Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) is a Washington, D.C., law firm providing biobased and renewable chemical product stakeholders unparalleled experience, judgment, and excellence in bringing innovative products to market.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published on April 4, 2022, a request for information (RFI) from interested parties on federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. 87 Fed. Reg. 19539. OSTP notes that “[t]he term “sustainable chemistry” does not have a consensus definition and most uses of the term indicate that it is synonymous with “green chemistry.”” OSTP requests information on the preferred definition for sustainable chemistry. OSTP also seeks comments on how the definition of sustainable chemistry could impact the role of technology, federal policies that may aid or hinder sustainable chemistry initiatives, future research to advance sustainable chemistry, financial and economic considerations, and federal agency efforts. OSTP states that it will use comments provided in response to the RFI to address Subtitle E of Title II of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (Subtitle E), which includes the text of the bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019. Subtitle E directs OSTP “to identify research questions and priorities to promote transformational progress in improving the sustainability of the chemical sciences.” Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on June 3, 2022. Additional Information is available in the B&C’s April 6, 2022, memorandum.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

On December 9, 2021, the American Chemical Society (ACS) announced the 2022 Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference’s (GC&E) lineup of symposia accepted to the conference. The symposia focus on the 2022 GC&E overarching theme: “Thinking in Systems: Designing for Sustainable Use.” This theme will explore how green and sustainable chemistry and engineering contribute to the development and commercialization of products for sustainable use. Accepted symposia include a session organized by B&C’s Director of Chemistry, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Ligia Duarte Botelho, Regulatory Associate. B&C’s symposium will explore the “new chemical bias” and how it continues to pose a barrier to market acceptance of novel chemistry and sustainable thinking.

The GC&E call for abstracts opened on January 3, 2022, and abstracts must be submitted by February 14, 2022. B&C’s symposium is open for abstract submissions.

Early registration for the conference will be open from February 15 through April 30, 2022.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.
 
On December 7, 2021, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a study titled: “A Chemicals Perspective on Designing with Sustainable Plastics: Goals, Considerations and Trade-offs.” The study builds on considerations from a similar OECD report from 2018 by analyzing four sector-specific case studies on insulation, flooring, biscuit wrappers, and detergent bottles. To produce this study, OECD conducted literature reviews, interviews, and workshops with chemists and suppliers, examining the chemicals perspective on the material selection process informing designers and engineering in finding sustainable plastics for their products. OECD concludes the study by identifying limitations and recommending the following next steps:

  • Identify and address knowledge gaps within scientific insights on chemicals;
  • Continue to promote chemical innovation for improved outcomes for products and their operating environment;
  • Integrate sustainability design goals earlier in the design process;
  • Broaden the scope to include other materials families; and
  • Involve more stakeholders.

The full study and a webinar hosted by OECD on December 7, 2021, are available here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson
 
On December 8, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. The EO calls for the federal government to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050. Using a whole-of-government approach, the federal government “will demonstrate how innovation and environmental stewardship can protect our planet, safeguard Federal investments against the effects of climate change, respond to the needs of all of America’s communities, and expand American technologies, industries, and jobs.” The EO directs agencies to “incentivize markets for sustainable products and services by prioritizing products that can be reused, refurbished, or recycled; maximizing environmental benefits and cost savings through use of full lifecycle cost methodologies; purchasing products that contain recycled content, are biobased, or are energy and water efficient, in accordance with relevant statutory requirements; and, to the maximum extent practicable, purchasing sustainable products and services identified or recommended by” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the fact sheet, sustainable products include “products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On July 23, 2020, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the U.S. Senate; it includes the bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019, led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and co-sponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Introduced to the Senate in December 2019, the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019 establishes an interagency working group (IWG) led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. The IWG will develop a roadmap for sustainable chemistry with a framework of attributes characterizing sustainable chemistry, assess the state of sustainable chemistry in the United States, and identify methods by which federal agencies can incentivize sustainable chemistry activities, challenges to sustainable chemistry progress, and opportunities for expanding federal sustainable chemistry efforts. Senator Coons celebrated the victory by stating that this “is an exciting opportunity to maintain our scientific leadership and ensure the sustainability of our chemical enterprise for years to come.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson 

ACS has also recently announced a call for symposia topics for its 25th GC&E conference mentioned in the article above. The theme of the conference is “Sustainable Production to Advance the Circular Economy,” which directly links to the United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. The proposal submission deadline is October 9, 2020, and notifications of acceptance will be announced by November 20, 2020.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 28, 2020, Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®) published a memorandum on the regulatory developments of the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act of 2019 (Act), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last year. The memorandum not only provides an overview of the proposed legislation, its implementation, and limitations, but also highlights the important milestones that could be achieved if the bill passes. The proposed bill seeks to broaden the support of efforts to move the chemical enterprise toward a sustainable economy and to leverage existing efforts across the federal government to seek effective new technologies that are also more sustainable than incumbent technologies. It will be important for stakeholders to review the proposed bill and consider any opportunities to engage with the working group to be created, as well as the member departments and agencies.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 9, 2019, the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019 (H.R. 2051) was passed by the House of Representatives. H.R. 2051 establishes an interagency working group (IWG) led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to coordinate Federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. The IWG will develop a roadmap for sustainable chemistry with a framework of attributes characterizing sustainable chemistry, assess the state of sustainable chemistry in the United States, and identify methods by which federal agencies can incentivize sustainable chemistry activities, challenges to sustainable chemistry progress, and opportunities for expanding federal sustainable chemistry efforts. On December 10, 2019, the bill was received in the Senate, read twice, and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 30, 2018, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) reintroduced their sustainable chemistry bill, the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2018 (S. 3296).  This bill encourages the development of new and innovative chemicals, products and processes with an improved “environmental footprint” through efficient use of resources, reducing or eliminating exposure to hazardous substances, or otherwise minimizing harm to human health and the environment.  The legislation is intended to support new innovations in chemistry that benefit the economy, the environment, and human health.  The bill supports coordinated efforts in sustainable chemistry across federal agencies through research and development, technology transfer, commercialization, education, and training programs -- including partnerships with the private sector.  The bill does not include any regulatory components, nor does it authorize new spending.  Its goal, rather, is to coordinate better federal activities in sustainable chemistry and encourage industry, academia, nonprofits, and the general public to innovate, develop, and bring to market new sustainable chemicals, materials, products, and processes.


 

On September 5, 2016, a group of non-profits, including Oxfam International, Fern, and Greenpeace, published a report outlining policy measures that should be taken by the European Commission (EC) to ensure that bioenergy is as low-carbon and resource efficient as possible. The report, "A New EU Sustainable Bioenergy Policy Report," was published after EC stated a willingness to listen to new proposals to improve sustainable bioenergy policies. EC is planning on proposing an updated bioenergy sustainability policy for the use of biomass in heating, electricity, and transport by the end of 2016, as part of the Climate and Energy Package for 2030. To ensure the sustainability of new bioenergy policies, the report discusses the need and practicality of implementing the following safeguards:

  • A limit to the use of biomass for energy production to levels that can be sustainably supplied;
     
  • An efficient and optimal use of biomass resources, in line with the principle of cascading use;
     
  • Robust and verifiable emission savings on the basis of correct carbon accounting for bioenergy emissions; and
     
  • A comprehensive, binding set of environmental and social sustainability criteria.

This report proposed sustainability criteria across all energy uses of biomass that has been grown on land, as well as residues, waste, and side-products, but not for biomass from aquaculture and marine areas.


 
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