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U.S. government plan to buy more bio-based products to provide a boost to polymer industry.

An announcement was made on February 21 by the U.S. federal government that it plans to buy more bio-based products. According to local experts, this move is expected to boost the burgeoning bioproducts industry, particularly in states like Ohio.

Bio-based products include items such as paints, soaps, and detergents and are developed from farm-grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases.

The announcement calls for the federal government to "dramatically increase" the purchasing of bio-based products over the next two years, which they project will create jobs and drive innovation where bio-based products are grown and manufactured, according to a statement from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The announcement also will result in a 50% increase in the number of new products that are designated as bio-based, Vilsack said.

According to Dennis Hall, assistant director, Ohio BioProducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University (OBIC), that means the potential for more jobs and a financial boost for Ohio growers, producers, and manufacturers. The announcement has significance for Ohio, since the polymer and specialty chemical industry there is estimated to have an economic impact of $89 billion, he added. The announcement also is important because Ohio ranks first in polymer employment, Hall said.

Having large agriculture and polymer industries in Ohio makes it easy for the two to collaborate on developing new products, he said.

The federal government's BioPreferred labeling program began in 2009 and identifies products made from renew-able sources such as corn, with a goal of lowering petroleum consumption. To qualify for the designation, an item must contain enough renewable material to meet or exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture-specified standards, the department said.

Vilsack said the government's plan is a way to bring jobs to rural areas, noting that more than 20,000 companies now create bio-based cleaning agents, paints, lubricants, and personal care items from renewable sources.

Ohio's bio-preferred purchasing program, which is similar to the federal government's program, was enacted about a year and a half ago.

Packaging Suppliers Praise European Food Contact Rules

An article recently published in European Plastics News reports that the European plastics industry has broadly welcomed the results of reforms agreed to just over a year ago on the European Union regulation covering plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. This Plastics Implementation Measure (PIM) replaced the plastics directive that dates back to 2002. Directives offer EU member states more flexibility over implementing EU rules, whereas regulations have to be followed to the letter.

As well as altering the legal basis for EU action on food contact plastics, the new regulation also extended the scope of specific migration limits (SML) and changed the rules on migration testing.

It will take time for the new system to become fully embedded, but soundings by European Plastics News suggest the greater regulatory clarity has been welcomed by industry. "The change to a regulation rather than a directive is important for harmonization across Europe. It means that all countries now have the same rules, with no room for different interpretations by governments and that will greatly help free trade," said Dario Dainelli, director of European regulatory affairs at Sealed Air Corp.

"We now have a single text where everything is in the same place and that's good, particularly for consolidation of lists of monomers, additives, and other starting substances," he said. In addition, according to Dainelli, inks, adhesives, coatings, and varnishes--materials that are not plastics but become part of the final plastic material--have to comply with SML requirements as well.

Dainelli welcomed simplification of the test of overall migration so that it could be done in a more standardized way. This means overall migration becomes easier to test and to be interpreted. But he said it is also good that more attention is now placed on specific migration, "which could be critical from the point of view of consumer protection."

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Title Annotation:Regulatory and Legislative News
Publication:JCT CoatingsTech
Geographic Code:1U3OH
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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