Importance of Green and Sustainable Chemistry in the Chemical Industry


Chemistry is all around us, contributing significantly to almost all aspects of life. According to the Chemical Industry Journal, the sector’s GDP contributes to the global economic output to the tune of around $5.7 trillion. Chemistry raises our living standards in a variety of ways, from providing fertilisers and agrochemicals to boost our food supply facilitating better nutrition, to allowing for greater cleanliness as well as a plethora of treatments that increase life expectancy and quality of life.

While Chemistry serves to improve our quality of life, manufacturing operations and processes can also be responsible for negative environmental impacts. As a result, it is critical to pay attention to the manufacturing processes that are being used in the chemical industry. To help raise awareness and accountability in the industry, some sustainable principles and requirements have been introduced.

Let’s first understand what green and sustainable chemistry is:

What is Green and Sustainable Chemistry?

Green Chemistry: According to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), green chemistry is closely related to the “design of chemical products and processes that particularly eliminate the use or generation of substances hazardous to humans, animals, plants, and the environment.” Green chemistry has 12 principles that guide how a chemical should be produced and used in a green and sustainable way, reducing pollution.

Sustainable Chemistry: According to the OECD, sustainable chemistry is a scientific concept that seeks to improve the efficiency with which natural resources are used to meet human needs for chemical products and services. Sustainable chemistry encompasses the design, manufacture, and use of efficient, effective, safe, and more environmentally benign chemical products and processes.

Why is Green and Sustainable Chemistry Important for the Chemical Industry?

Aside from its great contribution to making the world a better place, the chemical industry is also a huge contributor to the depletion of Earth’s natural resources. According to the International Energy Agency, the chemical sector is the largest consumer of oil and gas. According to the Guardian, the chemical sector is the largest consumer of oil and gas and has the third-largest carbon footprint.

In fact, only half of the fossil fuels that the industry consumes are burned for energy. The by-product is utilised as feedstock for products such as plastics, with emissions released only when the product is nearing the end of its life cycle. This continuous release of hazardous emissions pollutes the ecosystem. This is just one way the chemical sector is contributing to air pollution. It is also responsible for ocean pollution to a great extent and, therefore, sustainability is becoming more important in the chemical industry, both from a social and environmental perspective.

Because the chemical industry is so huge and complicated, reducing or even cutting emissions is a technically difficult task, though it is still achievable. With rising product demand, there is a greater need to develop sustainable processes. Global nations and markets have now joined forces to work on diverse measures to cut their carbon footprints, all with the same aim in mind. Some countries have imposed strict rules on the business, while others are encouraging the use of cleaner and more efficient chemicals during the manufacturing process. There are a lot of sustainable practices that the industry and businesses can follow to curb the pollution the sector is creating.

How Chemwatch can help?

If you want to know more about the environmental and health effects of chemicals, or how to minimise risk while working with chemicals, we’re here to help. We have tools to help you with mandatory reporting, as well as generating SDS and Risk Assessments. We also have a library of webinars covering global safety regulations, software training, accredited courses, and labelling requirements. For more information, contact us today!


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