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Packaging innovations among EPA ‘green chemistry' awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized innovative chemical technologies that have the potential to prevent pollution in the United States. These awards recognize leading researchers and industrial innovators who create safer and more sustainable chemical designs, processes and products that reduce the need to use chemicals that pollute the environment and threaten Americans' health. The awardees were honored during the 17th Annual Green Chemistry Challenge Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.


"EPA congratulates the 2012 winners for designing, developing and implementing these innovative green chemistry technologies that will help create more sustainable industries and greener, safer products to protect people's health and the environment," says Jim Jones, EPA's acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "These are exciting technologies that have great potential to improve the safety of the detergents and personal care products we use in our homes; reduce energy consumption and hazardous waste in industrial metal production processes; improve the paper goods and plastics we use daily so that they are made with a smaller environmental footprint and can be recycled more effectively; and even a potential alternative to BPA-based can linings."


The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards include five categories: Academic, Small Business, Greener Synthetic Pathways, Greener Reaction Conditions and Designing Greener Chemicals.


This year, EPA is recognizing two winning academic technologies:


• Robert Weymouth, PhD, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, and James Hedrick, PhD, San Jose, CA, for organic catalysis—an innovation that removes hazardous metals used in the production of plastics. The technique creates a safer end product that allows bottle-to-bottle recycling, thereby providing an opportunity to reduce the millions of pounds of plastics that end up in landfills.


• Geoffrey Coates, PhD, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, for synthesizing biodegradable polymers from carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that can be used in a range of adhesives, foams, plastic and potentially lead to the development of an alternative to bisphenol-A (BPA) for use in can linings.


In the small-business category, Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., Woodridge, IL, is being recognized for the production of high-performing, green specialty chemicals at advantageous costs. These green chemicals can be produced with less energy, significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions compared to petrochemical technologies, and used in a range of consumer and industrial products and processes.


Winners in the "Greener Reaction Conditions, Designing Greener Chemicals and Greener Synthetic Pathways," categories include:


• Cytec Industries Inc., Woodland Park, NJ, for MAX HT "Bayer Process" scale inhibitor products that result in a drastically more energy efficient and less hazardous process for the production of alumina, a raw material for making aluminum. Application of this technology can result in reducing hazardous acid waste by millions of pounds annually and preventing billions of pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.


• Buckman Intl. Inc., Memphis, TN, for enzymes to be used in papermaking that modify the cellulose in wood to increase the number of "fibrils" that bind the wood fibers to each other. The innovation produces paper with improved strength and quality without additional chemicals or energy. The process also allows papermaking with less wood fiber and higher percentages of recycled paper, enabling a single plant to save $1 million per year.


• Codexis Inc., Redwood City, CA, and Yi Tang, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, for a more efficient, safer green chemistry approach to manufacturing the drug Simvastatin, a leading statin drug used to treat cardiovascular diseases.


By recognizing groundbreaking scientific solutions to real-world environmental problems, EPA's Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Program award winners have significantly reduced the hazards associated with designing, manufacturing and using chemicals. The program promotes research and development of less-hazardous alternatives to existing technologies that reduce or eliminate waste, particularly hazardous waste, in industrial production. An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute selected the 2012 winners from among scores of nominated technologies.


During the 17 years of the program, EPA has received 1,492 nominations and presented awards to 88 winners. Winning technologies alone are responsible for reducing the use or generation of more than 825 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air. These benefits are in addition to significant energy and cost savings by the winners and their customers.


More information on the awards, click here.


Listen to podcasts about this year's winners here.


Source: EPA



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