What is Sustainable Chemistry?
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) defines sustainable chemistry as:
"Sustainable chemistry … seeks to improve the efficiency with which natural resources are used to meet human needs for chemical products and services. Sustainable chemistry encompasses the design, manufacture and use of efficient, effective, safe and more environmentally benign chemical products and processes.
Sustainable chemistry … stimulates innovation across all sectors to design and discover new chemicals, production processes, and product stewardship practices that will provide increased performance and increased value while meeting the goals of protecting and enhancing human health and the environment.”
Essentially sustainable chemistry is about doing more with less: reducing the environmental impact of processes and products, optimising the use of finite resources and minimising waste.
Sustainable chemistry can ensure eco-efficiency in everything we do, both individually and as a society. Sustainable chemistry also means protecting and extending employment, expertise and quality of life. It provides a sustainable basis for the innovation needed to stimulate a competitive, knowledge-based, enterprise-led economy across Europe.
But solutions provided by sustainable chemistry must also be acceptable to society: they must be trusted and what society wants and needs.
SusChem and sustainable chemistry
SusChem strives to follow the three axes of sustainability in everything we do:
- People – a focus on the needs of society
- Planet – a focus on care for the environment
- Profit – a focus on sustainable creation of wealth
In practice this means that SusChem projects and programmes should address clear societal needs and be environmentally sound and economically viable.
Sustainability and competitiveness are strategic priorities for SusChem. Progress on sustainability, competitiveness and environment protection are intimately linked; chemical products and chemistry-driven technological advances provide critical answers and ensure the sustainable development of modern societies.
The chemical industry, being a critical element of most value chains and supplying its products to all sectors of the economy, is at the forefront of the transition to a more sustainable development; the move towards increased sustainability requires developments that entail the knowledge and competences present in the European chemical sector and within its networks.
Chemistry for a sustainable future
Sustainable chemistry has a huge part to play in solving society’s current and future challenges. These challenges include meeting future energy needs, making best use of essential raw materials or finding substitutes, helping our urban areas to be better places to live and ensuring everyone has enough food to eat and clean water to drink.
SusChem believes that sustainable chemistry can help inspire the change of pace and mindset that is needed to make the vision of a sustainable, smart and inclusive society a reality.
To read more about the possibilities for sustainable chemistry take a look at Cefic's ‘Tomorrow starts with chemistry’