How can Safe and Sustainable-by-Design boost innovation and growth in Europe?

News : Safe and Sustainable-by-Design: Boosting innovation and growth within the European chemical industry

Accelerating development of Safe and Sustainable-by-Design (SSbD) chemicals is one of the growth opportunities for the chemical industry under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. But what does Safe and Sustainable-by-Design exactly mean and how can we leverage this opportunity? In our new paper “Safe and Sustainable-by-Design: Boosting innovation and growth within the European chemical industry” we are launching a conversation to find answers to these questions.

Ann Dierckx, Cefic Sustainabiltiy Director, says “The EU Green Deal, the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the Circular Economy Action plan, and the EU Climate Law all require an innovative, forward-looking approach to chemistry based on the concept of Safe and Sustainable-by-Design substances and materials. It is the way to get us there”.

The chemical industry defines Safe and Sustainable-by-Design as “a process to innovate and put on the market chemicals, materials, products and technologies that are safe and deliver environmental, societal, and/or economical value through their applications. Those chemicals, materials, products and technologies enable accelerating the transition towards a circular economy and climate-neutral society and preventing harm to human health and the environment throughout the life cycle.”

This is consistent with the vision of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the objectives of the European Green Deal. The Safe and Sustainable-by-Design concept can become a mobilising power that creates a strong business case, helps drive innovation and attracts investments in the chemical sector.

Many companies have already got a head start in developing Safe and Sustainable-by-Design chemicals, with various projects already underway in many sectors, from the fashion industry to building insulation and hygiene products.

But what we need is not an action by only few industry champions. We need a set of policy measures to support industry-wide mobilisation towards SSbD. The policies can help create markets for SSbD chemicals and turn this into a viable business opportunity. Developing and agreeing on harmonised criteria for such chemicals and an assessment framework, an effort initiated and led by the European Commission, is a crucial first step in this process.

Building on the decades of experience with product portfolios, the chemical industry has already developed a first proposal towards such an assessment framework. The proposed process involves four steps to identify criteria that can be used to assess the impact of a new or alternative process or product throughout the R&D stage.   

Which four steps are crucial for the development phase? Read our safe and sustainable-by-design report to find out.

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