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By Christie Harman, Executive Director, Renewable Citrus Products Association

Citrus oils are used extensively in flavors, fragrances, consumer cleaning products and other commercial products.  Compared to petroleum-based alternatives, essential oils from citrus crops have significantly lower environmental impacts.  This was unequivocally demonstrated in a cradle-to-cradle Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) recently performed which demonstrated reduced effects on impact categories such as human toxicity, smog, and global warming.


"Citrus oils are the essential oils expressed from the peels of citrus fruit during the juicing process," said Jon Leonard, president of the Renewable Citrus Products Association.  "In an era of increased awareness of sustainable practices and a global move toward utilizing renewable resources, we are pleased the LCA confirms that citrus oils are 100% biobased, renewable, and sustainable.  Additionally, by utilizing the peel to extract citrus oils, we do not consume a human food crop or impact crops used for feed or fuel," he concluded.


Citrus oils are also finding new markets as biobased starting materials for innovative products that utilize the principles of Green Chemistry. "We fully expect the use of citrus oils for Green Chemistry and Engineering to increase due to their proven low carbon footprints and ability to replace petroleum-based products," asserted Mr. Leonard.


Citrus oils are unique in that the building blocks (carbon dioxide and water) come from the environment through photosynthesis and most uses return the carbon to the environment.  This cycle is commonly called the closed carbon cycle for biomass and allows the LCA to track these building blocks from their origin in nature to their return to the environment or "cradle-to-cradle."  This carbon neutral approach demonstrates the carbon neutrality associated with renewable citrus oils.



A key objective of performing the LCA was to provide a cradle-to-gate assessment of citrus agriculture, juice production and processing of citrus oils, employing the carbon neutral approach.  The LCA follows the ISO 14040 Standard and uses the Carbon Trust’s PAS 2050 methodology to assess the global warming potential or carbon footprint of orange juice, cold pressed orange oil, 5-fold orange oil, orange terpenes and citrus terpenes more commonly called d-limonene.


The Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) impact assessment methodology was used to assess all the impact categories, further illustrating the lower environmental impact of citrus oils compared to petroleum-based products. Ultimately, the LCA showed that utilizing renewable and sustainable citrus oils promotes sustainable outcomes.


The LCA, an Executive Summary, and a two-page brochure can be downloaded at


For additional information about RCPA and citrus oils, please visit



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By United Soybean Board (USB)


Innovation and Agriculture Grow Together for Those Who "Think Soy"


“Biobased products have the potential to help our nation further distance itself from its dependence on imported petroleum,” said Kyle Thompson, a student at Michigan State University in East Lansing.


By joining the Collegiate Biobased Network (CBN), Thompson has connected with students and manufacturers who share his views.


“Becoming more energy-independent and reducing our environmental footprint are top priorities for me,” added Thompson, who is pursuing a master’s degree in chemical engineering. “Biobased products are critical to achieving those goals.”


CBN member Allie George, Georgia Tech undergraduate studying civil engineering, environmental track, helps build a water distribution system in Nicaragua. For Allie, using biobased products that last and don't harm the environment are essential.


From chemistry and premedicine, to engineering and earth science, students from a range of academic disciplines have united in the CBN. The United Soybean Board (USB) launched this professional-development program at no charge to students so they can gain information and networking opportunities. Through CBN, USB hopes to educate and engage the next generation of biobased leaders.


“CBN students have the foresight to prepare for biobased jobs as well as support use of the many products that are already available,” said USB farmer-leader Sharon Covert, an Illinois soybean farmer.


The program keeps members informed about the latest developments in biobased products, including sustainability, research, federal and state procurement programs and available products.


The CBN is open to students in all disciplines. Members receive regular updates on biobased developments, webinars on biobased topics, and networking and mentoring opportunities, and can participate in the annual USB Biobased Products Stakeholders’ Workshop. They also may choose to display and present biobased research posters at selected events.


The Collegiate Biobased Network connects students with biobased industry leaders and fellow interested students.


Covert pointed out that a number of CBN students are already conducting cutting-edge biobased research. Click here to view interviews with these students.


All college and graduate students are invited to join CBN by visiting


Or stop by Booth G at the Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering Conference, June 18-20, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.


George Washington Carver and Henry Ford helped pioneer biobased products in America through their work with soy. Today, U.S. companies offer hundreds of biobased products made from soy. Furniture, carpet backing, flooring, paints and stains, cleaning supplies, industrial solvents, adhesives, printing inks and toners, automotive parts, tires, transformer oils and energy-efficient insulation and roofing materials make up just a partial list of the many products made by innovative, environmentally conscious developers who "think soy."


To learn more and obtain a list of soy-based products, go to or


The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

It has been a hectic month as the ACS GCI Team has geared up for the 17th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference to be held the 18th through the 20th of June in North Bethesda, MD.  The conference is shaping up to be a great event, with 32 technical sessions across a range of disciplines.  As we have done in past years, the conference will host a Student Workshop—although this year we are attempting to do something a bit different with the format—taking the students through a fast-pasted, focused and engaging day. Pioneered last year, we continue the experiment with a "hybrid" session—a special session streamed-live online so people around the world can join in. The hybrid panelists will explore anticipated changes to the chemical supply chain in light of advances in bio-based renewables production and the changing landscape in fossil fuel availability. There also will be a large number of activities associated with the ACS GCI Industrial Roundtables, with all three meeting at various times through the week.  We are also excited to host an exploratory session on the greening of hydraulic fracturing.  Whether you like the idea or not, hydraulic fracturing is with us for at least the next 100 years or more, so we better figure out how to do it in a manner that has the fewest environmental impacts.


