New IDTechEx Report Explores the Future of Carbon Utilization
Patisserie at Park Hyatt Busan Hosting The Earth Day Event
Luxury UAE hotels adopt bio-based, eco-friendly straws from Sulapac
Full Page Letter to the Biden Administration in New York Times Urges Immediate Action to Protect Nature and Prevent Pandemics
Eco-friendly Brands That Put the Planet First
Gamigo’s community plants more than 110,000 new trees through Eden Reforestation Projects
New range of beauty innovation from CHANEL with sustainable Sulapac material
POP Joins Forces with Planet Classroom to Launch NET ZERO Video Series and Ensure Countries Follow Through on Climate Pledges
Porsche Korea Launches ‘Bee’lieve in Dreams’, an Urban Beekeeping Project
Seaweed a model solution for fighting climate change
CCS could have material impact on carbon emissions of LNG projects
The use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) could have a material impact on LNG projects’ carbon emissions. Depending on the strategy adopted, more than 25% of overall carbon emissions could be removed, says Wood Mackenzie, a Verisk business (Nasdaq:VRSK). LNG is one of the most emissions-intensive upstream resource themes in the energy sector. With pressure increasing on LNG players to cut emissions, significant steps are required to decarbonise portfolios. Wood Mackenzie senior analyst Daniel Toleman said: “Around 40% of the total scope 1 and 2 LNG emissions are from the process of gas liquefaction. That said, not all LNG projects are created equal from an emissions perspective. Each plant has a unique emissions profile and hence the best way to reduce the carbon footprint of an Arctic LNG plant may vary significantly from one in Qatar or Australia. “The main options for reducing LNG emissions include CCS, carbon offsets, methane leakage reduction, electrification, and the use of renewables and batteries. CCS can have a material impact on reducing emissions of LNG projects. Depending on the CCS strategy adopted, we estimate that more than 25% of carbon emissions can be removed. “The good news is that LNG players are well placed to lead the CCS charge, with strong balance sheets, operational capability and reservoir expertise. There are also economic incentives for pursuing CCS as reducing emissions mitigates against a carbon tax, helps future-proof the asset and can offer pricing upside.” There are two main approaches to deploying CCS at LNG projects: capturing CO2 from the reservoir and capturing post-combustion CO2. Various factors that can impact CCS project costs include proximity of CO2 source to the injection site, onshore versus an offshore injection, project economies of scale, and availability of existing infrastructure for repurposing. Approach one involves capturing reservoir CO2. There are significant cost advantages to this approach versus post-combustion capture. Irrespective of whether reservoir CO2 is sequestered or vented, all LNG projects must remove CO2 from the feedgas stream before liquefaction to prevent the CO2 from freezing and blocking processes. As such, the acid gas removal unit (AGRU) used to capture CO2 does not incur additional costs. Reservoir CCS can reduce the overall intensity of LNG projects by 25%, and in some cases up to 50%. In contrast, the second approach, post-combustion CCS, involves capturing CO2 from the LNG flue gas stream. Post-combustion CCS is more expensive compared to reservoir CCS. However, there are cost benefits of adding post-combustion CCS to a new-build LNG facility, due to design and location synergies. Tax credits or other policy incentives may also help improve the economics of post-combustion CCS. For example, in the US, new-build post-combustion projects can become very competitive as well with the application of the 45Q tax credit for carbon sequestration. Toleman said: “CCS will play a significant role in reducing emissions from LNG projects as long as country-specific legislation progresses, and costs can be brought down. Low-cost reservoir CCS projects are likely to be the first to move ahead. Look out for projects in Qatar, Australia, Malaysia and Timor Leste. LNG players in the US, who benefit from the 45Q tax credit, will likely be the first LNG players to take post-combustion CCS forward.”
