By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) will host a workshop on “Transitioning to a Sustainable, Circular Economy for Plastics.” The June 8-9, 2023, workshop will convene stakeholders for a discussion of the current challenges and opportunities in transitioning to a sustainable domestic economy for plastics. According to DOE, it will include experts in recycling technologies and processes; polymer sciences; biobased plastics innovation and manufacturing; and plastics policy, economy, and sustainability. It will feature facilitated panel presentations and discussions on:
- The current landscape of plastics sustainability and circularity;
- Industry metrics in plastics sustainability and circularity;
- Supply chain and technology gaps;
- Decarbonization opportunities and pathways to achieve them; and
- Collaboration across the plastics value chain to accelerate transition to a more sustainable, circular economy.
DOE states that desired workshop outcomes include:
- Direct connections between stakeholders across the value chain to facilitate collaborations to accelerate innovation toward our collective decarbonization and circular economy goals;
- A publicly available, DOE-issued workshop report recording the discussed problems, research ideas, and industry feedback; and
- Input to ensure the DOE Strategy for Plastics Innovation evolves with the rapidly changing landscape to reflect current needs and challenges related to plastics sustainability and circularity.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
According to a January 24, 2023, item published by the U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA), the demand for new bioplastic materials and innovative processing technologies is high, contributing to the European and Italian plastics circular economy policy. According to ITA, European demand for bioplastics (compostable, bio-attributed, and bio-based) grew more than 23 percent annually from 2019 to 2021, increasing from 210,000 to 320,000 tons. ITA states that significant investments for biorefineries and to achieve stakeholders’ other development objectives should lead to production of another 100 kilotons of totally and/or partially renewable polymers by 2030 in Europe. In Italy, in 2021, the biodegradable and compostable plastics industry was made up of 275 companies (five chemical producers, 20 granule producers and distributors, and 250 processors) with 2,895 employees and €1 billion in revenue. ITA states that the volume of bioplastics produced in 2020 increased 13.2 percent, compared to the previous year.
Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) May 18, 2022, webinar “Domestic Chemical Regulation and Achieving Circularity” is now available for on-demand viewing. During this one-hour webinar, Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C, moderated a timely and fascinating review of the state of sustainable chemical regulation in the United States with Kate Sellers, Technical Fellow, ERM; Mathy Stanislaus, Vice Provost, Executive Director, The Environmental Collaboratory, Drexel University; and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry, B&C.
A circular economy requires new thinking about what products we make, from which materials we make them, and where products go at the end of their useful lives. An important but often overlooked aspect of new product development is an understanding of the consequences of the product’s chemical composition and the end-of-life implications of the decisions made at the front end of the process. During the webinar, Ms. Sellers outlined barriers and enablers to the circular economy, including practical challenges like supply chain limitations and industry frameworks; Dr. Engler highlighted how the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulates discarded substances used as feedstocks by others and articles that may contain contaminants that could affect how an article is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under TSCA; and Mr. Stanislaus reviewed policy issues, including waste management hierarchy, circular economy hierarchy, and other mechanisms that incentivize sustainability.
We encourage you to view the webinar, listen to the All Things Chemical® episodes “Trends in Product Sustainability and Circularity — A Conversation with Kate Sellers” and “How Can Battery Production Be Greener? — A Conversation with Mathy Stanislaus,” read ERM’s report Circularity: From Theory to Practice, and subscribe to B&C’s informative blogs and newsletters.
A circular economy requires new thinking about what products we make, from which materials we make them, and where products go at the end of their useful lives. An important but often overlooked aspect of new product development is an understanding of the consequences of the product’s chemical composition and the end-of-life implications of the decisions made at the front end of the process. Working within this framework plays a critical role in building a resilient, dependable, and sustainable system that fosters innovation to develop a circular economy. Register now to join Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Kate Sellers, and Mathy Stanislaus, as B&C presents “Domestic Chemical Regulation and Achieving Circularity.”
- Achieving sustainability and the promise of the circular economy;
- Defining sustainable chemistry under the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act;
- Federal policy and TSCA regulatory shifts intended to support sustainability and circularity;
- Transitioning chemicals from research and development (R&D) platforms into the market; and
- Changes to TSCA and FIFRA that affect chemical innovation.
Lynn L. Bergeson, Managing Partner, B&C, has earned an international reputation for her deep and expansive understanding of how regulatory programs pertain to industrial biotechnology, synthetic biology, and other emerging transformative technologies. She counsels corporations, trade associations, and business consortia on a wide range of issues pertaining to chemical hazard, exposure and risk assessment, risk communication, minimizing legal liability, and evolving regulatory and policy matters.
Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry, B&C, is a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is one of the most widely recognized experts in the field of green chemistry, having served as senior staff scientist in EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) and leader of EPA’s Green Chemistry Program. His expansive understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities that TSCA presents for green and sustainable chemistry is a powerful asset for clients as they develop and commercialize novel chemistries.
Kate Sellers, Technical Fellow at ERM, leads a multi-disciplinary team of professionals dedicated to helping companies recognize the business value of product stewardship. Over the past year, Kate has seen an uptick in several product sustainability trends, including implementation of the TSCA life-cycle assessment, circular economy programs, and sustainability initiatives. In addition to her consulting work, Kate teaches “Product Stewardship and Chemical Sustainability” at Harvard University
Mathy Stanislaus was recently appointed as Vice Provost and Executive Director of Drexel University’s Environmental Collaboratory, bringing interdisciplinary expertise in environmental sciences, engineering, law, health, business, economics, policy, and humanities to co-design transformative environmental solutions. Stanislaus joined Drexel from the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), a multi-stakeholder initiative established at the World Economic Forum (WEF), where he served as its first interim director and policy director with a focus on establishing a global transparent data authentication system to scale up electric mobility and clean energy. He also led the establishment of the Platform for Accelerating Circular Economy at WEF. Mathy served for eight years as the Senate-confirmed Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Land & Emergency Management for the Obama Administration, leading programs to revitalize communities through the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated sites, hazardous and solid waste materials management, chemical plant safety, and oil spill prevention and emergency response. During this Administration, he led the establishment of the G7 Alliance for Resource Efficiency that focused on the opportunities in the supply chain to drive circularity and de-carbonization.