Seaweed a model solution for fighting climate change
CCS could have material impact on carbon emissions of LNG projects
China-Canada Collaboration on CO2 Capture for Cement
join in with the fourth International E-Waste Day and raise public awareness of e-waste
Nagoya Institute of Technology and NGK Establish “NGK Environment Innovation Laboratory”
CooperCompanies Releases 2020 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report
IDTechEx Discuss If Direct Air Capture Can Really Help in the Fight Against Climate Change
Climate Board Training - How To Future Proof Your Business
CDP Includes Toray in Water Security A List for Second Straight Year
Toray to Launch Eco-Friendly Ecouse(R) PET Films Representing Step toward to Sustainable Economy
Significant government intervention necessary if bioplastics are to scale
Based on the fundamentals of their environmental footprint compared to that of virgin fossil fuel-derived plastics, biodegradable bioplastics could significantly reduce the carbon emissions of the chemicals industry. However, in order to achieve the scale needed to play a meaningful role, the bioplastics industry will require significant regulatory interventions from governments and substantial cost efficiencies as technologies mature and scale, according to Wood Mackenzie. “From a sustainability point of view, bioplastics have two main benefits. As a renewable resource, they have a substantially lower lifetime carbon footprint than fossil fuel-derived polymers. Their biodegradability provides another route to reducing levels of plastic in the waste stream,” said Guy Bailey, Wood Mackenzie Head of Intermediates and Applications. Despite the urgent need to increase the sustainability of the industry, bioplastics still play a small role in the plastics value chain today. So, what factors are holding their progress back? Bioplastics currently make up less than 1% of global plastics consumption, according to Wood Mackenzie’s analysis. While healthy increases in capacity are forecast over the next few years, the growth rate is still behind expectations for polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). “Cost is a significant barrier to scaling up bioplastics, as manufacturing bioplastics is often much more expensive than traditional polymers. Until bioplastics can consistently compete on price, they’re unlikely to displace commodity thermoplastics in most applications. “Bioplastics producers also need to prove they provide a more holistically sustainable product. Agricultural feedstocks impose their own environmental costs – using pesticides and leaching of fertilisers in water systems, for example. Given current scales, bioplastics are also arguably a distraction. Building market share could mean diverting resources and efforts away from other sustainability measures, such as collecting and recycling plastic packaging,” said Ashish Chitalia, Wood Mackenzie Head of Polyolefins. Despite the hurdles bioplastics must overcome, targeted interventions can help them to compete at scale. “The easiest lever for governments to reach for is legislation. This could take the form of targets at an application level like recycled content targets for packaging applications in the EU’s Single Use Plastics Directive. Additionally, governments could focus policy changes higher up the value chain to incentivise production. “If governments start to apply significant and consistent carbon taxes or prices, this would also stand to benefit lower-carbon bioplastics,” added Bailey. To illustrate the impact new legislation and a carbon tax could have on the scalability of bioplastics, Wood Mackenzie ran a scenario that assumes bioplastics producers make a sustained push for integration efficiencies and a global carbon price of €100/ ton. “Our research shows that, combined with efficiency gains from integration and scale, the implementation of an aggressive carbon tax would bring the price of polylactic acid (PLA) – a major bioplastic – in line with that of PE and PET. “However, if the carbon price was cut to €50/ton, PLA would become a premium product once again, therefore eroding its ability to compete profitably at scale,” added Chitalia. Based on Wood Mackenzie’s analysis, critical puzzle pieces must fall into place if bioplastics are to make major inroads into petrochemical-based plastics. Some of these pieces include biorefinery integration, economies of scale, improvements in the polymerisation process technologies, an inherent mechanical property gap vs petrochemical polymers, and compatibility with downstream conversion technologies.
Companies are placing big bets on plastics recycling. Are the odds in their favor?
Plastic waste is an increasing environmental concern, leading manufacturers to take bold action on creating a circular economy based on chemical recycling. Despite these lofty goals, environmentalists are concerned that the efforts do not address the real issue of plastic overuse. A new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explains how industry is trying to tackle the problem of plastics. The Society of Conservation Biology estimates that up to 23 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, causing consumers and regulators alike to push for change in how plastics are manufactured and disposed, writes Senior Editor Alex Tullo. Mechanical recycling is limited in the number of times a plastic can be re-used and for what types of packaging, so manufacturers are eyeing chemical recycling as a solution. Chemical processes like depolymerization and pyrolysis break down plastics into their building blocks, allowing them to be made into new polymers or used for other applications such as diesel fuel. Experts also say that some chemically recycled plastics will be suitable for use in medical and food applications, which have strict safety requirements. While the promise of chemical recycling is enticing, environmental groups are critical of the practice, saying that reducing the amount of plastic consumption is the only real solution to the crisis. Chemical recycling will help companies meet their environmental pledges, they say, but may in turn increase the amount of disposable packaging produced and energy consumed. In addition, critics have pointed out that these ambitious recycling projects might not be viable, with only a small number making it past the pilot stage. Despite these concerns, some early studies indicate that chemical recycling will result in environmental benefits, providing companies with a major opportunity to reduce plastic waste in the coming decade.
