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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now accepting nominations for the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards from companies or institutions that have developed a new green chemistry process or product that helps protect human health and the environment. EPA states that in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis, it is adding a new award category to recognize technology that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions. EPA will hold a webinar during Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. (EDT), to educate stakeholders on the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards and the nomination process. Nominations are due to EPA by December 10, 2021. According to EPA, an independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute will formally judge the 2022 nominations and make recommendations to EPA for the 2022 winners. EPA anticipates giving awards to outstanding green chemistry technologies in six categories in June 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 
On June 24, 2021, a “unique and broad group” of chemical manufacturers, brand owners, environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO), states, and municipalities sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to express their “strong support” for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice Program and to encourage that the program be funded fully. The letter asks that the following language be included in the report:

The Committee supports the Safer Choice program and directs that the program be funded and operated at least at levels consistent with Fiscal Year 2014, adjusted for inflation.

According to the letter, in the last quarter of 2020, EPA reorganized the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), dissolving the Safer Choice branch and reassigning most staff to the areas of OCSPP. The letter states that “[a]s a result, the program is now severely under-resourced with approximately four full-time staff.” The Biden-Harris EPA has taken steps to restore the program, but EPA still faces resource constraints.

The letter describes how companies across the value chain use the Safer Choice brand to advance their individual safer chemical initiatives. Chemical manufacturers invested in developing safer chemicals now listed on the Safer Choice’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients List (SCIL). Brand owners and product manufacturers have reformulated products using the SCIL to obtain Safer Choice certification. Major retailers specify the Safer Choice label as a verifiable way to meet corporate goals laid out in public-facing chemicals policies.

According to the letter, the Safer Choice Program also provides value to entities outside of the supply chain. States and municipalities rely on the Safer Choice Program “because it is the only third-party program that requires all ingredients to be screened for hazards instead of simply using a restricted substances list.” NGOs and consumers “find significant value in an authoritative government program that can be trusted to vet safer chemicals and products.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced and recognized the winners of the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. According to EPA’s announcement, this year’s winners have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that provide solutions to significant environmental challenges and spur innovation. The announcement was made during the American Chemical Society (ACS) Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Co-sponsored by EPA and ACS, the Green Chemistry Challenge Awards celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Further details are available here.


 

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

On May 18, 2021, the European Parliament (EP) issued a press release announcing the Just Transition Fund (JTF) to assist European Union (EU) countries to address climate neutrality goals. The Just Transition Fund is composed of €7.5 billion from the European Commission’s (EC) long-term EU budget under the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and €10 billion from the EU recovery plan, NextGenerationEU. According to the press release, eligible projects must focus on economic diversification, reconversion, or job creation, or they must contribute to the transition into a sustainable and circular European economy. JTF will finance:

  • Job seeking assistance, upskilling, and reskilling to help workers as Europe shifts to a climate-neutral economy;
  • Micro-enterprises;
  • Business incubators;
  • Universities;
  • Public research institutions; and
  • Investments in new energy technologies, energy efficiency, and sustainable local mobility.

A “Green Rewarding Mechanism” could be introduced to the JTF for distribution of additional funding to member states if the EP decides to increase the fund’s resources after December 31, 2024. The goal is for the €7.5 billion JTF funds to generate between €30 and €50 billion from investments. Member states that succeed in reducing industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will receive additional funding.
 
Access to JTF for member states is conditional upon adoption of national-level commitments to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Before adoption of such commitments, member states will be entitled to only 50 percent of their national allocations. The portion of the investments provided by EC is set at a maximum of 85 percent for less developed regions, 70 percent for transitional regions, and 50 percent for more developed regions.
 
JTF is part of the European Green Deal Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) initiative, which provides targeted support to regions and sectors in the EU that are most affected by the transition into a green economy. JTM aims to help EU member countries by also:

  • Supporting the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient activities;
  • Creating new jobs in the green economy;
  • Investing in public and sustainable transport;
  • Providing technical assistance;
  • Investing in renewable energy sources;
  • Improving digital connectivity;
  • Providing affordable loans to local public authorities; and
  • Improving energy infrastructure, district heating, and transportation networks.

In support of JTM, Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of EC stated that “[w]e must show solidarity with the most affected regions in Europe, such as the coal mining regions and others, to make sure the [European] Green Deal gets everyone’s full support and has a chance to become a reality.”


 

The American Chemical Society (ACS) presents the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, with sessions spanning the breadth and depth of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering. This year's conference theme is Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy and Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) will present “Getting to market: Planning for regulatory approval” during the Green and Sustainable Chemistry in Manufacturing for More Sustainable Household and Personal Care Products session.


