Why Sustainability Is the Future of the Chemical Industry


By 2020, the market for “green” chemistry is expected to reach $100 billion globally, with North America seeing an increase from $3 billion to over $20 billion during the same period. This growth, essential to the future of our planet, is a sign that the industry is engaged in much-needed change. Today, 8.3 percent of all deaths and 5.7 percent of the total burden of disease worldwide are related to chemical exposure.

With the increasing attention on sustainable chemistry, the public expects companies to ensure both new chemicals, and those already in a company’s portfolio, are more environmentally friendly. This pressure is especially intense on chemists because ‘green’ and ‘chemicals’ are not words that have typically gone together. In fact, the perception today is that the chemicals industry is not doing enough to promote safe chemistry, despite the range of vital and interesting work going on in this area.

The voice of the industry

This challenge led Elsevier to bring together a range of experts at the 2nd Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Berlin last year. The roundtable gave industry leaders from companies such as The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, Merck and Covestro a chance to debate what counts as ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ for their organizations; as well as how the industry as a whole can do more to promote the important work that is being done in this area – including raising awareness of better chemistry. The panelists each brought a unique perspective, but what they all agreed upon was that the chemical industry needs to improve how it talks about sustainable chemistry and continue to encourage new innovation.

The five principles

The conversation provided five key areas that all the panelists agreed were critical to inspiring a more sustainable chemical industry:

  1. Green chemistry needs to anticipate the problems it aims to solve. For example, aligning industry efforts with the UN Sustainable Development Goals cannot be done without looking at chemistry’s role – so sustainable chemistry needs to look at the regulatory challenges coming down the pipeline.
  2. Green chemistry should not aim to justify negative perceptions of other elements of chemistry. Instead it should focus on how to build upon the innovation of the chemicals industry and position itself as the next progressive step.
  3. Break down the green chemistry silo. Sustainability asks questions about how users experience products, and how they can recycle and dispose of them – the industry needs to look at how a product works in the customer context, since customers ultimately drive business growth.
  4. Involve the circular economy into the product life cycle. Chemical innovation is a cross-disciplinary effort; working collaboratively to create sustainable products is a great opportunity to promote the positives of better chemistry as the heart of cutting-edge materials technology.
  5. Inform the public and demonstrate the value of safe, sustainable chemistry. Ensure that the public understands why a product is more sustainable than conventional alternatives, and what this means practically for the consumer, the environment and the industry. (…)

Christina Välimäki

Makalenin tam metnine http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/chemistry_materials_packaging/christina_v%C3%A4lim%C3%A4ki/why_sustainability_future_chemical adresinden ulaşabilirsiniz.

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