Parallel Session 3: Towards resource efficient and sustainable chemistry

Chemicals are everywhere –  which is why a sound management of chemicals is one of the main cross-cutting issues not only for resource efficiency, but also towards achieving a sustainable development. Parallel Session 3 discussed this link focusing on innovation in production processes and business models as a main driver for the green transition of industries producing and using chemicals.

Dr. Thomas Jakl, Deputy Director General at Austria’s Ministry for Climate Action, put it this way: “Nobody wants to own a chemical product, but we appreciate the service it provides us”. So why don’t we reflect this in the relationship between consumer and producer? That is the approach used by chemical leasing, a business model based on the value of the service a chemical provides us. This service-based business model follows the main goal of integrating renewability and substitution in chemistry policy for resource efficiency and has also been reflected in the recently adopted EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. Dr. Jakl identified accurate monitoring and clear exchange of information as key success factors, which at the same time are prerequisites for compliance.

The second speaker of the session, Gabriela Eigenmann, Senior Industrial Development Officer at UNIDO, introduced us to the organisation’s contributions towards resource efficiency by working with small and medium enterprises. She identified innovative technology solutions, innovative business models and green chemistry as the three main elements for achieving a sustainable chemicals management. In projects conducted with partners in a number of countries from different regions, innovative practices were identified and applied with the aim of increasing material and energy efficiency across sectors. After all, sustainable chemistry management can not only contribute to resource efficiency, but also ensure occupational safety and circularity in products and plays an essential role in transitioning to a circular economy.

The difficult challenge of people changing their way of life, taking into account the importance of sufficiency and the use of sustainable products, has been at the centre of the discussion. Producers, on the other hand, need to be able to continuously exchange innovative examples and learn with each other.

Rebecca Harms, University of Erfurt, Germany