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Sustainable Chemistry

Sustainable Chemistry facilitates the needs of the present – without compromising the ecological, social and economic needs of future generations

The chemical sector consumes 10% of the world's total energy and contributes to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions.
90% of global production depends on chemical products.[1][2][3]
The chemical industry and downstream sectors using chemicals and materials touch nearly every manufacturing and service sector worldwide and are deeply connected with humanity's way of living.

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The transformation towards sustainability is key to meet existential global challenges like e.g. climate change, inequality, and scarcity of resources.

To achieve the aims of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda (SDGs), a rethink is needed in the chemical industry and related sectors:
  • a circular economy that is striving to implement multifaceted aspects of sustainability at every step of the life cycle of products and
  • changing all stakeholder behavior.

Sustainable Chemistry goes beyond the full life cycle of products (development, manufacturing, use, repair, reuse and recycling), by including system thinking throughout (e.g. replace specific chemical function by service, new design or both). This ensures that processes contribute not only to an increase in economic efficiency but also to a reduction of negative impacts on the environment and human health, while at the same time improving social responsibility through sustainble development and innovation.

More in-depth information on our understanding of Sustainable Chemistry, its key characteristics incl. system thinking and how it differs from Green Chemistry can be found in our publication:

Sustainable Chemistry - Towards a Common Understanding

Key Characteristics of Sustainable Chemistry

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Sustainable Chemistry makes a critical contribution to achieving the aims of all SDGs.

E SDG Poster 2019_without UN emblem_PRINT

Examples include:

SDG 3 - Health and well-being:
  • Pursues the aim of reducing deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030
SDG 5 - Gender equality:
  • The contribution of sustainable chemistry for gender equality ranges, among others, from the dissemination of information on gender-specific effects of chemical substances, gender-specific exposure and risks, to gender-specific chemical safety.
SDG 12 - Sustainable consumption, and production:
  • Sustainable and efficient use of natural resources.
  • Environmentally sound management of chemicals and all waste throughout the life cycle.
  • Support developing countries and countries with economies in transition to more sustainable consumption and production patterns.
SDG 13 - Climate action:
  • Minimises environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gases, during the life cycle of products and thus contributes to climate protection.
  • Provides education and raises awareness to mitigate climate change.


[1] Fischedick M., Roy J.:
Industry, IPCC Report, Chapter 10,  https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter10.pdf

[2] Fischedick, M., Roy, J., Abdel-Aziz, A., Acquaye, A., Allwood, J., Ceron, J.-P., Geng, Y., Kheshgi, H.:
Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, Chapter 10 - Industry, IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5, Cambridge University Press, 2014

[3] Gomme J., Jungermann U.:
SDG Sektor Roadmaps: Leveraging the power of sectoral collaboration to drive transformation in line with the SDGs, World Business Council for sustainable Development, Genf, 2018 

Read more about Sustainable Chemistry

Key Characteristics of Sustainable Chemistry

Key Characteristics of Sustainable Chemistry

The ongoing international debate on Sustainable Chemistry shows that the expectations towards Sustainable Chemistry differ between the stakeholder gro...