First Takes: UPS Adds 100 Electric Trucks, Defining 'Natural,' and More...

First Takes: UPS Adds 100 Electric Trucks, Defining 'Natural,' and More...

UPS truck image CC-licensed by zyphbear/Flickr

• Electrified Delivery: UPS is adding onto its green fleet with the purchase of 100 all-electric delivery vehicles for use in California. The vehicles, from Electric Vehicles International, will replace diesel-engine trucks. UPS currently has 28 other all-electric vehicles in New York City and Europe, and also has a number of hybrid-electric vehicles and trucks that run on compressed natural gas or other alternative fuels.

• Struggle for Rare Earths: China plans to appeal a World Trade Organization decision that it should lift its restrictions on the exportation of rare earth metals. China argued that its export taxes and quotas are necessary for environmental reasons: To conserve resources and reduce emissions. Yet the EU and U.S. argued the restrictions led to rare earths being cheap and readily available for companies working in China. The country produces more than 90 percent of rare earth metals, used in numerous electronics, hybrid vehicles, CFLs, magnets and more.

• Moving for Material Access: But some companies aren't waiting to see if China drops its policies and have been building factories in the country to gain cheaper access to the metals they need. “We saw the writing on the wall — we simply bought the equipment and ramped up in China to begin with,” Mike Pugh, director of worldwide operations for Intematix, told the New York Times.

• Mixing Up a Green IPO: Genomatica, a chemical company that turns sugars and biomass from crops and grasses into common chemicals, filed plans yesterday for an IPO, aiming to raise $100 million. The company's main focus so far has been on making bio-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO), widely used in auto-part plastics, spandex and many more items. Genomatica's S-1 filing shows that the company has yet to bring in any revenue from chemical sales, though it has also not yet started commercial production of its bio-BDO.

• What's in a Name?: Because the word "natural" hasn't been defined by the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Trade Commission, it's been made meaningless by its proliferation on product packaging. But a lawsuit aimed at ConAgra's Wesson brand of cooking oils says the use of "natural" on Wesson bottles is deceptive due to something that is defined and used in the oils: genetically-modified organisms. One example given by the lawsuit is Monsanto's definition of GMOs, "Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs." 

UPS truck image CC-licensed by zyphbear/Flickr

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