Imagine looking into a landfill (or incinerator) - what would you see?
Tons and tons of still-useful stuff that could be recycled into new
products (creating lots of jobs too). What a waste - and a huge expense -
to throw so much away.
Connecticut is taking action on one problem product - mattresses. The state just passed the first producer responsibility law for mattresses in the US, which now puts the onus of responsibility on manufacturers.
Manufacturers will have to both finance and manage the collection and recycling of old mattresses.
Under the law, manufacturers will set up an organization that collects mattresses and recycles them at no cost to municipalities. Each manufacturer will pay into the program to fund the organization. That fee, of course, will pass to customers when they buy new mattresses at retail stores.
The law was written with input from the industry's trade association and could become a model for other states. The nonprofit Product Stewardship Institute worked with all the stakeholders to get support for the bill.
About 175,000 mattresses are thrown away in Connecticut each year and are mostly sent to other states to be dumped in landfills or incinerated. By shifting the burden to manufacturers, local governments will save about $1.3 million and the economy will benefit from new recycling opportunities for businesses.
About 95% of the materials in a mattress are recyclable, such as steel, cotton and foam.
"Communities statewide stand to save more than $1.2 million from present
disposal costs borne by taxpayers. A cooperative and shared cost for
end-of-life management of mattresses lightens the taxpayer burden and
also transforms mattresses into feedstock for Connecticut's two mattress
recycling facilities," notes Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, assistant director
of Hartford's Department of Public Works.
The law passed both houses and is awaiting the governor's signature.
The Product Stewardship Institute is working on this at a national
level. Last year, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed state
and federal producer responsibility legislation for mattresses as an
effective way to cut the costs of mattress disposal for municipalities,
create local recycling jobs and encourage other recycling opportunities
that this untapped waste stream offers.
Similar legislation is moving forward in California.
Read about the status of producer responsibility laws in the US:
By Jennifer Waters, MarketWatch
As air travelers become inured to baggage fees, airlines are betting they’ll accept additional extra charges.
In fact, 2012 was a record year for extra-fee revenues: U.S. airlines raked in a staggering $6.03 billion in baggage and reservation-change fees, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. And it’s likely they will climb even higher in 2013. “We’re going to see more and more higher fees and new categories of fees,” says George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com.
Delta outpaced both its legacy rivals and smaller carriers in baggage-fee revenue, chalking up a jaw-dropping $866 million. United took second place at $706 million. (Delta merged with Northwest Airlines, and United merged with Continental.) American, still without a merger partner at the dance, racked up $557 million. Its suitor, U.S. Airways, came in fourth with $516 million — together, they would have left their counterparts in the dust at $1.07 billion.
As for cancellation fees, Delta again took the top spot, collecting $778 million in 2012, while United pocketed $661 million. American added $518 million to its top line as U.S. Airways brought in $298 million.
And those figures are only going to swell. In what FareCompare.com chief executive Rick Seaney calls “the worst fee ever,” cancellation charges already have risen: United last month upped its change fees to $200 from $150. As is typical of the herd mentality of the airline industry, American, Delta and U.S. Airways followed suit.
That basically renders some tickets unchangeable. If you bought a one-way discount ticket for $200 and wanted to change your flight, it would cost you another $200. Hobica thinks the change-fee hike isn’t targeted at discount leisure travelers but at business travelers who carriers hope will opt for the more pricey nonrefundable tickets. If the difference between the refundable and the nonrefundable fee is $300 but a change fee is $200 on a nonrefundable ticket, “business travelers might be more apt to choose the nonrefundable fee from the beginning,” he says.
Meanwhile, Frontier Airlines has introduced new charges that it hopes other carriers will follow, thereby decreeing an industrywide acceptance that travelers just have to, well, accept. So far, however, the legacy carriers are standing still.
Beginning this summer, Frontier will require passengers who bought tickets through a third party to pay carry-on baggage fees of up to $100. That’s right, for carry-on bags. The goal here is for travelers to bypass discount online providers like Expedia, Kayak or Hotwire, not to mention travel agents, in favor of Frontier’s own booking site.
The FCC is expected to approve a proposal that could speed up airplane Internet speeds. Photo: AP
If you buy the carry-on choice in advance, it will cost you $25. But it doubles to $50 if you pay at the counter or at an airport kiosk. It doubles again to $100 if you purchase it at the gate. But buy your tickets at FlyFrontier.com and the carry-on bag is included in the airfare.
Frontier also said it will begin charging $1.99 for coffee, tea, soda and juice on all flights. It’s unclear if taxes will be charged.
Frontier, which is transforming itself into what it calls the “ultra low-cost” carrier, is following the lead of Allegiant and Spirit airlines. Those carriers offer bargain-basement tickets for flights, but tack on exorbitant fees for everything else. Frontier’s carry-on bag charges, however, are steeper than Allegiant and Spirit.
Airline experts expect the carriers to again up their baggage fees, but at this point most are a standard $25 for the first bag. It’s the second bag that will cost you much more, depending on where you’re going, according to AirfareWatchdog.com.
