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.

Photosynthesis-inspired process makes commodity chemicals

Read the full story from Northwestern University.

Northwestern University chemists have taken inspiration from plants to revolutionize the way an important industrial chemical is made.

In a first for the field, the Northwestern team used light and water to convert acetylene into ethylene, a widely used, highly valuable chemical that is a key ingredient in plastics.

While this conversion typically requires high temperatures and pressures, flammable hydrogen and expensive metals to drive the reaction, Northwestern’s photosynthesis-like process is much less expensive and less energy intensive. Not only is the new process environmentally friendly, it also works incredibly well — successfully converting nearly 100% of acetylene into ethylene. 

Liquid platinum at room temperature

Read the full story from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science.

Researchers in Australia have been able to use trace amounts of liquid platinum to create cheap and highly efficient chemical reactions at low temperatures, opening a pathway to dramatic emissions reductions in crucial industries.

When combined with liquid gallium, the amounts of platinum required are small enough to significantly extend the earth’s reserves of this valuable metal, while potentially offering more sustainable solutions for CO2 reduction, ammonia synthesis in fertiliser production, and green fuel cell creation, together with many other possible applications in chemical industries. 

These findings, which focus on platinum, are just a drop in the liquid metal ocean when it comes to the potential of these catalysis systems. By expanding on this method, there could be more than 1,000 possible combinations of elements for over 1,000 different reactions.

The results appear in the journal Nature Chemistry.

LanzaTech, with support of Danone, discovers breakthrough method to produce PET from captured carbon

Read the full story at Sustainable Brands.

A consortium including LanzaTech and Danone has discovered a new route to manufacturing monoethylene glycol (MEG) — a key building block for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin, fibers and bottles — from captured carbon emissions. The technology converts carbon emissions from steel mills or gasified waste biomass directly into MEG.

LanzaTech’s carbon-capture technology uses a proprietary, engineered bacterium to convert the CO2 directly into MEG through fermentation, bypassing the need for an ethanol intermediate, and simplifying the MEG supply chain. The direct production of MEG has been proven at laboratory scale and the presence of MEG was confirmed by two external laboratories.

EPA announces winners of the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of hazardous substances. This year’s winners have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that provide solutions to significant environmental challenges and spur innovation and economic development. In support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis, EPA added a new award category this year that recognizes technology that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas emissions.

“Tackling environmental challenges like climate change and the disproportionate impact of pollution in communities with environmental justice concerns is going to take creative and innovation solutions – and sustainable, green chemistry is a critical part of that,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Deputy Assistant Administrator Jennie Romer. “Preventing waste, reducing energy use, and avoiding hazardous chemicals, all of which we’re recognizing with our awards today, demonstrate the power and potential green chemistry has to protect human health and the environment while providing benefits to businesses and our economy.”

The 2022 winners are:

  • Professor Song Lin of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, for developing a new, more efficient process to create large and complicated molecules that are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. The new technology avoids using hazardous materials and has the potential to reduce both energy use and wasteful byproducts.
  • Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for developing a greener way to make LAGEVRIO™ (molnupiravir), an antiviral treatment for COVID-19. Merck significantly improved the manufacturing process for this antiviral drug in a short time, producing ingredients more efficiently and greatly reducing solvent waste and energy use.
  • Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California, for an improved manufacturing process for LUMAKRAS™ (sotorasib), a novel drug for the treatment of certain non-small cell lung cancers. Amgen’s innovation decreased manufacturing time, the amount of solvent waste generated and established a recycling process for a high-value waste stream.
  • Provivi, Santa Monica, California, for creating ProviviFAW®, a biological pheromone-based product that controls the fall armyworm, a destructive pest of corn. The product’s pheromone active ingredients are produced through innovative green chemistry using renewable plant oils. ProviviFAW™ can reduce the need for conventional pesticides, which can be harmful to beneficial insects, such as pollinators.
  • Professor Mark Mascal of the University of California, Davis, California, in partnership with Origin Materials, for a technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by producing chemicals for making polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic from biomass derived from sugar fructose rather than petroleum. This novel chemistry could have significant climate impacts by replacing fossil-based products with carbon-neutral, biobased products, especially when the technology is scaled to an entire industry.

EPA recognized the winners today during the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. Since 1996, EPA and the American Chemical Society, which co-sponsor the awards, have received more than 1,800 nominations and presented awards to 133 technologies that decrease hazardous chemicals and resources, reduce costs, protect public health, and spur economic growth. Winning technologies are responsible for reducing the use or generation of nearly one billion pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving over 20 billion gallons of water and eliminating nearly eight billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to the air.

An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2022 submissions and made recommendations to EPA for the 2022 winners.

