14 October 2010

Top cleantech companies, BPA toxic (in Canada), China & India plans, Stonyfield and Starbucks, and other green news

Top Stories

"Sun shines on California in Global Cleantech 100 list – for now"reliability medium.
The Guardian has published its new "Global Cleantech 100" list of leading innovative cleantech businesses, and California firms hold 32 of the places. There are only four Chinese firms on the list. British companies numbered 10. "But while the golden state and the US as a whole are still world leaders in innovating and selling green technology, as this map shows, it's also clear the Earth's axis for "cleantech" is shifting." More about trends in cleantech innovation and business growth. From The Guardian blogs. See the Global Cleantech 100 list here.

"BPA declared toxic by Canada"reliability high.
Bisphenol A (BPA) has been added to Canada's list of toxic substances. "'Health Canada considers that sufficient evidence relating to human health has been presented to justify the conclusion that bisphenol A is harmful to human life and should be added to Schedule 1 of [the Canadian Environmental Protection Act],' the federal government reported in the Canada Gazette." It is expected that regulations or legal action will eventually force BPA to be removed from some products in Canada. See CBC News. [Canada is the first country to list BPA as a toxic material. Good New York Times article here.]

"Tesco's pledge to carbon-label all products set to take centuries"reliability high.
"Tesco will take centuries to meet its pledge to label all of its 70,000 products with their carbon footprints  at its current slow rate of progress. Figures show the supermarket chain is labelling items at a rate of just 125 a year, as data published today showed spending on products carrying the carbon reduction logo is set to top a record £2bn a year," reports The Guardian. More on the pros and cons of carbon labeling of consumer products. From The Guardian. [See this previous post on carbon labeling.]

Companies, Industries, Markets and Supply Chains

"Starbucks Tests How Coffee Cups Fare in NYC's Recycling Stream"reliability high.
Starbucks has been running an experimental program at 86 of its New York City stores where paper cups go in separate recycling bins. Its waste hauler then collects those bags of cups in the same trucks that collect cardboard waste. "Action Carting takes the cups to its material recovery facilities where they are sorted out and baled, then sent to paper mill SFK, which will turn the cups into pulp that can be used to make paper towels, printing paper and other products." The trial will see if the cup waste stream is clean enough and valuable enough for SFK to buy them long term. See GreenBiz.

"Sun Shines on Solar"reliability medium.
A recent report on the U.S. solar industry "shows there are 93,502 workers in the U.S. involved in the industry, roughly double the amount estimated for 2009. By next year, the authors of the report predict, employment in the industry will be approaching 120,000." "More than half of employers involved in solar power plan to add employees in the next year, compared with 2 percent who plan to cut workers." From Portfolio.com blogs. Zipped PDF of the report here.

"HaloSource eyes emerging mkts to tap safe water demand"reliability high.
Clean-water startup HaloSource, which raised $80 million in an IPO, "sees its 2010 revenue rising 40-50 percent from last year's $11.8 million, CEO John Kaestle said in a telephone interview, and predicts significant growth in 2011", says Reuters. "I'd say emerging markets is 20-25 percent (of business) today and will be 80 percent in the next two years," said Kaestle. Company partners with water companies and appliance makers. See Reuters. [Every middle-class household in India and Bangladesh has a water purifier in their kitchen.]

"Stonyfield yogurt cups from PLA"reliability medium.
Stonyfield Farm will switch some of its individual-serving yogurt cups from polystyrene to NatureWorks' Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA). Post has interesting comparison of the environmental impacts of PLA vs PS. Neither can be recycled or composted, it says, but production of PLA has a smaller environmental footprint, even including the environmental cost of corn farming. "Stonyfield noted that the entire multipack, including the paper label and PET lidding, is 81% bio-based material." From ICIS Green Chemicals blog. PDF of Stonyfield's life cycle analysis here.

"China's Wind Power Forecast at 230 GW by 2020"reliability high.
A report from Greenpeace, the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) says that China could reach at least 150 GW and possibly 230 GW in wind power capacity within ten years, providing output equivalent to 200 coal-fired power plants. Weak domestic R&D and insufficient distribution could affect the potential of wind energy in China. See Renewable Energy World. Access the report here.

"U.S. clean energy sector buffeted by U.S. election winds"reliability high.
Comments from industry participants worried that lack of federal government commitment will hurt their prospects. ""I am scared to death that I've spent a couple years of my life dedicating a lot of time to this business and it really isn't going to come together in my lifetime. I think the lack of leadership, the lack of vision from elected officials ... is sad and frightening at the same time," Reuters quotes one manager. "industry officials worry stimulus seeds will fall on rocky ground if Congress is not there to nurture them with supporting legislation." More comments on policy. From Reuters.

Government and Regulation

"Green in focus in $2.3 trillion India plan"reliability high.
A member of an Indian planning commission has said that "India plans to spend $2.3 trillion on the energy sector by 2030, which will include a substantial burden for expanding the country's energy basket to include green sources such as solar, wind and nuclear power," according to Reuters. "Some of it will be toward energy consumption, but a lot of it will go toward improving energy efficiency and improving the composition of energy," he said. See Reuters. [The official was a bit vague on how much of that $2.3 trillion would be spent on energy conservation efforts, how much on renewable energy, how much on transmission and how much on new fossil thermal plants. Could be a pinch of solar and wind to a pound of coal. Sounded like typical bureaucrat-speak to me.]

"A Bit More Ethanol in the Gas Tank"reliability high.
The U.S. EPA has ruled that the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline can rise from 10% to 15% for 2007-model-year and newer vehicles. "The agency said Wednesday that government testing found the blend would not damage the engines in cars with a model year of 2007 or later — about one in seven cars on the road — and would not cause unacceptable increases in air pollution. The agency is still testing cars for the 2001 to 2006 model years and expects to issue a ruling on those as soon as next month." Some suggested the interim announcement was to garner farm-state votes. Many barriers remain before E15 can actually be sold at gas stations, such as recertification of pumps to handle it, decisions about whether to dedicate a pump to fuel only some cars can use (perhaps replacing diesel), and liability concerns. See The New York Times. [A political move with no practical impact?]