Future chemistry: the new challenges of the industry for sustainability

A cleaner, more efficient and sustainable production: this is how the sector and the science of matter try to turn towards a green future

Future Chemistry: Green Chemistry
Green chemistry aims to reduce the environmental impact of industry and improve human health (Photo: Pexels)

La chemistry it is an omnipresent force in our daily lives, from energy production to food products, from textiles to construction, to medicine. But the industry has a great responsibility towards consumers, workers and thetechnology, and has to face several challenges to move towards a future more sustainable.

Indeed, there is no doubt that the sustainability has become a driving force in many industries, from fashion to energy, and chemistry is no exception. On the contrary, it represents one of the most important sectors to address the environmental challenges of our time and can become an important ally. Let's go deeper.

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Future Chemistry: Chemicals
From raw materials to packaging, there are many challenges chemistry faces to reduce its environmental impact (Photo: iStock)

Greener products and less waste released

In recent years, there have been many initiatives aimed at making thechemical industry more sustainable. 

The first challenge that the sector has to face certainly concerns the reduction of the environmental impact of chemical products. Whether it's household products or medicines, these products can have a significant negative impact on the environment. For this reason research and development di technologies cleaner and more efficient production processes is one of the areas where there is growing interest from industry experts. 

Then there is the problem of waste management. L'chemical industry is responsible for the production of a large amount of waste, including production waste, packaging and unused products, which are often difficult to dispose of due to their polluting potential. It therefore becomes necessary to improve the efficiency of production processes and use recyclable materials where possible.

Raw materials are also a problem, as large amounts of energy and materials are required, which can lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of natural habitats.

Finally, it should also be mentioned human health: future chemistry cannot in fact neglect safety for consumers and workers. It is precisely to solve some of these problems, and to respond to the needs of consumers who are clamoring for greener products, that the green chemistry

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future chemistry: scientists
Experts are already working to make the chemistry of the future more sustainable and environmentally conscious (Photo: Pexels)

From branch to system: the future of chemistry is green

Talk of green chemistry began in the early 2000s but only recently has green chemistry been conceived no longer as a branch of the sector but as a necessary and inevitable systemic change. But let's take a step back. What is meant by green chemistry?

Green chemistry, or sustainable chemistry, is an approach to chemistry that aims to achieve chemical products and materials using environmentally sustainable processes. In this way, the use of dangerous substances is minimized and the environmental impact of the production processes is reduced.

The main goal of green chemistry is to reduce theenvironmental impact of the industry and improve the human health and that of the environment. As? Following certain fundamental principles, which have been developed by the scientific community to guide the industry towards this very goal.

Some of these principles include the use of renewable raw materials, the design of safer products, the adoption of low-emission technologies and the reduction of the use of toxic solvents.

But if initially green chemistry was a niche sector, in recent years various experts have started to indicate it as the future of the entire industry.

In a 2020 article published in the scientific journal Science, a group of researchers from various international universities stated that "The sustainability requires green chemistry and green engineering to be done systematically, because that is simply the future norm of all chemistry”.

The scientists added that the sector must not repeat the mistakes of the past and that the properties of molecules must be considered at an early stage and include considerations of their potential impacts throughout the life cycle, rather than focusing solely on their function.

In other words, future chemistry must move towards processes that are renewable, healthy and persistent.

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Future Chemistry: Plant Materials
One of the areas of interest from the industry is the use of raw materials of plant origin (Photo: Pexels)

Towards new technologies and sustainability standards

The challenge for the chemical sector it is perhaps more complex than for other industries, but certainly not impossible.

Today the chemical industry is already making great efforts to meet the challenges of sustainability, adopting a series of measures to reduce the environmental impact of its products and processes.

An example? Industry associations are working to incentivize the production of safer and more sustainable chemicals, using more efficient processes and renewable, less toxic raw materials. Adopting low-emission technologies and optimizing the use of water and energy is also an important strategy to reduceenvironmental impact.

But that's not all: the industry is also adopting practices of waste management more be sustainable, such as recycling, energy recovery and source reduction. They are also increasing partnerships with other sectors and governments to achieve common goals sustainability, promoting the circular economy and reducing the impact of chemistry ontechnology.

A separate mention deserve them sustainability standards, a certification system to ensure that production processes are managed responsibly and sustainably. Together, these measures are working to propel the chemical industry into a greener future.

But the initiative of individual companies should not be overlooked: each activity can, in its small way, do something to reduce its environmental impact. It is the case of New Chemical, an important reality in the surface treatment sector. New Chemical has decided to focus on sustainability and on high quality raw materials for its products. The company has thus decided to favor surfactants of vegetable origin to create highly biodegradable detergents.

Whether it's the initiative of individuals or a system change, the sustainable chemistry is the key to dealing with environmental challenges of our time and to ensure a better future for future generations.

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Future Chemistry: Sustainability
Sustainability will have to encompass the entire chemical sector in the future, according to experts (Photo: iStock)