THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AND U.N. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 14: LIFE BELOW WATER

THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AND U.N. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 14: LIFE BELOW WATER

For Resinate’s 2019 blog series, we will focus on a particular U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and the chemical industry’s impact. If you are not familiar with the goals, Pyxera Global has an excellent infographic that provides a nice summary.

Our rainwater, climate, weather, drinking water, much of our food, and the oxygen in the air we breathe are all regulated or provided by the world’s oceans. Over three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods – with the global market value of marine and coastal resources and industries estimated at $3 trillion per year.1 Unfortunately, overfishing, ocean acidification, and pollution are having adverse effects on this essential global resource, its ecosystems, and biodiversity.

Ocean acidity has increased by 26% since pre-industrial times and is expected to rapidly increase by 100-150% by 2100.2 This increase endangers marine life and impacts the ability of the ocean to absorb C02 – this is highly important in buffering the impacts of global warming, as oceans currently absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has created a roadmap to identify key impact opportunities for which companies like Eastman have incorporated actions into their goal setting and corporate reporting. With ocean acidification and goal 14 as major reasons, Eastman has committed to a 20% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.3

About 80% of marine pollution originates on land.4 This includes agricultural run-off, sewage, and plastics. Plastics are a key focus for us at Resinate, as you may have seen in one of our many conference presentations, articles, website or Plastics Blog. Plastics have become essential to modern life and are, in many ways, superior to their alternatives. (The British Plastics Federation estimates that alternative materials to plastics would result in 2.7 times more greenhouse gas emissions over their lifetime.5) However, our lack of a circular model for design and use of plastics has resulted in dire consequences for our oceans.  Eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year, the weight of nearly 90 aircraft carriers. Microplastics (tiny pieces of plastic less than 5 mm long, often found as exfoliants in beauty products, or resulting from larger plastic debris being broken down) in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy.6

Many efforts are underway to reduce and avert marine pollution.  Much like Resinate, 3M is also working to find new, higher-value outlets for plastic waste. This month, they announced 3M Thinsulate™ Insulation made with 100% recycled content from plastic bottles.7 Understanding that collaboration between government, NGOs, and corporations is key to achieving the SDGs, Dow has become a leader in this space. They have invested in the World Economic Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership to fast-track circular economy solutions for plastics.  Dow has also invested in Circulate Capital, a $100 million effort to create infrastructure that prevents the flow of plastic waste into our oceans. In addition, they are a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, intend to donate an additional $1 million to Ocean Conservancy over the next two years, and are working with governments and other stakeholders in Southeast Asia, the United States, and Africa to create a circular economy, turning recycled plastic into durable roads.8

With innovation, chemistry will continue to enable more efficient use of our natural resources and play an essential role in creating solutions that reduce pollution of all types – protecting our oceans and all that depend on them.

Dr. Gary Spilman
Research Fellow

1. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/oceans/ – Facts and Figures
2. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Infographic-Life-Below-Water.pdf

3. https://www.eastman.com/Company/Sustainability/Reporting/Environmental/Pages/Greenhouse_Gas.aspx

4. https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/oceans-seas/what-we-do/addressing-land-based-pollution

5. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-42646025

6. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/caribbean-addresses-scourge-plastic-pollution

7. https://news.3m.com/stories/Reinventing-Warmth-With-Recycled-Plastic?utm_term=corp-susta-en_us-ba-susty2019-osm-lin-na-learn-photocard-jul19-na

8. 2018 Dow Sustainability Report

THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AND U.N. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION

THE CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AND U.N. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION

For Resinate’s 2019 blog series, we will focus on a particular U.N. Sustainable Development Goal and the chemical industry’s impact. If you are not familiar with the goals, Pyxera Global has an excellent infographic that provides a nice summary.

Goal 6 has several targets for 2030 – including to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all; to improve water quality by reducing pollution; eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials; to increase water-use efficiency across all sectors; to protect and restore water-related ecosystems; and to improve water and sanitation management.

According to the World Bank, water demand will exceed supply by 40 percent by 2030. In order to fill the gap, more than conservation alone is needed. Advances in technology in the chemical industry will enable not only conservation, but the recycling of wastewater into clean, safe drinking water.