For a thorough rundown of baggage fees by carrier, see AirfareWatchdog’s baggage-fee chart.)
Chemtura Announces Expansion of Its Urethanes Business into High-Performance Thermoplastic Polyurethane Products
5/15/2013 11:00:00 PM - Article #50429 PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Chemtura Corporation (NYSE/EuroNext Paris: CHMT), a world leader in hot-cast urethane pre-polymers, today announced the launch of its thermoplastic polyurethane product line under the Ultralast™ brand. “The unique formulation of our Ultralast Thermoplastic Urethanes allows plastic manufacturers to achieve superior performance by utilizing Chemtura's cast urethanes technology”
“The unique formulation of our Ultralast Thermoplastic Urethanes allows plastic manufacturers to achieve superior performance by utilizing Chemtura's cast urethanes technology,” said Matthew Hellstern, president and general manager of the Urethanes business.
Ultralast products are based on Chemtura's proprietary low free (LF) technology, which helps to eliminate undesired reactions. This well-defined polymer structure results in improved properties and easier processing. Chemtura's leadership in cast urethanes, with more than 300 prepolymer products under the Adiprene® / Vibrathane® / Duracast® brands, has allowed it to leverage its cutting-edge urethane technologies in designing its Ultralast products.
“We are proud of this addition to our urethanes portfolio, which signifies a commitment to innovation that allows our customers to be more successful in their industries,” Hellstern said.
Ultralast Thermoplastic Urethanes are commercially available in North America through Chemtura's current urethanes sales (www.chemtura-ultralast.com) and channel partner Adiprene Direct (www.adiprenedirect.com). More information is also available by contacting Ultralast customer service (email@example.com).
By Casey Sullivan
Wed May 15, 2013 9:55pm EDT
(Reuters) - A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, ordered Dow Chemical Co on Wednesday to pay $1.2 billion in a price-fixing case involving chemicals used to make foam products in cars, furniture and packaging, according to court documents.
Dow was one of several chemical company defendants named in a 2005 class action lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to fix urethane chemical prices, but it was the only defendant not to settle.
In January, Dow went to trial in Kansas City and in February a federal jury rendered a $400 million verdict against the chemical company after finding that it conspired to fix prices of urethane.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum denied Dow's request to overturn that verdict and the $400 million in damages were tripled under U.S. antitrust law, bringing Dow's overall payment to $1.2 billion.
David Bernick, an attorney for Dow, said he would appeal the judgment, saying the statistical formula used by an expert to calculate the price-fixing was not reliable.
"Dow looks forward to pursuing these and other grounds for reversal in its appeal," a Dow spokesman said in a news release. "Dow has always denied plaintiffs' allegations of price fixing."
Joe Goldberg, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he was pleased with the judgment.
"The jury found the conspiracy caused approximately $400 million in damages to thousands of businesses around the United States," said Goldberg.
Other defendants in the case have settled. In 2006 Bayer AG agreed to pay $55 million. In 2011 Huntsman International LLC agreed to pay $33 million and BASF Corp agreed to pay $51 million. In settling, none of the companies admitted any wrongdoing.
The case is In Re Urethane Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, 04-md-01616.
(Reporting By Casey Sullivan; Editing by Bill Trott)
Flame retardant nanocoating is safer and 'greener'
|(Nanowerk News) Amid concerns over the potential health effects of existing flame retardants for home furniture, fabrics and other material, scientists are reporting development of an “exceptionally” effective new retardant that appears safer and more environmentally friendly.|
Scientists have developed an “exceptionally” effective new retardant that appears safer and more environmentally friendly — ideal for the polyurethane foam in couches and bedding that causes many fire deaths. Their report on the first-of-its-kind coating, ideal for the polyurethane foam in couches and bedding that causes many fire deaths, appears in ACS Macro Letters ("Exceptionally Flame Retardant Sulfur-Based Multilayer Nanocoating for Polyurethane Prepared from Aqueous Polyelectrolyte Solutions").
Jaime Grunlan and colleagues explain that upholstery furniture and mattresses are the items that ignite in about 17,000 fires each year, causing more than 870 deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property loss. Since the polyurethane foam in these items is highly flammable, consumer protection agencies have issued stringent safety standards to reduce flammability. But health and environmental concerns exist over some of the traditional flame retardants that manufacturers add to meet those standards. Grunlan’s team thus set out to develop safer, more environmentally benign flame retardants.
A steeper-than-expected rise in US shale oil reserves is about to change the global balance of power between new and existing producers, a report says.
Over the next five years, the US will account for a third of new oil supplies, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The US will change from the world's leading importer of oil to a net exporter.
Demand for oil from Middle-East oil producers is set to slow as a result.
"North America has set off a supply shock that is sending ripples throughout the world," said IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.
The surge in US production will reshape the whole industry, according to the IEA, which made the prediction in its closely-watched bi-annual report examining trends in oil supply and demand over the next five years.
The IEA said it expected the US to overtake Russia as the world's biggest gas producer by 2015 and to become "all but self-sufficient" in its energy needs by about 2035.
The rise in US production means the world's reliance on oil from traditional oil producing countries in the Middle East, which make up Opec (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), would end soon, according to the report.Slower growth
US production is set to grow by 3.9 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) from 2012 to 2018, accounting for some two-thirds of the predicted growth in traditional non-Opec production, according to the IEA.
"The regional fallout from the 'Arab Spring' is taking a toll on investment and capacity growth”
Meanwhile, global oil demand is set to increase by 8% which would be met mainly by non-Opec supplies, the report said
The IEA still expects production capacity among traditional Opec suppliers in the Middle East to continue to grow over the next five years, but at a slower rate.
Opec capacity, which counts for 35% of today's global oil output, is expected to rise by 1.75 million bpd to 36.75 million bpd in 2018, about 750,000 bpd less than predicted in the IEA's 2012 forecast.
The IEA cites the "growing insecurity in North and Sub-Saharan Africa" in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings as a key reason for the slowdown.
"The regional fallout from the 'Arab Spring' is taking a toll on investment and capacity growth," the IEA said.Fracking
The sharp rise in US oil production is largely thanks to shale oil, a product many have hailed as the saviour of the US energy market.
Fracking, the process of blasting water at high pressure into shale rock to release oil (or gas) held within it, has become widespread in the US.
But critics of shale oil point to environmental concerns such as high water use and possible water contamination, the release of methane and, to a lesser extent, earth tremors caused by drilling.
The process has been banned in France, while the UK recently lifted a moratorium on drilling for shale gas.
COIM Brazii completes the expansion of its industrial site
Vinhedo, Brazil, May 13, 2013
COlM Brazil Ltda„ a fully owned subsidiary of the global polyurethane chemical producer COlM spa,
announces today it has successfully completed the expansion of its production site located in Vinhedo,
Brazil. “This expansion includes additional capacity for flexible packaging adhesives (Novacote) as Well
Cast Elastomers (imuthane) and special Alkidic resins (Glicexter). The new production units are equipped
with the most advanced engineering and this investment marks another significant step of the Groups
commitment to Brazil and the Latin America market” said Jose Paulo Victorio _General Manager of
J. David Ake/AP - Small business owners are concerned that the structure of a new tax on insurers will translate into significantly higher health care premiums.
Many small-business owners worry that a new tax on insurance providers in the health-care law will mean higher premiums for them, undermining the law’s capacity to lower their health-care costs.
Starting next year, the federal government will charge a new fee on health insurance firms based on the plans they sell to individuals and companies, known as the fully insured market. Meanwhile, the provision exempts health-insurance plans that are set up and operated by businesses themselves (the self-insured market).
Revenue from the tax will help pay for the health-care overhaul, which is expected to extend coverage to millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans.
However, because most large corporations self-insure their workforce, experts warn that insurance companies will pass the costs directly to small businesses. The vast majority purchase coverage in the fully insured market.
“Insurers have confirmed back to me that the tax will be passed down to consumers, and the direct impact will be staggering,” Ryan Thorn, owner of a small insurance planning firm near Salt Lake City, told lawmakers during a congressional hearing Thursday. “It disproportionately hits individuals and small-business owners, the people who have been hurt most by these challenging times.”
During his testimony, Thorn read letters from his small-business clients about the likely impact of the new health insurance tax. One wrote that the tax “scares the daylights out of us,” while another warned that it would likely “hasten the decision to move away from providing group coverage for our employees.”
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that among private businesses that offer health insurance, three of every four firms with between 100 and 500 employees purchase coverage in the fully insured market. The number jumped to 87 percent for firms with fewer than 100 workers.
On the other hand, 82 percent of large firms (500 or more employees) run their own health insurance programs.
Robert Zirkelback, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group for insurance providers, acknowledged that small firms will likely “shoulder most of the burden” of the tax. Meanwhile, a new minimum-coverage requirement for employers with 50 or more workers will be broader than what some of them already offer, he said, which could further increase their costs as they are forced to supplement their current plans.
A new study by the National Federation of Independent Business, which has long pushed back against the health-care law, suggests that the health-care tax could reduce private-sector employment by several hundred thousand jobs over the next decade, more than half of which would come from small businesses. Based on its forecasts, the toll on gross domestic product could reach as high as $185 billion.
Paul Van de Water, an economist with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, took issue with parts of the study, saying that the model does not account for higher compensation for employees in the form of better health coverage. He disputed the claim that the tax would eliminate jobs, too, citing estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that any changes in employment because of the health-care law will be negligible.
But even if the tax has some negative side effects, he said, that is the price the country must pay to improve the health-care system.
“No one likes taxes, per se, but we raise taxes to raise revenues to pay for things that we want to pay for,” Van de Water told members of the House Small Business Committee. “In this case, we are paying for an expansion of health-care coverage to 27 million Americans.”
Nevertheless, the concerns from small-business owners and insurance companies have prompted lawmakers to introduce bills that would repeal the health insurance tax — one from Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and another from Reps. Charles W. Boustany Jr. (R-La.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah).
Business lobbying groups from the manufacturing, construction and farming sectors have supported those efforts, citing similar concerns about the likely impact on their health insurance premiums.