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Economics, Safety and Green Chemistry

Posted on September 22nd, 2017 by in Chemical R&D


“Going green” is a laudable goal in industry. Looking at the impact of the human industrial activity on the environment, it’s clear that companies must become more conscious of their footprint and take steps towards sustainability. However, it’s not enough to just state a general intention to “go green”. Even a very ambitious and well-thought-out strategy for advancing sustainable chemistry could fail if the impact on other aspects of the business is not considered.

In a recent interview, chemical industry expert John Parks of Technechem LLC discusses his work in ensuring the economic viability and safety of chemical processes when he previously worked at Albemarle. Parks also explains that safety and economic viability, rather than “greenness”, were typically the two most important concerns to his clients and therefore his top priority. However, he states that they are in essence also green concerns.

For instance, Parks points out that developing an efficient process that does not produce as much waste is good for both the environment and for your bottom line. Similarly, shorter reaction times are better both environmentally and financially, because longer reactions require more energy and have greater costs due to equipment demands. This just drives home the point that pursuing greener processes is not only about being environmentally friendly—it’s about good business.

Parks advises that teams working on process design always put economic concerns first. As mentioned, it does connect directly to green issues. Furthermore, the customer won’t see the benefit of greening their processes and products if no one is willing to pay more to buy them. It’s best to evaluate those two concerns together to find the best overall solution for the company and the environment.

Read the interview to learn more: Economic Decisions in Chemical Process Optimization Support Green Chemistry Goals.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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