Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Renminbi Talks: More US Companies Use Chinese Currency

Europeans have been increasingly using Chinese currency for international deals for years. But now U.S. companies are more frequently using the renminbi (RMB). In a notable trend, usage by U.S. companies has nearly doubled in the past year, says an HSBC study reported in Treasury & Risk.
renminbi talks

Usage of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) has nearly doubled in the past year.

The study polled 1,304 financial decision-makers at:
  1. companies that do business in mainland China and 
  2. companies in China that do business abroad. 
Among U.S. companies, 17 percent said they now do business in RMB, almost twice the 9 percent who said they did business in RMB last year.

French and German companies were much more likely to use RMB (26 percent and 23 percent, respectively), according to the study.

“We’re seeing a lot more interest in the RMB; people are understanding more about how the RMB trades and the liquidity,” said Martin Brown, executive vice president and head of large corporate banking at HSBC, speaking to Treasury & Risk.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Important reminder for PIC exporters: new submission protocol

Starting March 1, 2014, new rules concerning export and import of hazardous chemicals were implemented in Europe. The revised Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation has gone into effect.

PIC regulates the import and export of very hazardous chemicals between the European Union and third countries, and implements the global Rotterdam Convention within the EU.

New submission PIC

The new submission system is called ePIC. Data you might need to migrate includes:
  1. export notifications
  2. special RIN requests
  3. details on mixtures and articles
In order to migrate data from the European Database of Export and Import of Dangerous Chemicals or EDEXIM to ePIC, some prep should be done.

The "ownership" of data must be digitally assigned to your company using a unique identifier that is recognised by both systems. This Legal Entity Universal Unique Identifier (LE UUID) can be obtained from the REACH-IT application.

Participants are advised to log into EDEXIM to see detailed instructions and to provide your LE UUID no later than August 22, 2014.

Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation affects all European Union based companies involved with the export or import of chemicals or articles containing chemicals. It allows entities (EU nations, essentially) to monitor and control the international trade of certain dangerous chemicals. The aim of PIC regulation is to share information on dangerous chemicals, including how to store, transport, use and dispose of these chemicals safely.

Want more? Useful webinar

New webinar 

26 August 2014, 11:00 - 13:00 Helsinki Time (EEST, GMT+3)
Webinar provides an overview of the ePIC tool used by industry to meet their obligations under the Prior Informed Consent Regulation. It will cover basic aspects of the tool such as the interface, buttons, search functions and other features.
I might just meet you on that webinar.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Denmark's non-ban on phthalates

Denmark has dropped plans to ban phthalates outright.

Denmark had planned to ban the phthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP. But the European Commission has maintained that such a ban would go against EU rules.

Meanwhile, a verdict in an EU court case dealing with similar issues has led the Danish government to believe that a national ban would have to be repealed. No sense going to all the trouble of implementing such a rule if it would have to be repealed shortly after.
New Danish Environment Minister, Brosbøl

Back in autumn of 2012, the Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken said she'd risk going to court with the EU over the ban, that her nation had the right to protect its citizens. Let's be honest. It would be interesting to see that play out in court.

But not likely. There is a new Danish Environment Minister, Minister Brosbøl, pictured right – proving once again that yes, everyone in Denmark is in fact better looking than you. In addition, the new Danish regime has decided not to pursue the ban on phthalates.

Will Denmark ban phthalates? 

The general sense is that this whole "Denmark banning phthalates" episode will dissolve. Maybe the Danish ban was a publicity stunt mostly, to bring attention to the problem of phthalates. If so, it was a notable success.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What is Circular Economy?

To help people better understand the business case for a circular economy, please complete our short survey. That's the note I received from Guardian UK recently.

"Please answer a few questions for us, towards a more sustainable future for all," prompted the note. Thought I'd give it a try. Even though I'd never heard of a circular economy, how complicated could it be, thought I.

Unfortunately I did not understand the first question at all:

What is a serviced based model when it comes to packaging? Or medical equipment? I had no idea. So I ended up not contributing to the survey. But it did get my attention. I'm now thinking about a circular economy. A term I hadn't heard before.

Definition of circular economy  If you haven't heard of it either, a circular economy is like cradle-to-cradle and Design for Environment and Green Chemistry all in one. It's an industry term. The gist is that in a circular economy there's no such thing as waste. Period. Everything at the end of its intended use is ready to be used for the next thing. This represents a "closed loop" approach to production processes (and product materials). Hence the word circular.

For more on this, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has some good articles. I couldn't really figure out if Guardian UK was just trying to get some attention with that survey or if they're actually doing something with circular economic theory. That is, something different than what they already do vis-a-vis greener business and sustainability insight.

Turns out, Guardian has an entire sub-section of its news site dedicated to the subject. Check it out here. Well well, just when you think you know everything, it turns out you're clueless about a major approach to industrial process.

[Update: Regarding the quiz question above, goods can be delivered as services. Philips for example is leasing lighting to businesses. Rather than buy lights, say, you just pay for what you use while Philips handles the ownership. And that's what the quiz question from Guardian was driving at. Live and learn!]

Hope this was as enlightening for you as it was for me.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Are airlines about to lose $billions in exemptions?

International airlines are like flying tax havens inexplicably exempted from paying the basic taxes that every EU citizen and company is obliged to, said aviation policy officer Aoife O’Leary of the green campaigning group, Transport and Environment (T&E).

€32 billion a year is lost due to the airlines’ exemption from paying fuel taxes, while another €7.1bn vanishes into thin air because of VAT exemptions on international flight tickets, according to a new study by the group.

The issue of tax breaks for airlines is moving up the political agenda, says EurActiv.

It's hard to see inside forthcoming aviation policy in Europe from where I sit. But this is one to keep an eye on. If airlines lose significant portions of billions in tax exemptions, there will be notable consequences for global supply chains and logistics networks.

Friday, June 20, 2014

True costs of workplace injury

It's like an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is workman's compensation insurance, when an employee gets hurt. But are there other costs? Yes. Oh yes, according to the National Safety Council. Check out this informative infographic:

Here's an overview of the number:
An interesting profile/cost analysis indeed.
Courtesy of National Safety Council, visit their site for more info of this type.

Monday, June 16, 2014

EPA: alternatives for toxic flame retardants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing safer alternatives to the flame retardants now used in consumer and commercial products, including building insulation and products with flexible polyurethane foam.
Getting greener

Some flame retardant chemicals raise concerns for human health and the environment:
  1. hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) 
  2. pentabromodiphenyl ether (pentaBDE) 
EPA is releasing the final report on alternatives to the flame retardant HBCD and releasing an updated draft report on alternatives to the flame retardant pentaBDE.

The alternatives were identified through EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Alternatives Assessment Program.

"We will now have safer alternatives for use in our products from furniture to car seats to building insulation," said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

But even safer still...

Butadiene styrene brominated copolymer is identified as a safer alternative to HBCD used in polystyrene building insulation. It is currently in commercial production in the United States.

Oligomeric phosphonate polyol is identified as a safer alternative to pentaBDE. The pentaBDE report will help industry choose safer alternatives to meet product flammability standards for consumer products containing flexible polyurethane foam.

Information on the DfE Alternatives Assessment Program:

Information on the HBCD final report:

Information on the foam flame retardant draft update report:

Information on EPA’s efforts to better understand the risks of flame retardant chemicals: