Dow unveils big plastics recycling initiative

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Dow has unveiled a series of partnerships in plastics recycling intended to bring it two-thirds of the way to its goal of collecting, reusing, or recycling 1 million metric tons (t) per year of plastics waste by 2030. The news came as Dow reported a second-quarter sales increase of 13% compared to the year prior, mostly due to rising prices.

The biggest of the collaborations is with the British firm Mura Technology. The companies aim to construct a series of plants—each with 120,000 t of annual capacity—in the US and Europe, for a total of 600,000 t of output by 2030.

Mura uses supercritical steam to chemically break down difficult-to-recycle plastics like flexible polyethylene packaging into products such as naphtha that can by loaded into petrochemical plants for processing back into virgin plastics. Most other processes being promoted by recycling firms use pyrolysis to break down waste plastics. Mura’s first plant using the technology, with 20,000 t per year of capacity, will start up in Teesside, England, in 2023.

Mura may build the new plants at Dow facilities. Dow will buy the output to make so-called postconsumer resins (PCRs).

Mechanochemists want to shake up industrial chemistry

Read the full story at Chemical & Engineering News.

Using mechanical force to drive reactions offers greener routes to molecules, but chemists need to demonstrate that mechanochemistry can work on industrial scales

Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals policy papers

The Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals is a roadmap to transform chemical industry. It consists of a preamble vision statement and ten platform planks that lay out the principles that must guide this transition. These policy papers provide more background on each Charter plank and provide specific policy directions and recommendations to put them into practice.

The following papers are currently available:

Pioneering recycling turns mixed waste into premium plastics with no climate impact

Read the full story at TechXplore.

Only a fraction of the material that could be turned into new plastic is currently recycled. Researchers at Chalmers have now demonstrated how the carbon atoms in mixed waste can replace all fossil raw materials in the production of new plastic. The recycling method is inspired by the natural carbon cycle and could eliminate the climate impact of plastic materials, or even clean the air of carbon dioxide.

NOVA Chemicals plans chemical recycling pilot

Read the full story at Plastics Recycling Update.

NOVA Chemicals is planning a pilot-scale reactor for plastics pyrolysis in 2022, the latest recycling-related move from the resin manufacturer.

In its 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance report, NOVA also reported that it recycled more than 99% of its industrial scrap PE, about 7,000 tons, and diverted another roughly 1,200 tons of PE from landfill, sending lumps and strands created during production changeovers to a plastics company for processing. 

NOVA, in partnership with Enerkem, now plans to begin construction of a pilot-scale reactor. Intended to address hard-to-recycle plastics, the reactor will use pyrolysis to convert discarded plastic to feedstocks for new plastic production. 

We need to simplify the chemistry industry to make it sustainable

Read the full story at TechXplore.

Like many industries, the chemical industry needs to become more sustainable and, among other things, reduce its carbon footprint. But the situation is particularly complicated in the chemical industry, because in addition to its carbon or climate footprint, its toxicity footprint is also significant. This represents the toxic effects of chemicals released from chemical production processes and from chemical products. Examples of such substances are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its alternative product, GenX, which are used in the production of fluoropolymers such as Teflon, as well as plasticizers and UV absorbers for plastics, flame retardants, or UV filters in sun creams.

So far, the toxicity footprint hasn’t stood at the center of the sustainability debate. Over recent decades, it has even increased. Moreover, the carbon footprint and the toxicity footprint have only a limited connection with each other. If in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint the chemical industry uses fewer fossil raw materials and makes production processes more energy efficient, this does not necessarily lead to a reduction in the toxicity problem.

But how can these two footprints still be reduced together? One way is to reduce the amount and number of chemical products on the market.

U.S. Department of Energy will fund applied research and development to accelerate decarbonization of American industry

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) recently announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will support DOE’s efforts to decarbonize the American industrial sector and move the U.S. toward net-zero carbon emissions.  

The industrial sector currently accounts for one third of domestic, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. DOE’s new FOA will support the advancement of a range of decarbonization technologies that can shrink the carbon footprint of America’s vital industries.  

Decarbonizing industry presents a difficult challenge, given the wide range of energy inputs and complexity of industrial processes. It will require the U.S. to pursue multiple strategies in parallel. DOE has identified four key pathways to industrial decarbonization: energy efficiency; industrial electrification; low carbon fuels, feedstocks, and energy sources; and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. 

