Neste participated in the CDP Water program, which requires companies to disclose the measures they implement for responsible water use and water risk management. According to Mr. Tuovinen, Neste has been carrying out water footprint calculations for its refineries and products since the 1990s.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
On July 14, 2017, the Royal Academy of Engineering (Academy) published a report on the sustainability pros and cons of biofuels, which was commissioned by the Department of Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The report aims to provide advice on the future strategy for the development of biofuels in the United Kingdom (UK). In its statement announcing the report, the Academy stated that biofuels, particularly second generation biofuels from waste and byproducts, have a role to play in meeting the UK commitment to climate change mitigation. While such biofuels have the potential to be sustainable and make a real impact, the Academy warned that action is needed to manage risks, improve traceability, and avoid fraudulent practice.
The report calls on government to incentivize the development of second generation biofuels in the UK, specifically those derived from wastes and agricultural, forest, and sawmill residues, and to incentivize the use of marginal land, such as land unsuitable for food production or housing, for the production of biofuels. The Academy also recommended that the government properly regulate the biofuels sector with clear and consistent categorization of wastes and residues to help avoid unintended market distortions within the UK and internationally, and that other sustainability issues, such as competitiveness of biofuels with fossil fuels; food, energy and water security; employment provision; rural development; and human health impacts, be evaluated.
On September 25, 2015, EPA published Recommendations for Specifications, Environmental Performance Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Procurement. The notice describes EPA's recommendations for federal agencies that are purchasing environmentally-friendly products. Section 3(i) of Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, directs federal agencies to adhere to certain environmental performance and sustainability standards when practicable. The new EPA recommendations list acceptable environmentally sustainable product brands and service providers that require a procurement preference, including EPA's voluntary program Energy Star®, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Certified Biobased label BioPreferred®, and EPA designated recycled content products, among others.
Resources Institute (WRI) issued a working paper, "Avoiding
Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land," as part of its
series on "Creating
a Sustainable Food Future." The paper concludes that using
land for bioenergy purposes results in that land not being available for
growing food or animal feed, and, as such, urges policy changes that would
phase-out bioenergy and biofuel from crops. According
to a New York Times article, the WRI report urges governments to
reconsider their reliance on biofuels. The Renewable
Fuels Association issued a press
release in response to the WRI report, stating that the report
makes hypothetical predictions but fails to substantiate its claims on
competition with food crops and land.