Green chemistry is defined as a process or product that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances from chemical products and processes. Ecology Coatings was nominated based on its GRAS (generally regarded as safe) coatings, which can be applied to food or used in food packaging. Ecology's GRAS coatings not only protect food from outside elements, but are safe for human consumption, as they use natural ingredients and do not contain plastics or other chemicals derived from fossil fuels.
As Ecology Coatings' technology is novel and unique, the company filed a WCT patent application for its GRAS coatings technology. In May 2011, the U.S. Patent Office agreed that the claims made by Ecology were indeed novel, non-obvious and has industrial utility, corroborating the unique nature of the technology. Ecology has filed for accelerated patent approval, which is expected in 2012.
Ecology's GRAS coatings are cured at a very rapid rate resulting in a coating with barrier properties to air, solvents, water or grease. Potential uses include coatings for food packaging, wrappings for meat, snack foods and pet food packaging. Since the coating will resist grease, food will be presented in a cleaner, more appealing and cost effective package.
UV curable inks and coatings are used on many types of food packaging, including cereal boxes. Photoinitiators from these coatings have been found as adulterants in food. The substitution of a GRAS photoinitiator will alleviate this problem.
"Our development of and the public's demand for sustainable materials in the manufacture and packaging of consumer products can open the door to growth, jobs and a healthier environment," said Ecology Coatings CEO Bob Crockett commented. Crockett went on to mention a recent Pike Research study projecting the green chemistry market will grow from $2.8 billion in 2011 to $98.5 billion by 2020. The recent EPA's Presidential Green Chemistry Award to Sherwin Williams is an example of that growth.