“UNICEF reports that 1.5 million children die each year from a lack of clean water and sanitation.”1 Dow is one company working to make a difference in this area. The company has provided a $30 million-dollar loan guarantee to WaterHealth International. This loan will help finance 2,000 water treatment systems for over 11 million people in rural India and Africa. Dow is also working to make a difference with its technologies, like their plastic resin for lightweight water purification devices. One of these devices can provide water to a household for 10-15 years at only $1 per year, per person. Dow also has reverse osmosis technologies for desalination in areas where fresh water is limited. They are also involved in creating “bricks” that can transport food and water, then be used to build homes, schools, or medical facilities. Dow’s resins allow these bricks to be so lightweight and durable that they can be air-dropped to remote regions when necessary.

Chemistry is essential to safe drinking water and sanitation – from disinfectants that prevent disease, to polymer membrane filters that remove water impurities, to materials for pipes that protect water from its source to the tap, and many more. With continued innovation, chemistry will continue to enable more efficient use of our natural resources and play an essential role in providing safe drinking water to all communities globally.

Rick Tabor
Chief Technology Officer

 1.https://www.icca-chem.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Global-Chemical-Industry-Contributions-to-the-UN-Sustainable-Development-Goals.pdf

The Chemical Industry and UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health & Well-Being

I am happy to launch Resinate’s 2019 blog series, where each month we will focus on a different UN Sustainable Development Goal and the chemical industry’s impact. If you are not familiar with the goals, Pyxera Global has an excellent infographic that provides a nice summary.

The chemical industry is essential to sustainable development, and green chemistry is its path forward. Human health and well-being is a prime example of the impact green chemistry innovations can have.  The EPA gives several human health benefits of green chemistry including cleaner air and water, increased safety for workers in the chemical industry, safer consumer products of all types, and safer food.

Goal 3 includes several targets, with target 3.9 stating, By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.” This target is right in line with several of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry (including design less hazardous chemical syntheses; design safer chemicals and products; use safer solvents and reaction conditions; design products to degrade after used; analyze in real time to prevent pollution, and minimize the potential for accidents.)

Chemical industry leaders like Covestro are already recognizing the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals. Covestro has a goal to align their R&D project portfolio with them- and appears to be well on its way to achieving it. As an example, they have products for the medical industry that are improving human health, like the biocompatible polycarbonate resin, MAKROLON®. The company also works to prevent air, water and soil pollution by partnering along the value chain to create processes to strengthen a circular economy. In 2017, they established a central coordinating office for the circular economy.

Steelcase, a furniture manufacturer, uses a materials chemistry practice to assess materials in their supply chain and understand their potential impacts on human and environmental health. To date, they have assessed over 1,600 materials. This allows them to identify materials of concern, eliminate them, and work with their supply chain to develop sustainable alternatives.

At Resinate, our number one goal is always safety. This is why we have invested to create a strong safety culture that encourages and empowers employees to identify and eliminate hazards before they cause harm. We also consistently seek to use and create safer materials; as well as develop partnerships across the entire value chain that allow us to prevent waste and pollution by creating a circular economy.

90% of manufactured goods are in some way linked to the chemical industry.1 It is our collective responsibility to ensure that as industry and the population continue to grow, it does so in a sustainable way that improves the lives and well-being of all.

Mark Maxwell
Business Director

 

1. An Agenda to Mainstream Green Chemistry, Strategies for Innovation, Research and Adoption by the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council

New Year, New Paradigm – What’s on the Horizon for Green Chemistry Innovation?

New Year, New Paradigm – What’s on the Horizon for Green Chemistry Innovation?

 

The role of sustainability has shifted from initiatives aimed at increasing goodwill and reducing costs to a business imperative shaping future-proof portfolio and driving strategic decision making. While industry can boast significant progress in reducing its environmental impact, increasing public and regulatory scrutiny around plastic waste has emerged as a critical issue.
– Rebecca Coons, December 2018 Issue of Chemical Week

 

Pike Research estimates that the green chemistry market will grow to $98.5 billion by 2020, which is staggering growth considering the market was just $2.8 billion in 2011. It’s no surprise that as the green chemistry market continues to grow, so does our definition of it.

The American Chemical Society traces the start of Green Chemistry back to Rachel Carson’s book from 1962, Silent Spring. Her book served as a wake-up call, inspiring the modern environmental movement that eventually led to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Scandals like the Love Canal Tragedy have sometimes caused the public to view the chemical industry as villains. However, thanks to work done by the EPA and a multitude of other chemical industry leaders and innovators; the world is beginning to see that the chemical industry not as the villain – but instead, a key to solving some of the world’s biggest problems.

