15 July, 2007
The chemical industry is surely one of the key sectors of our global economy but has come under severe criticism in the last decennia because of the unsustainable trends of its products and production processes. The industry has been slow to react to consumers’ loss of confidence and has battled hard to ward off legislative efforts (e.g. the REACH legislation of the EU) to make it more safe and sustainable. But it seems, the industry is learning from its mistakes and is trying to turn things around. This seems like an absolute necessity as some of the solutions to the climate change/energy predicament we are facing will have to come from this global industry.
More than twenty years ago, the chemical industry set up a global “responsible care” campaign to introduce better and more environmentally-friendly practices into its operations. More recently the industry has started to design safer and greener alternatives, a trend known as “green or sustainable chemistry”. At European level, the EU has established a European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem).
The excellent Worldchanging.com website has published an outstanding piece on the latest developments on green chemistry, highlighting the chances and challenges of this new “revolution” in the chemical sector.
- Andrew King-Michael Lennox: Industry self-regulation without sanctions. The chemical industry’s responsible care programme, 2007 (critical analysis of the responsible care campaign)
- EurActiv: LinksDossier on Sustainable Chemistry