 

From June 14 through 18, 2021, the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute (ACS GCI) will host its annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Fully virtual this year, the conference will include live sessions and poster presentations focused on green and sustainable chemistry and engineering under the 2021 theme of Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy. Registration is now open via this link.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On August 17, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is accepting nominations for the 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. EPA intends these awards to recognize innovation by American businesses and researchers that redesign chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and manufacture of hazardous substances. The 2021 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards nomination package is now available, and nominations are due December 4, 2020. EPA states that it anticipates giving awards to “outstanding green chemistry technologies” in five categories in June 2021. EPA will host a webinar on September 23, 2020, for those interested in applying. During the webinar, EPA will provide an overview of the requirements, criteria, and tips for submitting a nomination package.


 

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

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced its 2021 call for nominations for the ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering (SC&E) Lectureship Awards. The awards will recognize the contributions of early career investigators from around the world who are doing exceptional research impacting sustainability, green chemistry, or green engineering. One award recipient will be chosen from three regions: the Americas, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Asia/Pacific. Awardees will not only receive an award plaque but also an honorarium of $1,000 and travel and accommodation funding of up to $1,500 to attend and present at the 2021 Green Chemistry and Engineering (GC&E) Conference in Reston, VA, from June 14 through 16, 2021. Eligible nominees include:

  • Faculty members within ten years or less of their initial academic appointment;
  • Industrial and other non-academic scientists within ten years or less from their last professional training (terminal degree or postdoc); and
  • Individuals who have taken formal family leave which affects their eligibility under the ten-year timeline described above.

Self-nominations are allowed. The deadline for nominations is August 31, 2020. Selected winners will be announced in the fall of 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
 

On June 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards.  EPA states that this year’s winners “have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that turn potential environmental challenges into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.”  The 2020 winners and their innovative technologies are:

  • Genomatica, San Diego, California, for creating Brontide™, a new brand of 1,3-butylene glycol, commonly used in cosmetics for moisture retention and as a carrier for plant extracts.  Butylene glycol is traditionally produced from fossil fuels.  Brontide™ is produced by fermenting E. coli using renewable sugars in a one-step production process, however.  This method reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids the use of hazardous chemicals in the production process.
     
  • Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for improving the process used to produce certain antiviral drugs used for the treatment of diseases including hepatitis C and HIV.  According to EPA, the new process improved manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of one important antiviral by more than 85 percent.  This method reduces waste and hazards associated with the existing process and results in substantial cost savings.
  • Johns Manville, Littleton, Colorado, for developing a biobased, formaldehyde-free thermoset binder for fiberglass reinforcement applications.  Thermoset binders are used to bind glass fibers of fiberglass mats used in carpet tile backing.  EPA states that this technology eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals, reduces water and energy use, and produces a product with a longer shelf life.
     
  • Professor Steven Skerlos, University of Michigan and Fusion Coolant Systems, for creating Pure-Cut™, an alternative to traditional metalworking fluids that uses high-pressure carbon dioxide instead of oil-based lubricants.  According to EPA, Pure-Cut™ can improve performance and machining tool life span compared to traditional metalworking fluids, while greatly reducing hazards to the environment and worker health.
     
  • Vestaron, Kalamazoo, Michigan, for producing a new biopesticide called Spear®.  This pesticide is based on a naturally occurring component inspired by spider venom that can effectively control target pests while showing no adverse effects on people, the environment, and non-target wildlife, such as fish and bees.  EPA notes that Spear® should provide growers with a new pest management tool that also lessens environmental impacts.

EPA plans to recognize the winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year.  EPA and the American Chemical Society co-sponsor the awards.  An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2020 submissions and made recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

EPA published a Federal Register notice on March 23, 2020, announcing that the EPA Safer Choice program is accepting submissions for its 2020 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards. 85 Fed. Reg. 16334. EPA states that it developed the Partner of the Year Awards to recognize the leadership contributions of Safer Choice partners and stakeholders who, over the past year, have shown achievement in the design, manufacture, selection, and use of products with safer chemicals, furthering outstanding or innovative source reduction. All Safer Choice stakeholders and program participants in good standing are eligible for recognition. Interested parties who would like to be considered for this award should submit to EPA information about their accomplishments and contributions during 2019. EPA notes that there is no form associated with this year’s application. EPA will recognize award winners at a Safer Choice Partner of the Year Awards ceremony that is being planned for fall 2020. Submissions are due May 31, 2020.


 
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