Increased use of biorenewable plant-based intermediates has been an invaluable improvement for the environment over petroleum feedstocks based on carbon footprint.  A Scientific American article quotes Frederic Scheer as saying, “it takes 77 million years to make fossil fuels and 45 minutes to use as a coffee cup” (or water bottle).  Companies like NatureWorks are building from feedstocks we never thought possible, transforming greenhouse gases into PLA for use in everything from 3D printing to packaging and construction. NatureWorks states that if you replace a single average PET baby wipe with one made from their product; it saves non-renewable energy equal to running a lightbulb for 10 minutes.

The first of The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry is waste prevention. This is a core focus at Resinate, plastic waste prevention, in particular. Plastic contains valuable molecules that already have a significant energy history and environmental footprint paid to that point. With our patented innovative technology, we harvest and build upon the inherent performance properties of these molecules, complement them with biorenewable materials, and ultimately upcycle them into higher value applications. As an example, one wooden gym floor, fully protected with a coating made using a Resinate® polyol, can contain up to 400 PET water bottles. However, new outlets for plastic waste are desperately needed – as McKinsey & Company estimates that only 16% of plastic waste is collected for recycling; with 4% as process losses; 12% going to mechanical recycling; and less than 1% currently going to chemical recycling.  We can and must find ways to improve these numbers.  Resinate takes this challenge very seriously and continues looking for innovative ways of using materials at the end of their linear life cycle; transforming them into a circular model which enables their inherent value to be captured at its highest possible point for decades to come- a trend that is steadily building momentum.

Resinate technology creates new pathways for otherwise wasted resources; validated by performance, while trailblazing a parallel path alongside biorenewable materials in support of the projected 2020 green chemistry market growth.  A win-win for everyone involved- and especially our beloved planet.

Dr. Gary Spilman
Research Fellow

From Medical Packaging Waste to High-Performance Coatings; A Case Study

From Medical Packaging Waste to High-Performance Coatings; A Case Study

The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council states that healthcare facilities in the United States generate approximately 14,000 tons of waste per day, most of which is being disposed of in landfills or by incineration. It is estimated that 25% of this is plastic packaging and plastic products.1 In fact, according to BCC Research, more than 10 billion pounds of plastic healthcare packaging was placed on the market in 2013 and only 14% of that was collected for recycling.2

Hospitals say the waste is stockpiling because balancing patient safety, cost and sustainability is difficult. It doesn’t help that haulers and recyclers often have concerns about and shy away from healthcare waste – even though the World Health Organization estimates that 85% of hospital waste is noninfectious.3  Concerns grew at the beginning of 2018, when China placed an import ban on 24 types of recyclable materials, including plastics used in soda bottles, as part of an environmental reform movement designed to deal with its own growing waste problems.4

As we have seen in other markets, creating a successful circular economy for healthcare plastics will require educating and collaborating across the entire value chain. Hospital environments are busy and intense, so it needs to be simple and easy for employees to properly dispose of and sort the recyclable materials. Training may be needed on this subject, and champions are critical. Antea Group suggests starting with a few items and gradually adding other materials.2 However, the hesitation from some recyclers and haulers mentioned above will need to be addressed, and we must continue to seek new outlets for this and other recycled material.

Because of our commitment to the circular economy and solving the broader plastic waste problem, the team at Resinate was willing to help when the Plastics Industry Association and the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council reached out to us with a project.5

The overall goal of the project was to determine if PETG scrap from healthcare facilities, which have a significant embedded energy history and environmental footprint, can be upcycled into valuable assets. The data from this project showed promising performance from the resulting recycled PETG polyols. While much work remains to streamline this process across the value chain, it is now believed that this material could be used to create high-performing polyols for adhesives, sealants, elastomers, foams, and melamine-based coatings.  

To learn more about this project, view the recycling today article here.

Rick Tabor
Chief Technology Officer

 

1. https://www.hprc.org/about-hprc   2. https://www.plasticstoday.com/medical/healthcare-plastics-recycling-project-identifies-challenges-opportunities/91876758547448   3. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/health-care-waste   4. https://www.eesi.org/articles/view/turning-chinas-ban-of-recyclable-imports-into-americas-opportunity   5. https://www.recyclingtoday.com/article/petg-medical-packaging-recycling/

Cross-Industry Collaboration, A Disruptive Force

Cross-Industry Collaboration, A Disruptive Force

As government regulations become increasingly strict and consumer awareness continues to drive demand for greener, safer products, the pressure to innovate is mounting. The chemical industry, in particular, feels a great deal of this pressure with countless downstream industries depending on it as the foundation for their greener products. (90% of manufactured goods are in some way linked to the chemical industry.1)

Developing and implementing these greener products and practices is no small feat – as Joel Tickner of GC3 states, it “will require strategic thinking, coordinated and collaborative activities, careful planning, resources, and time.”

