Green chemistry is “great chemistry that meets cost and performance requirements that just happens to be green!”
Steelcase hosted the 12th annual Green Chemistry and Commerce Council Roundtable (GC3) in Grand Rapids Michigan. This year’s conference was exceptional. From the keynote speakers to the breakout sessions, the atmosphere was one of optimism, opportunity and progress.
One of the objectives of the conference was to find ways to scale green chemistry and identify the role the GC3 could play to support the initiative. I think they are already doing a terrific job and are well on their way to making this a reality. For example, they have
- Promoted innovation by hosting a challenge to find safer preservatives
- Convened a bio-based start up network
- Catalyzed the adoption of safer alternatives through the GC3 Retailer Leadership Council
There were many insights to be gleaned over the 3 days, but I keep mulling over three. Two of the three are definitely opportunities that can scale green chemistry.
1. There are plenty of green chemistry solutions and successes
Green chemistry is gaining momentum. Scientists from large companies such as Covestro, Proctor and Gamble and Dow already implement the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry when they make new molecules.
Bio refineries are making new feedstocks from renewable resources such as sugar rather than from petroleum. These renewable feedstocks can then be used to make a myriad of other chemicals. For example, BioAmber is making bio-based succinic acid which is used to make polyurethanes, paints, coatings and artificial leather.
InKemia is making Safer solvents that can replace hazardous alternatives, which is encouraging given that the EPA has identified seven solvents that will be assessed under TSCA reform. Some startups are even making new chemicals from waste streams such as methane gas.
2. Pivot the conversation
One of the reasons many green chemical solutions are not being adopted more quickly is because of the way they are presented and marketed. The emphasis is on efficiency, sustainability and green chemistry.
Perhaps the conversation to scale green chemistry should be pivoted to emphasize great new chemicals that meet cost and quality requirements that happen to be green rather than great new green chemicals. Cost and quality trumps sustainability!
3. Create new business models such as an integrated value chain
An integrated value chain is “the process in which multiple enterprises within a shared market work together to optimize the efficiency of the value chain, creating a competitive advantage for all stakeholders involved.”
This is perhaps the biggest opportunity of all. If we can get the stakeholders in one room, just imagine the potential. In order to scale green chemistry, we must:
- Link demand with supply
- Connect seekers to providers and
- Relook at the cost equation
Impacts to your business
Questions to consider:
- How are you addressing sustainable chemicals and safer products?
- 84% of consumers say if given a choice they will buy more sustainable products. Are you one of them?
For help with any issue associated with chemicals, contact Amanda Cattermole at (415) 412 8406 or Amanda@cattermoleconsulting.com. We can help you develop powerful solutions to protect your company and brand reputation and result in safer products manufactured in cleaner supply chains.
Tips and Insights contains information to help you make informed chemical management decisions. Each post highlights a particular topic and includes questions you may want to consider for your business.