As the American Chemicals Society says, “Chemistry—in labs, classrooms, and industry—is a central science for the development of sustainable technologies and innovations.” Sustainability is more than just the latest buzzword when it comes to chemicals; it may just be the future of the entire industry.
The Industry’s View on Sustainability
As it turns out, moving towards a more eco-focused, sustainable way of business is not a new concept for the greater chemicals industry. According to a study by a biomedical technology company in 2013, over 71% of chemical manufacturers said they have a sustainability plan in place. The same percentage reported having customers that expressed specific interest in sustainable chemicals, particularly bio-based alternatives to commonly used petroleum products.
What is “Green Chemistry?”
Sustainable chemistry or “green chemistry,” as it’s colloquially known, is defined by 12 core principles. It’s described by the US EPA as the “design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances.” The US markets predict the growth in demand for green chemicals will outpace growth in the traditional chemical sector. The shift is attributed to both an increase in consumer demand for eco-conscious products as well as tightening regulations globally concerning what’s safe, allowable, and ethical. The rising cost of fossil fuels – essential for thousands of commonplace chemical processes – is also deepening the search for more cost-effective methods of production.
The Sectors Where Sustainability Matters
Industry experts predict that the shift to sustainable chemistry will likely be a boon for small- to medium-sized chemical suppliers. Able to service niches more effectively than big-box chemical brands, specialization is up among custom chemical suppliers worldwide. The industries that are most immediately in need of sustainable alternatives (and not coincidentally, where many of the most intriguing advancements are being made) include feedstock and cleaning products.
It’s important that global chemical suppliers keep up with the rising demand for more sustainable materials and processing. Labs, research facilities, and commercial end-users will look to chemical manufacturers for assistance in developing cost-effective ways to produce and utilize organic and bio-sourced chemical compounds. The change is a positive one, both for the future of the industry as well as the planet.