Green chemistry innovation requires a unique set of expertise and resources – and it takes more than chemical manufacturers alone to fully acquire and harness this disruptive force. Businesses, NGOs, government and academic sectors must collaborate in support of one goal – to advance the adoption of green chemistry. Governments can support and provide resources with legislation and funding (e.g. Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge). The academic sector can create strong programs to train the next generation of green chemists and can collaborate with businesses to conduct pivotal research (sign on in support of GC3’s policy statement on green chemistry in higher education). Non-profits advocate for change, enhance information flow, support informed decision making, connect firms across sectors, and support funding. Businesses must be willing to take calculated risks and invest time and resources for the purpose of being a leader in the future of chemistry. Just one of these pieces missing creates a roadblock for innovation and implementation.

As a company on a mission to advance green chemistry, Resinate has partnered with companies like Ford Motor Company and organizations like the Plastics Industry Association to explore how we can partner along the value chain to advance green chemistry adoption. These partnerships have confirmed what we already knew to be true – that green technologies will only be adopted if they are high performing and competitive in price. The results show that green chemistry innovation and collaboration can deliver performance, value, and sustainability in one package, but work to engage the entire value chain remains. Look out for more on this subject in the coming months.

For those of you who have not yet attended, I strongly encourage you to look into the GC3 Innovators Roundtable. The Resinate leadership team has been attending for several years now and has found great value in the unique opportunity to connect with so many people across supply chains and sectors, all in one place.

If we continue to collaborate and innovate, green chemistry can transform the industry and the world.

Mark Maxwell
Business Director

1. An Agenda to Mainstream Green Chemistry, Strategies for Innovation, Research and Adoption by the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council

Using Green Chemistry to Drive Material Efficiency and Value Gains

Using Green Chemistry to Drive Material Efficiency and Value Gains

According to the ACS Green Chemistry Institute®, green chemistry enables scientists to protect and benefit the economy, people and planet through the design, development and implementation of safer, more sustainable chemical products and processes. At Resinate, we believe green chemistry also enables downstream material efficiency and value gains.

Efficiency Gains
Cradle to Cradle® is a design framework that goes beyond ‘cradle to grave’ for designing sustainable products with materials that are in abundance in a circular economy.1 Due to robust performance properties, one material with a substantial opportunity for Cradle to Cradle use is polyethylene terephthalate (PET). A study conducted by Sustainable Solutions Corporation2 found that recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) demonstrated significantly less cumulative energy demand when compared to virgin or bio-based PET. Recycled materials have a significant energy and environmental footprint already paid to that point, considering the resources used to mine, transport and process them. This previous investment means that recycled materials can come into new product processing at a state closer to the intended end use. This can mean more efficient material processing when compared to virgin or bio-based feedstocks.

Value Gains
It is important to distinguish the difference between Resinate’s view of various recycling methods- downcycling, which degrades material performance and longevity; and upcycling, which builds performance and extends the material’s lifecycle. For example, when a PET bottle is reclaimed, it goes through many processing steps to become a usable flake or pellet material. In the case of a downcycling method, that flake or pellet material is then melted down and remolded into new plastic consumer goods. However, the melting process results in a loss of performance properties that existed in the virgin material- things like toughness, flexibility and chemical resistance. To correct that degradation of material, virgin material has to be blended into the recycled content. Each time the material is recycled thereafter, you lose more of those performance properties, meaning even more virgin material has to be added. This cycle can only be repeated four or five times, on average, before you have lost any basis of performance properties in the original material. Although commonly referred to as recycling, this process is actually downcycling, as it results in the degradation of performance, value and ultimate longevity of the material.

For more information about the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, visit acs.org. 

Mark Maxwell
Business Director

1 McDonough, William & Braungart, Michael. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2002.
Sustainable Solutions Corporation; May 2014.

Green Chemistry Curriculum for Advancement of Sustainable Innovation

Green Chemistry Curriculum for Advancement of Sustainable Innovation

As environmental and social consciousness continue to drive demand for green chemistry solutions, universities have a key role to play in preparing tomorrow’s chemists. I am excited to see schools across the country developing courses, certificate programs and full curriculums dedicated to sustainable and green chemistry design.

