By 2020, the global “green” chemical market is expected to reach $100billion, while the North American market will increase from $3 billion to more than $20 billion in the same period. This growth is crucial to the future of our planet, which shows that the oil industry is undergoing much-needed changes. Today, 8.3 per cent of the world’s deaths and 5.7 per cent of the total burden of disease are related to exposure to chemicals.
With the increasing attention to sustainable chemistry, the public expects companies to ensure that new chemical products and chemical products already in the company’s portfolio are more environmentally friendly. This pressure is particularly strong for chemists, because the words “green” and “chemical” are not usually put together. In fact, the view today is that the chemical industry is not doing enough to promote safe chemistry, although a series of important and interesting work is being done in this area.
Voice of the industry
The challenge prompted Elsevier to convene a series of experts at the second green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Berlin last year. The round table gave industry leaders from Dow Chemical, DuPont, Merck and covestro an opportunity to discuss what is “green” and “sustainable” for their organizations; And how the industry can do more to promote important work in this area, including raising awareness of better chemistry. Each team member has brought a unique view, but they agree that the chemical industry needs to improve the way sustainable chemistry is being discussed and continue to encourage new innovations.
The dialogue provided five key areas, which all participants believed were essential to promoting sustainable development in the chemical industry:
Green chemistry needs to anticipate the problems it will solve. For example, if the role of chemistry is not taken into account, industrial efforts cannot be aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – so sustainable chemistry needs to consider the upcoming regulatory challenges.
Green chemistry should not be designed to prove the negative view of other chemical elements. Instead, it should focus on how to innovate in the chemical industry and position itself as the next step forward.
Break the green chemistry shaft. Sustainability is about how users experience products and how they recycle and process them – the industry needs to study how products work in a customer environment, because customers ultimately drive business growth.
The cycle economy is included in the product life cycle. Chemical innovation is an interdisciplinary effort; Co creation of sustainable products is a good opportunity to promote better chemistry as the core of cutting-edge material technology.
Inform the public and demonstrate the value of safe, sustainable chemistry. Ensure that the public understands why a product is more sustainable than a traditional alternative and what it means to consumers, the environment and the industry in practice.