China-Canada Collaboration on CO2 Capture for Cement
A new collaboration between the China Building Materials Academy, (CBMA) and Canadian based, International CCS Knowledge Centre (Knowledge Centre) will see simultaneous advancements in understanding and knowledge sharing of carbon capture technology designed specifically to see substantial emission reductions from the global cement industry. The first initiative under the agreement, Carbon Capture Use Piloting with Cement Kiln Project will aid CBMA in applying the Knowledge Centre’s model and Front End Engineering Design (FEED) of a test platform - which has a carbon dioxide (CO2) capture capacity of approximately 155 kg CO2/per day. The project will be built and piloted on a carbon capture system that utilizes the post combustion flue gas from a producing cement kiln. The Knowledge Centre will have an observer role to learn and gain insight on the characteristics of a cement kiln operation and its integration with a post combustion carbon capture system. The agreement grants the Knowledge Centre access to the operational data, such as further design, testing, data based on the modelling, emission-related information, and any improvements made to the CO2 capture test platform. This collaboration agreement is part of a bilateral science and technology cooperation between Canada and China, the China-Canada Science & Technology Cooperative Action Plan. The agreement also syncs with goals of the Chinese government to achieve carbon peaking before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060 with efforts of the cement industry in China to accelerate innovation in low carbon technologies. Through the carbon capture pilot platform, the CBMA is expected to adapt the application for potential scale-up to commercial demonstration with know-how that could be applied across the sizable fleet of China National Building Materials Ltd. (CNBM), the world’s largest cement producer and the parent of CBMA. The Knowledge Centre is currently completing a feasibility study on a full-scaled post-combustion carbon capture system on Lehigh’s Cement plant in Edmonton, Canada by applying the same model based on large-scale CCS experiences from the commercial coal-fired power plant, at the famed Canadian based Boundary Dam 3 CCS Facility.
join in with the fourth International E-Waste Day and raise public awareness of e-waste
This year’s International E-Waste Day (#ewasteday), taking place on 14 October, will focus on the crucial part each of us, as consumers and as citizens, has in making circularity a reality for e-products. According to the UN, in 2021 each person on the planet will produce on average 7.6 kg of e-waste, meaning that a massive 57.4 million tonnes will be generated worldwide. Only 17.4 per cent of this electronic waste containing a mixture of harmful substances and precious materials will be recorded as being properly collected, treated and recycled. Many initiatives are undertaken to tackle this growing concern, but none of them can be fully effective without the active role and correct education of consumers. The Coronavirus pandemic has had a perceptible effect on our use of electronics and digital solutions, with people relying on e-products to keep them connected with work colleagues and in their family and social life. This has not only meant a greater use of technology in the home, it has also led to an increase in the consumption of e-products. According to a study commissioned by the European Parliament, within the European Union the demand for personal computers and tablets rose by almost 5% year-on-year until December 2020. In this context it is even more important to make users aware of the options that exist for their end-of-life equipment. In the past editions of #ewasteday, the activities of the Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) in the WEEE Forum and other participants ranged from conferences and events, through school and city collection campaigns to competitions and games. In the 2020 edition lots of creativity was shown to raise awareness in accordance with the Covid restrictions and many great online (and physical where possible) activities took place (see https://youtu.be/WlaBr_187Ak for details of the last edition) carried out by more than 120 companies from over 50 countries covering all continents. “Education and awareness are powerful tools for preventing waste and boosting separate collection and quality treatment. If you need to climb a mountain you need the right tools. International E-Waste Day is the right kind of tool” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment in his dedicated message last year. This is one of the reasons why this year too, the WEEE Forum invite all organisations sensitive to the issue of effective and circular e-waste management to plan awareness raising activities for 14 October and join this common effort by registering https://weee-forum.org/iewd-register/ Any action promoting sound e-waste collection, repair, reuse or recycling is welcome in the frame of International E-Waste Day. Registered participants will get access to the official promotional materials.