Carbon dioxide reaches a record level despite COVID-19's drastic impact
Atmospheric carbon dioxide reached a seasonal peak of 417.1 parts per million (ppm) for 2020 in May, the highest monthly reading ever recorded, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, who used measurements at Mauna Loa Observatory. That’s a carbon dioxide level not experienced by the atmosphere in at least several million years, according to the scientists’ press release. This year’s peak value was 2.4 ppm higher than the previous peak of 414.7 ppm recorded in May 2019. Monthly carbon dioxide values at Mauna Loa first topped the 400 ppm mark in 2014. The peak comes despite worldwide government policies during the coronavirus pandemic that have drastically altered patterns of energy demand, according to a recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study estimates daily global CO2 emissions decreased by 17 percent by early April because of stay-at-home orders, reductions in transportation and changing consumption patterns. Emissions in individual countries decreased by 26 percent on average at their peak, the study notes. “People may be surprised to hear that the response to the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t done more to influence CO2 levels,” said geochemist Ralph Keeling in the release. Keeling runs the Scripps Oceanography program at Mauna Loa. “But the buildup of CO2 is a bit like trash in a landfill. As we keep emitting, it keeps piling up. “The crisis has slowed emissions, but not enough to show up perceptibly at Mauna Loa. What will matter much more is the trajectory we take coming out of this situation,” Keeling said.
Second International E-Waste Day raises global awareness about the growing problem of e-waste
More than one hundred organisations from over forty countries worldwide will organise activities as part of the second International E-Waste Day taking place on 14th October. The event, organised by the WEEE Forum, an international association of e-waste collection schemes, and its members, brings together e-waste stakeholders across the world to promote the correct disposal of electrical and electronic equipment to enable reuse and recycling. The International Telecommunication Union, the UN agency responsible for ICT, has, for the first time, become a partner in the day and its global reach will be important in spreading the message as widely as possible. It is estimated that 50 million tonnes of e-waste will be generated across the planet in 2019. Half of this is personal devices such as computers, screens, smartphones, tablets and TVs, with the remainder being larger household appliances and heating and cooling equipment. Only around 20% of global e-waste is recycled each year, which means that 40 million tonnes of e-waste per annum is either placed in landfill, burned or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way and this is despite 66% of the world’s population being covered by e-waste legislation. This results in the huge loss of valuable and critical raw materials from the supply chain and causes serious health, environmental and societal issues through illegal shipments of waste to developing countries. Initiatives being undertaken by participant organisations are designed to increase consumers’ knowledge about e-waste and how to dispose of it correctly. These initiatives are many and diverse and include conferences, school and city collections, promotions in stores and recycling centres, videos and animations, and an online guide for proper e-waste disposal. All of these will be promoted locally on and around International E-waste Day. The WEEE Forum itself has developed a series of infographics that illustrate the growing e-waste problem as well as videos featuring different representatives from e-waste value chain giving their take on how to tackle the challenge. All the materials can be viewed https://weee-forum.org/iewd-gallery/ Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries explained in his dedicated video message for International E-Waste Day, “We are entering the next stage in Europe's commitment to foster a circular economy. This will be part of the new Green Deal for Europe announced by the incoming Commission President Ursula van der Leyen.” He continued “Prevention and dealing with e-waste will be part and parcel of our coming work. This means recycling all our electronic waste where it cannot be avoided. But it also means rethinking the value chain for electronic goods. It means considering their appropriateness for reuse or recycling from conception. It means even going beyond and prioritizing dematerialization and closed loop systems.” Pascal Leroy, Director General of the WEEE Forum, said, “From 2019, the minimum collection rate to be achieved annually in EU member states will be 65% of the average weight of appliances placed on the market in the three preceding years, or alternatively 85% of WEEE generated. The new collection targets seek to ensure that around 10 million tonnes, or roughly 20 kg per capita, will be separately collected. Such a high collection rate is impossible to reach without the involvement of all actors in the value chain, including citizens. We are confident that International E-Waste Day will contribute to improving the societal awareness and through this help in improving the collection rates not only in Europe, but also globally.” He added: “There are many countries worldwide that are currently in the process of implementing e-waste legislation. We are therefore very pleased to have participants from six continents involved in this year’s International E-Waste Day”.