As a company on a mission to advance the use of recycled content in green chemistry solutions, the Resinate team has traveled the country to share our knowledge and inspire other companies to adopt more sustainable feedstock materials. We know, however, that real change comes when sustainability is built into the front-end of chemistry design. It is excellent to see that many companies and organizations are supporting universities as they prepare future chemists to do just that.

The American Chemical Society has several useful resources for anyone trying to teach, learn more about, or help advance education around green chemistry. One of my favorite pages from this portion of their website is a list of educational resources that includes activities and experiments grouped by student grade level as well as Green Chemistry Pocket Guides, amongst other excellent resources. They have also compiled a list of green chemistry academic programs in the United States. Many of the schools included in this list have an ACS Student Chapter that is eligible to win an award if they complete three or more green chemistry outreach or educational activities during the school year.

The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council is another organization working to support green chemistry education. They have established a policy statement on green chemistry in higher education that I strongly encourage you and your company to sign on in support of as we have at Resinate!

Rick Tabor
Chief Technology Officer

Upcycling to Meet the Challenge of Sustainable Performance

Upcycling to Meet the Challenge of Sustainable Performance

Environmental, health and safety concerns, as well as government regulations, continue to drive rapid growth for green chemistry solutions. In fact, the market for safer chemicals is estimated to have 24 times the growth of the conventional chemicals market worldwide, from 2011 to 2020.1  Chemical manufacturers, chemical product users, governments and even everyday people are realizing that their responsibility to society must include sustainability.  This global epiphany has prompted the majority of companies to set corporate sustainability goals.  As a result of this green megatrend, the market for green polyols is growing at twice the CAGR of traditional polyols.

However, as an interesting report from the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council states, “typically a new entrant or technology is driven by some improvement in price/performance… In contrast, the drive for ‘green chemistry’ is often aimed at displacing a current technology that is working well. The new products may have a better EHS profile but are often inferior in performance.” The report also states that price/performance is the most cited reason for the slow adoption of green chemistry. 2

Efforts have been underway to replace con­ventional petroleum-based feedstocks with newer biobased versions of the same materials. Although these biobased materials have provided feedstock options that are more sustainable than fossil petroleum alternatives, use of recycled con­tent has remained relatively underutilized for high performance applications.

At Resinate, our mission is to advance the use of sustainable content (especially recycled and biorenewable content) in specialty, high performance polyols, the backbone of critical materials such as coatings, adhesives, sealants and polyurethane and PIR foams. At Resinate, we know that green chemistry is not enough, if it does not improve chemistry performance. This is why we work at the molecular level to not just recycle, but upcycle high quality, sustainable raw materials. By doing so, we have found ways to preserve and build material performance. In fact, tests have demonstrated that coatings, adhesives and foams formulated with Resinate® designed sustainable-content polyols can out-perform those formulated with conventional polyols.

Rick Tabor
Chief Technology Officer
Resinate Materials Group

1. ASBC Safer Chemicals Report (2015) 2. Advancing Green Chemistry: Barriers to Adoption & Ways to Accelerate Green Chemistry in Supply Chains (2015)

Gary Spilman, Ph.D. to Present at 2018 American Coatings Show

Gary Spilman, Ph.D. to Present at 2018 American Coatings Show

Resinate Materials Group, a company advancing the use of recycled content in specialty polyols, is pleased to announce that Dr. Gary Spilman, Research Fellow, will present at the 2018 American Coatings Show.

Dr. Spilman’s presentation, titled Sustainable, Low Emissions, High-Performance Polyols for Wood Coatings, will review how Resinate has achieved polyol and coating innovations using recycled and renewable content. Resinate will be exhibiting in booth 2687 this year.

American Coatings Show and Conference, a biannual technical conference for the coating industry, will bring chemists, formulators, and R&D personnel together April 9 – 12, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dr. Spilman is scheduled to present at 10:00 a.m., on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. For more information, or to register, visit www.american-coatings-show.com.

To register for free trade show admission, visit https://www.tradeshowregistrar.com/regsystem_rs/?event=ACS2018&brand=EB-312

About Resinate Materials Group

Resinate Materials Group is committed to advancing the use of recycled content in specialty polyols, the backbone of materials such as coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers, and foams. Since 2007, Resinate has been innovating ways to divert landfill waste, extend the lifecycle of finite resources, and upcycle used molecules into valuable green chemistry solutions.

For more information, contact Resinate at +1 (800) 891-2955, or visit www.resinateinc.com.