More information: https://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry

EPA issues first test order under National Testing Strategy for PFAS in commercial fire fighting foam and other uses

Today, as a part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap, the agency issued the first in a series of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) test orders to require companies to conduct and submit testing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). When EPA announced its Strategic Roadmap to confront PFAS contamination nationwide, the agency also released the National PFAS Testing Strategy to help identify PFAS data needs and require testing to fill those gaps.

“For far too long, families across America, especially those in underserved communities, have suffered from PFAS. High-quality, robust data on PFAS helps EPA to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by these chemicals,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Our communities deserve transparency from the companies that use or produce these substances about their potential environmental and human health impacts.”

EPA selected 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine (CASRN 34455-29-3) as the first order issued pursuant to the National PFAS Testing Strategy. 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine has been manufactured (defined to include importing) in significant quantities (more than 25,000 pounds in a given year) according to TSCA Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule reports. This chemical substance is a surfactant used to make commercial fire-fighting foams and may be found in certain floor finishes. CDR data also indicate that at least 500 workers in a given year could be potentially exposed to this chemical. Although there is some hazard and exposure information about this PFAS, EPA found there is insufficient data to determine the effects on human health associated with the inhalation route of exposure. This test order will address this data need.

The Chemours Company, DuPont De Nemours Inc., National Foam Inc., and Johnson Controls Inc. are the recipients of this first test order. The companies subject to the test order may conduct the tests as described in the order, including testing of physical-chemical properties and health effects following inhalation, or provide EPA with existing information that they believe EPA did not identify in its search for existing information. EPA encourages companies to jointly conduct testing to avoid unnecessary duplication of tests. The order employs a tiered testing process, as TSCA requires. The results of all the first-tier testing are required to be submitted to EPA within 400 days of the effective date of the order and will inform the decision as to whether additional tests are necessary. The orders and any data submitted in response to these orders that are not subject to a valid confidentiality claim will be made publicly available on EPA’s website and in applicable dockets on www.regulations.govEXITEXIT EPA WEBSITE.

PFAS National Testing Strategy

In the PFAS National Testing Strategy, EPA assigned 6,504 PFAS into smaller categories based on similarities in structure, physical-chemical properties, and existing toxicity data. Of these categories, EPA identified 24 that lack toxicity data to inform EPA’s understanding of the potential human health effects and contain PFAS with at least one identifiable manufacturer to whom EPA could issue a test order. As EPA continues to further develop the National PFAS Testing Strategy and following the review of some stakeholder feedback, the agency also plans to increase the weight it places on the potential for exposures when identifying the representative PFAS for each category.

Based on EPA’s experience to date in developing tiered testing strategies for PFAS, it will also be important to have a better, upfront understanding of physical-chemical properties for the wide variety of PFAS included in the National PFAS Testing Strategy. The information from these initial orders will provide the agency with critical information on more than 2,000 similar PFAS that fall within these categories. This information will allow the agency to make better-informed decisions about PFAS as well as guide any future orders. The agency plans to issue the additional Phase I orders in the coming months.

Based on available information and predictive models, testing on 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine will also inform the agency’s understanding of the human health effects of 503 additional PFAS with similar structures as detailed in the Testing Strategy.

Section 4 Test Orders

Developing section 4 test orders is a complex and resource-intensive process involving many scientific and regulatory considerations, as explained in this Overview of Activities Involved in Issuing a TSCA Section 4 Order. With this test order, EPA is for the first time describing the process future PFAS test orders will follow to obtain data on human health effects pursuant to a “may present an unreasonable risk” finding under TSCA section 4(a)(1). This testing comprehensively yet efficiently investigates human health endpoints, applying testing methodologies appropriate for the physical-chemical properties of the subject PFAS. Given the complexity of the testing requirements, a broad spectrum of experts across many offices in the agency worked to determine testing methodology and needs and address other details that go into the process of drafting and issuing an order (e.g., assessing the economic burden of an order).

Additionally, one order often applies to multiple companies. EPA must identify these companies and their associated points of contacts. To improve the transparency of the process, EPA also tries to resolve confidential business information claims that could prevent EPA from publicly connecting the company to the chemical substance prior to issuing test orders.

This startup is cleaning up the synthetic chemicals in industrial cleaning products

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Sudoc—a winner of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards—harnesses the science of biomimicry to create safer and more sustainable options for the dirtiest tasks.

Switching to sustainable surfactants

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

As the cosmetic and personal care industry races to drop petroleum-based ingredients, chemical companies are rolling out a dizzying array of biobased surfactants. Choosing from among them isn’t easy.

How one chemical maker is reducing its environmental footprint

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Long before the Maroon Group had gotten acquired in December 2020, it had been on the cutting edge of environmental and energy management programs — ones that received recognition from Ohio’s EPA. Now that Maroon has been bought out, it has been rebranded as Barentz, which is based in the Netherlands. The parent company has the same commitment to sustainability.