eLichens launches pioneering predictive air pollution solution
GRENOBLE, FRANCE, October 3rd, 2019 eLichens has developed and released a new Outdoor Air Quality offer which consists in: 1. Outdoor Air Quality Monitoring Stations: they measure real-time pollution data in large defined urban areas 2. Patented proprietary algorithms which integrate the measured data into a predictive model for air quality 3. Proprietary models that provide accurate estimates of the concentration of several pollutants at street-level 4. An HD Outdoor Air Quality Map which displays the data and makes it available for communities and Smart Cities Recent tests were conducted in Grenoble, France, where the solution was implemented. eLichens’ model achieved a performance qualified as “good” with regard to criteria defined by the scientific community. Next steps include the densification of eLichens’ network of Air Quality Monitoring Stations in Grenoble and San Francisco.
San Francisco and Oakland sue top five oil and gas companies over costs of climate change
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced today that they had filed separate lawsuits on behalf of their respective cities against the five largest investor-owned producers of fossil fuels in the world. The lawsuits ask the courts to hold these companies responsible for the costs of sea walls and other infrastructure necessary to protect San Francisco and Oakland from ongoing and future consequences of climate change and sea level rise caused by the companies' production of massive amounts of fossil fuels. The defendant companies — Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell — have known for decades that fossil fuel-driven global warming and accelerated sea level rise posed a catastrophic risk to human beings and to public and private property, especially in coastal cities like San Francisco and Oakland, who have the largest shoreline investments on San Francisco Bay. Despite that knowledge, the defendant companies continued to aggressively produce, market and sell vast quantities of fossil fuels for a global market, while at the same time engaging in an organized campaign to deceive consumers about the dangers of massive fossil fuel production. The lawsuits filed Tuesday in the superior courts in San Francisco and Alameda Counties were developed with assistance from the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Like the tobacco companies who were sued in the 1980s, these defendants knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now, and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property, including billions of dollars of public and private property in Oakland and San Francisco. "These fossil fuel companies profited handsomely for decades while knowing they were putting the fate of our cities at risk," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "Instead of owning up to it, they copied a page from the Big Tobacco playbook. They launched a multi-million dollar disinformation campaign to deny and discredit what was clear even to their own scientists: global warming is real, and their product is a huge part of the problem. Now, the bill has come due. It's time for these companies to take responsibility for the harms they have caused and are continuing to cause." "Global warming is an existential threat to humankind, to our ecosystems and to the wondrous, myriad species that inhabit our planet," Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker said. "These companies knew fossil fuel-driven climate change was real, they knew it was caused by their products and they lied to cover up that knowledge to protect their astronomical profits. The harm to our cities has commenced and will only get worse. The law is clear that the defendants are responsible for the consequences of their reckless and disastrous actions." The fossil fuel industry's own records show that the defendant companies have knowingly misled the American public and the world about the dangers of fossil-fuel driven climate change. Despite their knowledge of the scientific consensus on these issues, and despite warnings from their own internal scientists and/or scientists retained by their trade association, defendants continue to engage in massive fossil fuel production. They also continue to promote fossil fuels, and have developed multi-decade future business plans based upon increased fossil fuel usage even as global warming has progressed into a severe danger zone. Defendants' contributions to global warming have already caused sea levels to rise in San Francisco Bay and threatened imminent harm to San Francisco and Oakland from storm surges. In San Francisco, bayside sea level rise from global warming places at risk at least $10 billion of public property and as much as $39 billion of private property. It is also extremely vulnerable because it is surrounded by water on three sides. For example, the Ferry Building would be temporarily flooded during a 100-year extreme tide today, but could be flooded every day after 36 inches of sea level rise. San Francisco and Oakland already have begun to suffer the consequences of climate change, although the most severe injuries by far are the injuries that will occur in the future — unless prompt action is taken to protect these cities and their residents from rising sea levels and other harms caused by global warming. The lawsuits ask the courts to hold the defendants jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to and/or maintaining a public nuisance, and to create an abatement fund for each city to be paid for by defendants to fund infrastructure projects necessary for San Francisco and Oakland to adapt to global warming and sea level rise. The total amount needed for the abatement funds is not known at this time but is expected to be in the billions of dollars.