Nagoya Institute of Technology and NGK Establish “NGK Environment Innovation Laboratory”
Nagoya Institute of Technology (hereinafter, “NITech”) and NGK INSULATORS, LTD. (hereinafter, “NGK”), both based in Nagoya, Japan, have established the NGK Environment Innovation Laboratory on the NITech campus. This collaboration between the private sector and academia will work on creating innovative next-generation products that contribute to a significant reduction of greenhouse gases, such as materials for next-generation power semiconductors and high-performance storage batteries. The NGK Environment Innovation Laboratory is headed by Professor Tomokatsu Hayakawa of the NITech with Project Professor Hideki Mori and NGK’s Shinji Kawasaki as deputy directors. Five NITech professors with different fields of expertise will initially engage in three research and development with NGK’s R&D division. The project will run for five years from April 1, 2021. In its mid-to long-term vision NGK Group Vision: Road to 2050 formulated in April 2021, NGK identified carbon neutrality (net zero volume of greenhouse gas emissions) as one of its priority social issues. Since 2009, the NITech and NGK have engaged in a comprehensive collaboration program including joint research and technological exchange. The NGK Environment Innovation Laboratory was established as part of this collaboration under the NITech’s project laboratory program* to focus on development related to carbon neutrality. The laboratory project will engage in research and development of next-generation power semiconductor wafers essential for energy-saving electronic devices and electric vehicles (EV), ceramic solid-state electrolytes and separators with high ionic conductivity for high-performance storage batteries that are indispensable to utilize renewable energy. These research themes are included in the 39 themes identified in the Japanese Government Cabinet Office’s “Environment Innovation Strategy” set in 2020 and can take advantage of NGK’s ceramics technologies. The laboratory will consider taking on additional research themes that contribute to inventive environmental innovations and themes related to materials informatics* going forward. With the private sector and academia working together, the laboratory aims to drive innovation in energy and environmental fields that help us substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
CooperCompanies Releases 2020 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report
CooperCompanies (NYSE: COO) announced today the publication of its first Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, highlighting the Company’s progress on ESG items most important to its businesses and stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, customers, and global communities. “At Cooper, we believe operating with integrity and conducting our business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner is important to our long-term success. We are proud of our ESG progress and committed to accomplishing more,” said Al White, President and CEO of CooperCompanies (“Cooper”). Cooper’s 2020 ESG Report details its commitment to bringing health and vision care to more people worldwide through ethical business practices and innovative, high-quality products. It includes the Company’s approach and progress on key ESG priority issues identified during a recent materiality assessment, including product quality and patient safety; business ethics; employee health and safety; diversity and inclusion; and human capital management. In developing the report, Cooper aligned with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards. Key report highlights include: • Established a breakthrough partnership with Plastic Bank® that makes CooperVision’s clariti® 1 day the first net plastic neutral contact lens in the U.S. • All key facilities in New York and the United Kingdom source 100% renewable electricity via Renewable Energy Certificates. • Women make up approximately 48% of Cooper’s global workforce. The Company will achieve gender parity on its Board of Directors as of July 2021 with the addition of its fourth woman director. • Received certification as a Great Place to Work in the U.S. for the third consecutive year and recognition as one of the Top 10 Best Large Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production in the U.S. Cooper’s mission of improving lives one person at a time is grounded in enhancing the health and wellness of people and communities across the globe. The company aligned our commitments with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”), in particular with three SDG’s that most closely connect with its business: #3 Good Health and Well-being, #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, and #17 Partnerships. Read more in the Cooper 2020 Environmental, Social, and Governance Report: https://www.coopercos.com/esg-report-2020/
IDTechEx Discuss If Direct Air Capture Can Really Help in the Fight Against Climate Change