I had the distinct pleasure and honor to judge the Conference NSF Student Travel Scholarship nominations this year.  Reading through these was nothing less than inspiring.  The worse part of this process is having to turn a few students away since there are limited funds to give out and I’d like to fund all students with an interest in attending.  The absolute best part was reading the student essays and the letters of recommendation.  I'm going to have to read these from time to time to remind myself of what the future looks like. 


It's also an amazingly diverse group of students by any measure you might choose; age, gender, ethnic background, country of origin, etc.  What was really quite fun were the academic backgrounds – they are all over the academic map and not just traditional chemistry or chemical engineering.  Some in the chemistry community point to this as failing of green chemistry, I point to it as a great strength.  Clearly we are not going to solve the problems of the future by repeating the educational paradigms of the past.  And lest you think we are not drawing from the best and the brightest, the cumulative grade point average is probably very close to 4.0.  These students are also interested in outreach and have demonstrated that interest in a variety of activities.


This past week I also had the opportunity and privilege of speaking at the Federal Interagency Chemistry Representatives group annual meeting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD.  This year there was a focus on green chemistry, and it was certainly interesting to see all the things the various government agencies are doing that they feel is green chemistry related.  I am hoping to do more with this group in the future as I believe there are opportunities to advance sustainable and green chemistry by working with the Federal Agencies.


I also had the privilege and honor of speaking at GreenCentre Canada's 2013 Sustainable Chemistry Summit, a bi-annual gathering, held in Montreal this year.  The GreenCentre is a unique organization in that it works with academics and entrepreneurs to commercialize technologies that are greener.  A big problem in commercializing technologies are the twin valleys of death; i.e., managing to move from proof of concept to pilot/demonstration scale, and then to bricks and mortar.  This is, if you will, the last frontier of sustainable and green chemistry and engineering.  If we don't figure out how to move through these valleys, we just are not going to see much change.  It is great to see public-private partnerships like this and it certainly appears to be working for the GreenCentre and for Canada.


Attending GreenCentre's Summit, and other meetings like it, I am always struck by how much opportunity exists to move the world towards more sustainable practices.  Often this opportunity is overshadowed by discussions of regulations, the failings of the educational system, the failure of the public to "get" sustainable and green chemistry and what I might describe as collective hand wringing about what's wrong or arguments about what is the correct definition for green or sustainable.  I hope we can shift these discussions and the collective angst to more positive discussions about the progress we are making.  Yes, perhaps progress is slow and we have a long way to go, but we are making progress.


As always, let me know what you think.



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By Daniel Teitelbaum

Pollution Prevention Staff Lead, Toxic Release Inventory Program, US EPA


Waste Management HierarchyLast January, EPA released a new pollution prevention (P2) search tool to help bring attention to the thousands of P2 achievements that companies report to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program each year. Thanks to TRI's unique combination of quantitative environmental metrics and qualitative information on environmentally-friendly practices, this tool has enabled a wide variety of data users to quickly identify effective P2 practices and the facilities that implemented them.


Now, with TRI reports for 2012 due July 1, 2013, EPA is taking additional steps to make it easier to report P2 information. When covered facilities are asked about the types of P2 activities they've implemented, for example, they will be offered six new reporting codes that can be used to indicate the adoption of green chemistry and green engineering practices.


These codes (which are listed on page 80 of the TRI Reporting Forms and Instructions) were developed by EPA's TRI and Green Chemistry Programs, in part at the suggestion of the Green Chemistry Institute and its Roundtable members. Their use will shed new light on the extent to which toxic chemical releases have been reduced through practices such as:


  • Replacing a feedstock or reagent chemical with a greener alternative;
  • Optimizing reaction conditions or otherwise increasing efficiency of synthesis;
  • Using biotechnology in a manufacturing process; and
  • Reducing the use of organic solvents


Facilities that select these codes will have the opportunity to elaborate on each new practice and describe its benefits in the Optional P2 Information section of the TRI form. (Additional guidance on reporting P2 successes, including TRI's new P2 reporting tip-sheet, can be found at


The TRI P2 search tool will be updated to include all newly-reported green chemistry practices later this summer. You can also learn more about TRI and green chemistry by attending the June 18th session on this topic at the 17th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference



Figure 2: The TRI National Analysis provides information on newly-implemented P2 activities; new reporting codes added in 2012 will better track the adoption of green chemistry practices.


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An inexpensive new material made of clay and papaya seeds removes harmful metals from water and could lower the cost of providing clean water to millions of people in the developing world, scientists are reporting.

An inexpensive new material made of clay and papaya seeds removes harmful metals from water and could lower the cost of providing clean water to millions of people in the developing world, scientists are reporting. Their study on this “hybrid clay” appears in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.


Emmanuel Unuabonah and colleagues explain that almost 1 billion people in developing countries lack access to reliable supplies of clean water for drinking, cooking and other key uses. One health problem resulting from that shortage involves exposure to heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury, released from industrial sources into the water. Technology exists for removing those metals from drinking water, but often is too costly in developing countries. So these scientists looked for a more affordable and sustainable water treatment adsorbent.


They turned to two materials readily available in some developing countries. One was kaolinite clay, used to make ceramics, paint, paper and other products. The other: seeds of the Carica papayafruit. Both had been used separately in water purification in the past, but until now, they had not been combined in what the scientists term "hybrid clay." Their documentation of the clay's effectiveness established that the material "has a strong potential for replacing commercial activated carbon in treatment of waste water in the developing world."

The authors acknowledge funding from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, the University of Potsdam and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


Read the abstract, "Hybrid Clay: A New Highly Efficient Absorbent for Water Treatment."


From the ACS Office of Public Affairs


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