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What it means to be green: how do you define "green chemistry" and what does it mean for papermaking?

Most consumers are, at best, only marginally informed about the complex balance between their demands for excellent products (cleaner, whiter, brighter) and the chemical processes necessary to meet those demands. They know even less about the industry's continued efforts to tip that balance toward the green end of the scale. For example, the American Forest & Paper Association reports that the U.S. paper industry has spent more than US$ 1 billion since 1988 to convert to elemental chlorine free (ECF) pulp bleaching processes alone, virtually eliminating dioxins in wastewater.

So what is green chemistry? "Green chemistry is about leveraging renewable resources while minimizing overall resource consumption and environmental impact. Of course, acceptance is dependent upon cost effectiveness of the green solution," said Mark Meixner, director, business development for Hercules Incorporated, Wilmington, Delaware, USA.

Phil Hoekstra, director of applications, research and development for Buckman Laboratories, Memphis, Tennessee, cited the EPA's position that "green chemistry" should offer human health and/or environmental benefits. The EPA requires "green technology" to:

* Reduce toxicity, illness or injury, flammability, explosion potential, emissions or other releases, transport of hazardous substances, or use of hazardous substances in reaction processes;

* Improve usage of natural resources, such as renewable feedstocks; or

* Enhance biodiversity.

"At Buckman, we strive to insure that we address each item on this list," Hoekstra said.


Hercules aims to maximize customers' economic value while minimizing--or even improving--impacts on the environment such as generation of hazardous substances and non-renewable energy consumption, Meixner said. "We have a group of individuals that follow regulatory issues and provide input to our R & D group. This allows us to develop products that will not only help customers meet paper quality specifications or manage their manufacturing processes, but will also allow them to remain in compliance with newer, more demanding regulations."

Meixner gave the following examples of current products reformulated as a result of direct regulatory trends or directives:

* Oil-based products modified or reformulated to comply with regulations for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), Akylphenolethoxylates (APEs), U.S. Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA 313), and the German regulatory agency Bundesinstitut fuer Risikobewertung (BfR, formerly BgVV).

* Reformulation of emulsion products using non-NPE (nonylphenolethoxylate) surfactants.

* Higher solids emulsions to reduce non-performance enhancing materials while also reducing oils and surfactant levels to minimize VOC emissions.

* More highly concentrated products to reduce VOC emissions and reduce the number of deliveries (fossil fuel consumption).

Specific chemical products also target environmental needs, he said. These include tall oil separation aids to improve the reclamation process in the pulp mill and offer opportunities to turn by-products into viable commercial products; and coagulants and other water clarification programs designed to improve water quality.

Doug Yoder, product manager for for Buckman Laboratories, defines "green chemistry" as "products that fall well below current environmental restrictions in terms of VOCs, toxicity, or hazardous air pollutants; products whose environmental fate has significantly less impact on the environment; and products that are safer to handle.

"For example, our enzymatic products for boilouts, biological slime control, pitch control, and stickies control meet these criteria, and are just as effective, if not more so, than traditional, less 'green' products," he said. "These chemical products have reduced or replaced products containing harsh solvents, biocides, and caustic materials."


1. Products and programs that help mills reuse water and close water systems.

2. Products that retain solids/filler in paper.

3. Programs facilitating use of lower quality/recycled fiber.

4. Programs requiring less energy, including retention programs, scale control, felt conditioning, and lime kiln additives.

5. Refining aids that reduce energy use in refiners and grinders.

6. Digester additives that improve cooking efficiencies and reduce energy usage.

7. Deposit, scale and corrosion control that reduces use of cleaners and boilouts.

8. Bulk/returnable bins (less packaging).

(Source: Mark Meixner, Hercules Incorporated)

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Title Annotation:Four-Minute Focus
Author:Bottiglieri, Jan
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Previous Article:Powering up older systems: a guide to upgrading legacy systems--what does and does not work.
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