Innovation Agent blog: 4 key drivers behind sustainable chemistry

Innovation Agent blog: 4 key drivers behind sustainable chemistry

Chemicals, industry, manufacturing… they are all words far from the concept of sustainability in the public opinion, and probably in your mind. But what if I say that something is changing?

At the current state of our product creation, the challenge to become “sustainable” is huge for the chemical industry. On one side, this sector is still reliant on fossil fuels, both as energy source and as raw materials. In addition, chemistry businesses face higher innovation barriers than other sectors (e.g. high investments since low TRL phase, a sector traditionally not comfortable with risk, regulatory and bureaucratic barriers). On the other hand, the wealth of our society relies on chemicals and chemical processes, and new technologies and products are the key towards future profitability for the sector.  

Protests in Delhi - Creator: ANUSHREE FADNAVIS | Credit: REUTERS

Here are just few of the main drivers towards sustainability that businesses should keep an eye on, to be active players in the transition, and even take advantage from early adaptations. 

-         Social movements and protests against pollution are rising everywhere in the world. It is growing a demand for more social responsibility from the chemical sector. 

-         New Western generation of workforce increasingly prefers to work for companies that benefit society, creating the concept of stakeholders. 

-         Policy changes will follow the public opinion, adopting increasingly stricter measures. E.g. more than 40 countries have already adopted carbon taxes or joined CO2 cap-and-trade programs. Carbon Dioxide Removal initiatives become central to many companies survival, and simultaneously an opportunity for novel solutions.

-         In 2020 Larry Flink (CEO BlackRock) declared: “In the near future there will be a significant reallocation of capital to address the climate threat.” This is another key observation to keep in mind of when discussing business opportunities for the chemical sector, especially for scale-ups and SMEs.

Today we face the necessity to move away from processes that are environmentally destructive and move towards processes, materials, energy and habits that protect our planet: a tsunami for the current business model. There are already some corporates that are trying to integrate principles of circularity in their global operations, such as DuPont or DSM. However, closely following these forerunners, it is the time for SMEs, scale-ups and start-ups to invent and scale novel processes, towards the green and renewable chemicals of the future.

Who will be the new DuPont or DSM?

DSM offices on the Poststraat in Sittard (NL)- Creator: Tibor CC BY-SA 4.0

ACN & Marco Tibaldi

Amsterdam Chemistry Network is a partnership between knowledge institutes and chemistry related businesses in the metropolitan region of Amsterdam. As operations manager, I find myself at the center of this complicated ecosystem. In case that your interests involve research, product development, business relationships and or support for a more sustainable chemistry solution, I can provide access to the appropriate partners. Ideally, let us make contact for potential future collaboration with you. Marco Tibaldi, Amsterdam Chemistry Network, marco@acnetwork.nl

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