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Towards Greener Manufacturing: Assessing the Alternatives

Posted on May 2nd, 2016 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


There are many good reasons why chemical companies are looking at transitioning to green manufacturing. A recent global survey of industry executives found that the reason most often cited was that the pursuit of sustainability initiatives can improve manufacturing processes by reducing energy and waste, and also by reducing or eliminating toxic chemicals.

The new article “Making the Switch to Green Chemicals in Manufacturing: Challenges and Opportunities” suggests that, given current environmental health and safety concerns, chemicals companies have three chief goals:

  1. Identify all the chemical substances in their materials and products
  2. Increase chemical transparency throughout the supply chain
  3. Determine which substances are toxic and can be replaced with safer substitutes

Actually finding suitable substitutions is a process that requires thorough assessment of the alternatives, to ensure that a toxic chemical isn’t replaced with something even worse.

A number of specialized methods have been created to identify potential dangers, such as the Chemical Hazard Assessment (CHA) and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). One of the newer approaches is the Chemical Alternatives Assessment (CAA), though there are a number of challenges associated with this method, which are enumerated in the article.

The CAA is a start, but technical decision-makers require more information on how its approaches meet various applications. There is a significant need for better access to data sources, especially those with information on toxicity and hazards.

The OECD has proposed several ideas to create a more harmonized approach to assessing the alternatives. As the article emphasizes, chemicals companies should have a systematic strategy for substituting undesirable chemicals with safer ones.

Read the article now to learn more about the opportunities and challenges chemical manufacturers face in the search for safer, greener substitutes.

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