Research Highlight: SOT Meeting

In 2018, the Foundation for Chemistry Research & Initiatives (Foundation) was pleased to support the Society for Toxicology (SOT) Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, held in San Antonio, TX in March.

The annual meeting is a key venue for scientists from the private sector, academia and government to present their latest research results to the broader science community and to interact with other scientists engaged in related areas of research, testing and assessment. Approximately 7,000 scientists from more than 50 countries participated in this year’s SOT annual meeting.

At the 2018 SOT meeting, research conducted by Texas A&M University, which was sponsored by the Foundation, was presented at one of the poster sessions.  The poster (Abstract Number: 3325 Poster Board Number: P106), entitled, “In Vitro Approaches to Grouping of Complex Substances and UVCBs: A Case Study of Olefin Streams,” applied a “biological read-across” principle to grouping complex substances in a case study of two olefin stream categories. More information about the poster can be found here.

The Society of Toxicology (SOT) is a professional and scholarly organization of scientists from academic institutions, government, and industry representing the great variety of scientists who practice toxicology in the US and abroad. In supporting the SOT annual meeting, the Foundation affirms its commitment to advancing research that underpins the safety evaluation of chemical products.

Initiatives Highlight: Emergency Relief Aid

Three major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, battered the United States and the Caribbean during the 2017 hurricane season. After the storms passed, disaster relief was necessary to help communities rebuild. To aid in the recovery the Chlorine Chemistry Foundation (CCF), working with safe water partners and volunteers on the ground, provided chlorine based products essential to removing mold and disinfecting surfaces impacted by flood waters.

After a home is flooded, the moist environment creates a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can pose serious health risks to individuals. Airborne mold spores can be inhaled by people and cause lung infections, permanent neurological issues, and allergies. Bacteria can also cause infections. Chlorine based disinfectants, such as liquid bleach and NaDCC granular chlorine, are effective at destroying mold and bacteria and controlling any subsequent regrowth.

Recognizing the need for relief in impacted communities, CCF stepped in to get chlorine to areas affected by the three hurricanes. After Hurricane Harvey, CCF funded a donation of 18,500 gallons of bleach to Houston, TX. Once the bleach was sent to Houston, the U.S. Conference of Mayors enabled its distribution to the areas that needed it most.

In Haiti, CCF coordinated a donation by Lonza of 6,100 pounds of calcium hypochlorite tablets. The devastation from Hurricane Irma resulted in the Southeast Clean Water Project’s calcium hypochlorite tablets to be diverted to emergency relief efforts, instead of sustaining clean drinking water systems recently established in that area of the country. The donated calcium hypochlorite tablets were used to replenish the Southeast Clean Water Project’s supply so they could continue to provide clean drinking water to the people in southeast Haiti.

After Hurricane Maria, both Florida and Puerto Rico were in need of chlorine disinfectants. CCF funded the donation of over 8,700 gallons of bleach and partnered with World Vision to distribute the bleach in Florida. In Puerto Rico, CCF provided funding for 4,000 pounds of NaDCC granular chlorine. World Vision enabled the transport of the product to Puerto Rico and Water Engineers for the Americas (WEFTA) distributed the product to communities and trained community leaders on how to use the product safely. Approximately 10,000 people were helped by this effort.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters cannot be stopped; however, the aid provided by CCF in their aftermath is critical. During these trying times, CCF is grateful to work with invaluable partners and provide relief that helps the people impacted by hurricanes rebuild.

Initiatives Highlight: Flexible Packaging Recycling Project

Research sponsored by the Materials Recovery for the Future collaborative, and administered by the Foundation for Chemistry Research & Initiatives, showed that automated sorting technologies in use today can be optimized to capture flexible plastic packaging—potentially creating a new stream of recovered materials while improving the quality of other recycling streams.

The research, documented in the Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) report, “Flexible Packaging Sortation at Materials Recovery Facilities,” demonstrates that with adequate screening and optical sorting capacity, flexible plastic packaging can be efficiently captured in a single-stream materials recovery facility (MRF).

“Flexible packaging has many positive attributes—highly efficient, great product protection, and lower environmental impact than many alternatives. However, recovery has been one of its weak points,” said Brad Rodgers, foods packaging research and development director for discovery and sustainability at PepsiCo. “This study is shedding light on pathways that can be deployed to improve flexible packaging end-of-life options. PepsiCo is proud to be actively engaged in this industry collaboration.”

“Lifecycle assessment provides compelling data regarding the potential benefits films can offer,” shares Stephen Sikra, P&G technology manager for materials science. “This research provides a valuable foundation for helping advance new solutions for flexible film recovery, and we are proud to be part of it.” Common forms of flexible plastic packaging include re-sealable food bags, pouches for laundry detergent pods, pet food bags, and snack bags.

“We now know how flexibles flow through a material recovery facility and that the technology already exists for separating flexibles out of the materials streams,” said Larry Baner, senior packaging research scientist, global packaging and design for Nestlé Purina Petcare. “Although there is still a lot of work to be done to define the best way to separate flexibles from single-stream recyclables, this research moves us closer to solutions.”

This first phase of the research program included baseline testing, equipment testing, and a series of recovery facility trials to test existing sortation technologies commonly used in MRFs, such as screens and optical scanners. RRS developed the test methodology and conducted the research trials. Subsequent research will focus on further refinements to sorting technology, economic feasibility, assessing end-use markets for the material, and developing a recovery facility demonstration project.