Carbon capture technology may be essential in helping the world in the fight against climate change. By fitting fossil fuel power stations and industrial emitters with carbon capture technology, it is possible to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by over 90%. Until renewable energy is capable of providing the bulk of the world’s power needs, carbon capture may have to play a major role if the world is to meet the 2°C warming target outlined by the Paris Agreement. “Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage 2021-2040”, a new report by IDTechEx, explores the technical and industrial factors that will play a role in deciding whether carbon capture technology can live up to its potential as a key technology in the fight against climate change. However, capturing CO2 from point sources such as power stations and steel manufacturing plants may not be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Most scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for keeping the world below 2°C of warming require the active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. Outside of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which remains highly unproven, this is not possible with point source carbon capture. A potential solution is direct air capture (DAC) technology, which uses carbon capture techniques to strip CO2 from atmospheric air. The technology has generated much excitement around the world, with many hoping it could help to directly reverse the impacts of climate change. However, despite the enthusiasm, the technology is still at a very early stage, is unproven at scale, and is currently far more expensive than point-source carbon capture. So, does DAC justify the excitement or is it doomed to fail? And why not just plant trees instead? The DAC process is similar to an artificial tree; ambient air enters the DAC device and a range of chemical and physical processes extract the CO2 before the rest of the air is released back into the atmosphere. However, the process is much more efficient than planting trees, requiring less land and fewer resources. For example, Swiss DAC company Climeworks claims that its plant in Hinwil, Switzerland, can remove 900 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of 36,000 trees. Commercial DAC methods work via a similar mechanism to point-source carbon capture. First, large fans push ambient air through a filter containing a substance that physically or chemically binds the CO2, with the CO2-free air being released back into the environment. For example, sodium hydroxide solution will react with CO2 to form a stable sodium carbonate precipitate. This carbonate can then be heated to produce a high purity gaseous CO2 stream, which also enables the regeneration of the sodium hydroxide. For CO2 separation, liquid solvents – usually amine-based or caustic – are commonly used to absorb the CO2 from the ambient air. Alternatively, solid sorbents can be used via a chemisorption mechanism, with heat and vacuum being used to desorb the CO2 and enable reuse of the sorbent. To date, the most successful processes for capturing CO2 from the ambient air are based on low-temperature solid sorbents and aqueous alkaline solutions. Several companies around the world are working to commercialize DAC technology, with more and more start-ups being founded every year and investors putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the rapidly expanding field. Arguably the most successful company in the field is Climeworks. Climeworks uses a low-temperature solid sorbent method based on amines supported by a cellulose mesh to capture atmospheric CO2 in an energy-efficient manner. The company uses a modular design for its “CO2 Collectors”, which it claims reduces costs and supports scalability, and has 15 DAC systems in place across Europe, making it the largest DAC operator in the world. Another fast-growing company in the field is Carbon Engineering, based in Squamish, British Columbia. Carbon Engineering is taking the opposite approach to Climeworks, aiming to construct a large-scale single facility in the Permian Basin capable of capturing 1 million tonnes of CO2 every year by 2023-2024. The company believes this large-scale approach will help access economies of scale and improve the commercial feasibility of the DAC process. Unlike Climeworks, Carbon Engineering uses a high-temperature aqueous method for capturing atmospheric CO2 based on potassium hydroxide. This method allows continuous capture of CO2, rather than separate capture and regeneration steps, although the energy required to regenerate the sorbent can be much higher. Beyond these two major players, several companies are innovating in DAC technology. Global Thermostat is aiming to reduce the costs of DAC through its porous, honeycomb ceramic “monoliths”, which act as carbon sponges, while Prometheus Fuels is developing an electrochemical method for converting atmospheric CO2 into fuels using water, electricity, and carbon nanotube membranes. Other companies such as Infinitree and Skytree are developing innovative solutions for removing CO2 from the local atmosphere. Despite the optimism around DAC, the technology still faces some serious hurdles before it can reach the scale where it has a meaningful impact on climate change. The main issue at the moment is the cost of the technology. Although DAC companies have remained fairly tight-lipped around their current process costs, capturing one tonne of CO2 directly from the atmosphere is believed to cost $600-$1,300 using current technology, compared with $40-$80 for capturing one tonne of CO2 from the flue gas stream of a coal-fired power plant. Although some of these costs are related to the immaturity of the technology and can be expected to decrease in the coming years, it is