Filed under: Environment/Ecology | Tags: biofuels, Environmental, Food labelling
The Government has announced its intention to source all palm oil used in its central food and catering services from sustainable sources by the end of 2015. The Government will also set up an advice and information service to help UK businesses and government procurers work towards 100 % sustainable palm oil.
Deforestation is a major contributor to climate change and does arise in some areas of the world as a result of palm oil production. Palm oil and palm kernel oil are used in the food industry as frying fats and as ingredients in a wide range of foods such as biscuits, margarine, snacks and bakery products. They are also used in the production of biodiesel, in animal feed, and soaps and other cleaning products and cosmetics.
The question, from a measurement standpoint, is whether there is any laboratory test that can verify that palm oil is from a sustainable source or not? We know that geographical origin can be ascertained using techniques such as isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), so can we predict a need for such services when this laudable scheme is implemented fully?
ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency, has proposed an update to the Community rolling action plan (CoRAP) for 2013-2015 which plans for an additional 116 substances to be reviewed by member states under the substance evaluation process of the REACH Regulation.
Although 53 of these substances were originally proposed in the first plan published on 29 February, 63 substances represent new proposals from 22 member states competent authorities plus Norway.
The list of the 116 substances can be found here, and includes some common substances such as m, p, and o-xylenes, tert-butyl methyl ether, titanium dioxide and silver.
What do readers think of this list?
The non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) Client Earth and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) have published a report entitled “Identifying the bottlenecks in RE ACH implementation: The role of ECHA in REACH ’s failing implementation”. This report is a critique of the implementation of REACH since the legislation was adopted, and tries to be balanced in identifying the successes and failures of ECHA (the European Chemicals Agency) and reasons for these.
One specific issue raised in the report concerns unambiguous identification of chemical substances. Article 11 of Reach states that a fundamental principle of REACH is that for each substance there should be only one registration – but the report makes clear that this is not always the case, and that ECHA have reported that 72% of the shortcomings in dossier evaluations were related to substance identity. This highlights the extremely important role of good quality chemical measurements, to identify and quantify both components and major substances, and the need for applicant chemical producers to properly characterise substances.
The European Commission is proposing to reduce the use of food-based biofuels to meet the 10% renewable energy target of the Renewable Energy Directive down to 5%. This is being proposed in order to reduce the effect on food production by preventing land being used for biofuel crop production, and to increase the use of other biofuels, so-called second generation biofuels, which create lower greenhouse gas emissions.
This proposal will need to be enforced, when introduced into legislation, and the measurement aspects will be critical to ensure that laboratories are able to identify and quantify food-based biofuels in mixed fuels, and to distinguish them from “better” second-generation biofuels.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a non-Governmental Organisation, has written to EU Member States’ representatives to ask them to support a complete ban on the use of mercury in dentistry.
They believe that dental amalgam represents a major use for mercury and estimate that dental amalgam contributes 21-32% of overall EU mercury emissions to air, and up to 9-13% of overall mercury emissions to surface
The future potential introduction of legislation to ban mercury from batteries and dental amalgams would require enforcement including accurate and sensitive measurement techniques for mercury in these products.
Filed under: Environment/Ecology, RoHS/WEEE, Uncategorized, Waste | Tags: Environmental, WEEE/RoHS
A recent study conducted by the US-based Ecology Center and ifixit.com into the levels of hazardous substances in mobile phones has been concluded. The study was concerned with the measurement of lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium, which are covered by the EU’s Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Regulations.
The study showed that modern-day mobile phones still contain trace levels of these substances, but that the picture has improves significantly over the last five years, with levels falling dramatically in that time. This demonstrated both the ability of manufacturers to change processes to comply with new regulation in this field, but that the problem has yet to be fully eradicated. The measurement of lower levels of these substances also poses challenges for analytical chemists.
CEN, the European Standards Organisation, have published 2 standards and one technical specification (TS) covering automotive fuels during September.
CEN/TS15940:2012 is entitled “Automotive fuels – Paraffinic diesel fuel from synthesis or hydrotreatment – Requirements and test methods”
EN 16270:2012 is entitled “Automotive fuels – Determination of high-boiling components including fatty acid methyl esters in petrol – Gas Chromatographic method.”
EN 16300:2012 is entitled ” Automotive fuels – Determination of iodine value in fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) – Calculation method from gas chromatographic data.
These reflect the use of fuels from non-fossil sources in modern petroleum products, as required under legislation.