Minnesota Puts Spotlight on Green Chemistry and Design

The GLRPPR Blog is pleased to welcome Phyllis Strong, Pollution Prevention Coordinator for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). She’s written a guest post about MPCA’s green chemistry and design projects. If you’d like to contribute a post to the GLRPPR Blog, please contact Laura Barnes at l-barnes at illinois.edu.

Over the past four years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has worked on specific projects to promote green chemistry and design practices. These projects build on green design work we had done in the past. Green chemistry and design involves formulating or designing new products (or reformulating or redesigning existing ones) to reduce environmental, workplace, human health, and energy use impacts over the product’s entire life-cycle. Our goal is to promote its practice in the state and beyond.

We recently completed the following projects:

Demonstration Projects
Cortec, Ecolab, and Salo recently completed demonstration projects. Their case studies are posted here. Cortec developed two new metal primers. Ecolab developed five new hard surface cleaners and addressed their sustainable packaging. Salo investigated the use of styrene-free resin in its manufacture of bathing systems.

Curriculum Projects
University of Minnesota – Duluth, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, University of St. Catherine, and Winona State University completed curriculum development for undergraduate course work. They modified, created, and supplemented chemistry courses to include green chemistry and design principles. They developed and improved chemistry activities. They adapted engineering courses. Their case studies and a webcast are posted here.

Green chemistry curriculum development is currently underway at two universities. Northwestern Health Sciences University is developing a consistent program of chemistry laboratory lectures and experiments featuring an emphasis on green chemistry for undergraduate chemistry courses. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities is developing an experiment that illustrates the synthesis of a block copolymer which incorporates at least one renewable monomer, is biodegradable in the environment, and has tangible characteristics students can explore. Progress on these projects will also be posted on our Green Chemistry Curriculum Project web page.

Composites project
Project activities focused on operational requirements and performance of a styrene free resin system for the Minnesota fiber reinforced plastics sector. We faced challenges as we completed the project. We shared these challenges as well as reasonable next steps. The case study and a webcast are posted here.

The following projects are currently in progress:

BPA in Thermal Paper project
The goals for the project are to:

  • determine how much BPA is contained in the thermal papers used by participating partners in the hospitality sector,
  • estimate how much BPA is contained in Minnesota’s recycled papers,
  • promote switching to paperless point-of sale systems, or as a second-choice option, to switch to BPA-free thermal papers or a non-thermal paper system, and
  • promote use of paperless systems or BPA-free or non-thermal papers to other Minnesota businesses

Formaldehyde in Building Products project
We will be conducting outreach to determine the extent of remaining uses in Minnesota.

NP and NPE in Detergents project
We are conducting outreach to determine the extent of remaining uses of nonylphenol (NP) or nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in detergents at commercial and institutional laundries.