The “Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization FOA” is expected to include the following topics, applying the four industrial decarbonization pathways to energy-intensive American industries where decarbonization technologies could have the greatest impact:  

  • Decarbonizing Chemicals: This topic will focus on unit operations, including advanced separations and advanced reactors, and alternative production and process heating technologies to reduce carbon impacts from the production of high-volume chemicals.
  • Decarbonizing Iron and Steel: This topic will focus on advancements that enable decarbonization in ore-based or scrap-based iron and steelmaking operations, and that convert other existing iron and steelmaking ancillary and thermal processes to use clean fuels or electricity.
  • Decarbonizing Food and Beverage Products: This topic will focus on innovative technologies that decarbonize process heating operations within the food and beverage sector.
  • Decarbonizing Cement and Concrete: This topic will focus on next generation cement formulations and process routes, utilization of low carbon fuels, and carbon capture technologies.
  • Decarbonizing Paper and Forest Products: This topic will focus on novel paper and wood drying technologies, and innovative pulping and paper forming technologies.
  • Cross-sector Decarbonization Technologies: This topic will focus on innovations in low temperature waste heat to power, thermal energy storage, and industrial heat pump technologies. 

DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office plans to issue the FOA via EERE Exchange in August 2022. EERE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately 24-36 months.

For more information about this NOI, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Office website.

EPA seeks small businesses’ input on development of proposed TSCA Data Reporting Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting small businesses to participate as Small Entity Representatives (SERs) for a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel. This Panel will focus on EPA’s development of a proposed rule to collect data to inform each step of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) risk evaluation and risk management process.

The proposed rule would establish a framework of reporting requirements based on a chemical’s status in the TSCA Section 6 Risk Evaluation/Risk Management Lifecycle. Additionally, this new data reporting rule would enhance the exposure-related data collected through the TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) process. EPA is interested in ensuring its data collection strategies provide information to better meet the agency’s basic chemical data needs, such as information related to exposure, health and eco-toxicity. Collecting data geared specifically towards prioritization, risk evaluation, and risk management would help ensure the agency has relevant and timely data to inform each step of the process for reviewing potential risks from existing chemicals.

The data reporting rule, including changes to CDR, is tiered to specific stages of the TSCA Section 6 existing chemicals program: 

  • Identifying a pre-prioritization pool of substances as potential candidates for prioritization; 
  • Selecting candidate chemicals and completing the prioritization process; and 
  • Assessing high-priority substances through a robust risk evaluation, which may be followed by risk management actions (depending on the outcome of the risk evaluation). 

Tying specific reporting requirements to the activities that make use of reported data will also reduce the burden related to data collection efforts while ensuring that EPA has the information it needs to fulfill its risk evaluation and risk management responsibilities.

The proposed rule is intended to create a framework to obtain information about potential hazards and exposure pathways related to certain chemicals, particularly occupational, environmental, and consumer exposure information. EPA’s ability to collect data under this proposed rule would derive from authorities in TSCA sections 8(a) and 8(d), which give EPA authority to require:

  • Manufacturers and processors to provide known or reasonably ascertainable information, including chemical identity, production volumes, uses, byproducts, and worker exposure; and
  • Manufacturers, processors and distributors to submit health and safety information.

The potentially regulated community consists of entities that manufacture, import or process chemical substances, potentially including when the chemical substance is manufactured as a byproduct or is part of a formulated product or article (including import and processing). Most respondents anticipated to be affected by this collection activity are from the manufacturing sectors, including chemical manufacturing; petroleum and coal product manufacturing; chemical, petroleum and merchant wholesalers; paper, plastics, paint and printing ink manufacturing; electronic product and component manufacturing; or other activities, including utilities and construction. Learn more about potentially regulated entities.

The Panel, convened under the authority of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, will include federal representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and EPA. The Panel members ask a selected group of SERs to provide advice and recommendations on behalf of their company, government, or organization to inform the Panel members about the potential impacts of the proposed rule on small entities.

EPA seeks self-nominations directly from the small entities that may be subject to the rule requirements. Other representatives, such as trade associations that exclusively or at least primarily represent potentially regulated small entities, may also serve as SERs.

Self-nominations may be submitted through the link below and must be received by July 20, 2022.

Nominate yourself as a SER

Will your plastic be part of a safe and sustainable economy? You’ll need to pay attention to the additives.

Read the full story at Chem Forward.

As companies work to transition to a more sustainable, circular plastic economy, toxic additives are a barrier as their presence in waste is not labeled. They risk being recycled into new products, where they could pose significant threats to human health and the environment. Overcoming this challenge is  a critical part of achieving circularity in plastics, which is itself key to tackling multiple problems presented by plastic products and waste. Making plastic packaging less toxic to people coincides with making it less polluting to the natural world. Let us explain  how.

Developing a degradation-triggerable plastic made of vanillin

Read the full story at Phys.org.

From inexpensive mass products to tailored high-tech materials, our modern world without plastics is unimaginable. The major downside to this is the use of fossil fuels and the growing quantities of waste. A new approach could be the production of high-grade plastics made from biomass that could be made to fall apart into recyclable components. The “destruct command” would be given with light of a specific wavelength, as demonstrated by researchers in the journal Angewandte Chemie.