Parallel Session 3: Resource Efficient and Sustainable Chemistry

Sustainable chemistry is a future guiding principle. The concept addresses the cross-cutting relationship of chemicals and their management, playing roles in climate, health, industry, and agriculture.

Dr Thomas Jakl, Deputy Director General of the Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Austria, introduced the Chemical Leasing business model and its two main goals: to raise awareness of green chemistry, and to introduce chemical policy to contribute towards achieving a circular economy. The model highlights a profound switch of the term ‘using the right chemicals’ to ‘using chemicals right’, sparking much needed political debate into promoting efficient use of chemicals, and the removal of a service-centred, economic approach to chemical use.

Successful chemical leasing outcomes rely on the existence of preconditions. Accurate monitoring is needed to understand the efficiency of industrial chemical use, and a merge of product and process design thinking must also occur.

Gabriela Eigenmann, the Senior Industrial Development Officer at the Department of Environment/Industrial Resource Efficiency Division, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), spoke about working with countries to achieve sustainable industry development. UNIDO strives to provide advice on, gauge research in, and develop standards regarding sustainable chemical use.

Eigenmann owes their success to adopting a methodology which trains people to implement sustainable chemical management by looking to enhance material and energy efficiency, and identify innovation needed. In turn, projects have seen economic benefits by way of increases in productivity, and social benefits in the improvement of working conditions.

Further discussion involved the Global Green Chemical Initiative. The program focusses on multilateral environmental agreements, prioritising finding alternatives to POPs, mercury and microplastics, whose inclusion prevents circular reuse and recycling processes. A need to accelerate the initiative was highlighted, with Eigennmann suggesting innovations from startups are the way forward.

Rachel Fishman, University of Bristol, UK