unlikely they will ever be as low as point source capture costs. There is a relatively low amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (ca. 412 ppm compared with 150,000 ppm in point emission sources), meaning that stripping it is much more technically challenging and a process that fundamentally requires much more energy. A 2018 study from Carbon Engineering described how DAC costs could be reduced to $94-$232 per tonne, although the $94 figure was an optimistic outlook. The world is currently emitting over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 every year, so for DAC to have a meaningful impact on atmospheric CO2 levels, it could cost hundreds of billions of dollars in capture costs, not to mention the huge energy requirements for the process. Nevertheless, facing these costs may be unavoidable if the world is to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. It will, however, require serious coordinated action from governments and industry alike. The other major issue facing DAC is the limited time available for scale-up if it is to have a meaningful impact on atmospheric CO2 levels before it’s too late to avoid the 2°C warming target set out by the Paris Agreement. All DAC technology currently deployed across the world can capture around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, a tiny fraction of global emissions. The Carbon Engineering 1 million tonne per year plant, alongside other developments, will boost this by the middle of the decade, but it will still be a long way from being able to have a meaningful impact. IDTechEx forecasts that DAC capacity will reach 265 million tonnes of CO2 captured by 2030 and could reach 8% of global carbon capture capacity by 2040, but this will require major levels of investment and technology development. Direct air capture is an exciting technology that has the potential to actively reverse decades of damage to the atmosphere from anthropogenic emissions. However, it is not a silver bullet and DAC alone will not be enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Nor is the future potential of DAC enough to justify inaction over emissions now, in the hope that future technology will solve the problem. Nevertheless, as part of a coordinated system of carbon capture technology, negative emissions technologies, and emissions reduction strategies, DAC could play an important role in creating a sustainable future. For a detailed technical and economic analysis of DAC technology, alongside point source carbon capture, carbon utilization and carbon storage methods, see the recent IDTechEx report, “Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage 2021-2040”.
Climate Board Training - How To Future Proof Your Business
A new initiative aimed at building more climate literate business leaders is being piloted in early June by the Climate Reality Project and the social climate social media organization We Don’t Have Time. The initiative, which is initially aimed at board members in Europe and USA, could be a regional blueprint for a global effort if the training proves successful. The decision to launch the scheme, which begins with a pilot course in Swedish and then in English for a total of up to 100 board members, follows recent, in-depth research by New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business. “It found only 0.2 per cent of board members on Fortune 100 companies had ‘climate expertise’ despite climate change becoming a defining force in the future success or failure of business world-wide,” said Ingmar Rentzhog, the CEO and founder of We Don’t Have Time. “I witnessed this firsthand during a recent fund-raising drive with some financiers reasonably familiar with the challenges and opportunities of climate action, but still many, many others requiring a great deal more information and deeper understanding about one of the most defining issues of our generation,” he added. Christina Carlmark, Volunteer Regional Coordinator, Climate Reality Europe – Team Nordics, said: “The training will be based on a customized Al Gore presentation, delivered by myself and Ingmar Rentzhog. Having presented this material to numerous management teams, I know it will be engaging, motivating and inspiring.” Former US Vice-President Al Gore is the Climate Reality Project Founder, currently hosting climate trainings online to increase the transition to a low-carbon sustainable world. “Business has a crucial role to play helping governments deliver the Paris Climate Change Agreement and we want to provide board members with the knowledge, the urgency and direction needed to step up ambition and develop the businesses and solutions the world needs in the 21st Century,” said Ingmar Rentzhog. Part of the training will include how to communicate what a company is doing to address climate change in its day-to-day operations to ensure its claims and aims matches the need for honest, climate and environmental information among a growing, younger generation of climate savvy consumers. The two courses, which also involve partner Global Utmaning, will kick off on 1 June with a course in Swedish and conclude on the 3 June with the training in English. More courses are likely to be planned in the autumn to meet the anticipated demand by companies and corporate leaders, make sure to join the social network for climate: WeDontHaveTime.org to get an invite. Company board members wanting to take part in the ‘Climate Board Training—How to Future Proof Your Business’ can learn about the program and register in advance at https://www.wedonthavetime.org/events/futureproofyourbusiness
