From: Amy Hoak, Herald & Review
Published July 7, 2005 12:00 AM

ADM up to the Green Challenge

DECATUR, Ill. — E-mails from colleagues and acquaintances around the world have been landing in Mark Matlock's inbox.

The reason for the flurry of correspondence: Relaying congratulatory words for Matlock and his employer, Archer Daniels Midland Co., which recently won two Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Matlock is ADM's senior vice president of food research.

It was the first year the company submitted entries. It also was the first time a company has won two of the awards in the same year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the program.

"To win two in one year is a big deal," said Tracy Williamson, chief of the EPA's industrial chemistry branch.

This year's competition was particularly tough, she said. About 100 applications come into the agency each year.

One of the ADM honors was for the enzymatic interesterification for the production of no-trans fats and oils. In plain English, the process creates a trans fat-free oil without creating the usual pollutant byproducts, Matlock said. ADM worked with another company, Novozymes North America Inc., on the project.

The product comes in good timing, as the government prepares to enforce the labeling of trans fats on food items. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels, and many ADM customers want to bring their trans fats numbers down as low as possible, Matlock said.

The other honor was for an innovation called Archer RC, which reduces the amount of volatile organic compounds emissions from latex paint, improving air quality.

"Instead of the solvent evaporating, it actually hardens and becomes part of the coating," Matlock said. "It's made from vegetable oil, so it's a renewable resource as well."

In addition, Metabolix Inc., which formed an alliance with ADM in the fall, also took home an award for innovation in its biodegradable plastic production.

Green Chemistry awards have acknowledged innovations from businesses and academic researchers for the past decade. Reducing waste, creating safer products and reducing the use of energy and resources are all goals of the program.

An anonymous and independent panel of scientists, led by the American Chemical Society, judges the technical reports submitted by participants.

Matlock said ADM's bent toward developing eco-friendly technologies is also good business sense. In the case of the trans fats technology, for example, waste isn't created and that makes the process less expensive overall.

"It's not only good for the environment, it also reduces your cost," he said. "Green chemistry is also good business."

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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