CDP Includes Toray in Water Security A List for Second Straight Year
CDP (see note 1), an international non-profit organization, has included Toray Industries, Inc., in its Water Security A List for the second consecutive year. Toray Group is committed to innovating advanced materials that help resolve environmental issues. This is in keeping with a principle since Toray’s foundation in 1926 that corporations are public institutions that should contribute to society through business. Providing access to clean water is pivotal to the Toray Group Sustainability Vision, representing a roadmap to the World as Envisioned by Toray Group in 2050 and Toray Vision 2030. The Group is accordingly endeavoring to help alleviate water shortages across the globe through reverse osmosis membranes and other water treatment technologies, reducing, reusing, and recycling water resources in business and safeguarding water resources. Water is essential to life, but just 0.01% of water on Earth is readily usable for daily living. Water stress (see note 2) has become an issue amid population growth and economic development. Recent years have witnessed frequent droughts, floods, and other disasters worldwide attributable to climate change. Global food demand should increase by more than 20% over the next 15 years. Water depletion could lead to frequent famines from crop failures. Access to water and sanitation for all is accordingly one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. All tangible products are made from materials, which is why Toray Group believes that materials can change lives. The Group will contribute to social sustainability through ongoing efforts to help resolve water shortages, climate change, and other global issues. ### Notes 1. CDP (formerly, the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a non-profit organization founded in the United Kingdom in 2000 that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states, and regions to manage their environmental impacts by tackling the challenges of climate change, water security, and deforestation. 2. Areas experience water stress when annual water supplies are below 1,700 cubic meters per person.
Toray to Launch Eco-Friendly Ecouse(R) PET Films Representing Step toward to Sustainable Economy
Toray Industries, Inc., announced today that it has developed Ecouse® (pronounced Eco-Use) polyethylene terephthalate (PET) films. It succeeded in constructing a recycling system by collecting used films from electronic component applications, and recovering to eco-friendly films which helps materialize a sustainable economy. The company aims to launch full-fledged sales of the new product after setting up an annual production capacity of 2,500 metric tons. The diverse applications of PET films include electronic components, packaging materials, and display items. The supply chain of electronic components from film production through disposal is relatively short, prompting moves to consider recycling systems. The challenge, however, has been an absence of techniques to remove diverse coatings, resins, and other materials from each process in the supply chain. This has hampered reusing materials in films, so the focus has been on waste disposal and thermal recycling. Toray therefore set about collaborating with companies across the supply chain in what proved a successful effort to build and run a system to collect and reuse PET film from electronic component applications. Toray combined mechanical recycling process technology, which removes coatings materials and resins from film surfaces through grinding, washing, separating, drying, re-granulating and compounding, with foreign matter removal techniques for each manufacturing process to enable reuse in films without impairing mechanical characteristics or reliability. The resulting Ecouse series of eco-friendly PET films could help lower the consumption of raw materials derived from fossil fuels and waste plastics while lowering carbon dioxide emissions, from used film recovery through film production, by 30% to 50% less than those of conventional Toray offerings. Ecouse is a brand for recycled materials and products that Toray began rolling out worldwide in 2015. The company has traditionally reused scrap from manufacturing processes as raw materials for films. It will now accelerate its deployment of recycled films through developing Ecouse series PET films employing recycled materials from customers. Toray looks to build more recycling systems and manufacturing setups to expand the variety of collecting film applications beyond electronic component. It will also expand the use of Ecouse for other series of films and film processed products. Toray’s Green Innovation Business Expansion Project provides solutions to environmental, resources, and energy issues. It is through that initiative that Toray seeks to expand its businesses across diverse fields, including energy conservation, biomass, and recycling, to help materialize a sustainably circular economy. Toray will continue to supply innovative technologies and advanced materials that help the world overcome the challenges of balancing development and sustainability.
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.