From Green Chemistry and Engineering to a Holistic Sustainable Chemical Industry

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Prof. Krysztoff Urbaniec, Prof. Francisco J. Lozano, Prof. Jiri Klemes, Prof. Peter, Glavic, Dr. Paulo Freire, Dr. Angela Carpenter, Dr. Rodrigo Lozano

This document outlines the Call for Papers (Abstract submission is now closed) for presentations at the Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference: Accelerating the Transition to Equitable, Sustainable Post-Fossil-Carbon Societies, workshop, “From Green Chemistry and Engineering to a Holistic Sustainable Chemical Industry, to be held in Sitges, near Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 1 – 4, 2015.

In 1998, the global chemical industry was worth around US$1.5 trillion in sales and employed around 10 million people globally (OECD, 2001). By 2010, the global chemical industry – excluding pharmaceuticals – had increased its worth in global chemical sales to US$3.2 trillion, with the top 100 companies generating an estimated $1.23 trillion of those sales (Hartnell, 2011). It is estimated that by 2015 the global chemical market will be worth US$4.16 trillion (Meyer, 2011). For example, the chemical and petrochemical industries produce substantial amount of products and need also a considerable amount of resources (Klemeš, 2015). This has resulted in a complex network of chemical industries, which involves many diverse stakeholders, and has been mainly based on the economic return of marketing and selling chemicals.

The chemical industry has been highly innovative. The centennial anniversary of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers listed 100 market innovations related to chemicals, mainly developed by USA companies (Chemical Engineering Progress, 2008), and celebrated the innovation and importance that is representative of the profession.

Chemicals are used to make almost all man-made products, including many which can be used to protect crops and increase yields, prevent or cure disease, and to provide many benefits to improve people’s daily lives. According to Miller (2002), every year, 1,000 new synthetic chemicals enter the market, adding to the approximately 75,000 chemicals already commercially available. However, the health and environmental risks from the use of chemicals have long been recognized, for example carcinogenic effects (see Hayes, 1998, Tomatis et al. 1978, and Tolbert et al. 1992) and negative impacts on agriculture and forestry (see the seminal work of Rachel Carson (1962)). The environmentally unsustainable aspects of the chemical industry have been a result of how chemists and engineers have seen the industry and its relations to the economy, society and environment (Freire da Silva, 2014).

In the past decade, a number of international initiatives have been adopted to more safely produce, use and manage chemicals and to promote green and more sustainable chemistry. Some of these include the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) adopted in 2006, the EU Regulation on Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (European Commission), and other REACH-like regulations in China (see China Chemical Inspection and Regulation Service, 2011), together with actions in a number of countries to strengthen the regulation of chemicals (see Lozano, Carpenter, & Satric, 2013). A number of business models and approaches, such as UNIDO’s Chemical Leasing (UNIDO, 2011), have been developed. Additionally, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is supporting a recently created project named “Reaching Full Potential” aimed at developing a harmonized approach to corporate greenhouse gas accounting and reporting (WBCSD, 2015), while the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) has a clear commitment towards sustainability across the value chain (CEFIC, 2014).

Professional associations, such as the Institute of Chemical Engineers from United Kingdom (IChemE, 2015) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE, 2015), have been fostering several programmes and activities related to sustainable development. Some of the large chemical companies highlight their commitment towards sustainability, and are acting upon it, such as BASF, which established its Ecoefficiency analysis, Seebalance, and AgBalance. The challenge for them was to incorporate sustainability into their operations, management, research and development, and supply chains. Also Dow Chemical, Dupont, Akzo Nobel have made similar commitments. The challenge for them is to revamp their operations, management, research and development, while integrating these concepts into their value chain. The latter implies viewing chemistry and chemical engineering under a different light.  Additionally this is an important challenge to educators and researchers Higher Educational institutions to prepare the new professionals with broader, more holistically oriented challenges, skills and values. The implications for toxics use reduction, enhanced energy efficiency and societal transitions to post fossil carbon societies are inspiring for the whole chemical industry.

The principles of and approaches to Green Chemistry and Green Engineering were developed as guidelines to reduce or to prevent the use, or generation, of feed-stocks, products, by-products, solvents, reagents, or other hazardous chemicals that are, or might be, dangerous to human health or to the environment (Anastas & Breen, 1997). They were designed to prevent the production of toxic wastes before they were produced by considering the environmental impacts, or potential impacts, of raw materials, products or processes. Green chemistry is based upon twelve principles divided into five categories (waste minimisation, renewable resources, eco-efficiency, degradation, and health and safety) that are aimed at designing or modifying chemical reactions to be more environmentally friendly (Anastas and Zimmerman, 2003).

Sustainable chemistry is a concept linking preventative protection of the environment and health with an innovative economic strategy, which may result in more jobs, and is of concern to stakeholders across the scientific community, the economy, public authorities, and also environmental and consumer organisations (German Federal Environment Agency, 2013).

The chemical industry has to undertake structural technological changes towards more advanced states of environmental sustainability through profound changes in the way chemistry and engineering are perceived, designed and implemented (Freire da Silva, 2014). Similarly to green chemistry, the green engineering domain provides a “green” framework that approaches sustainability from an eco-effective design perspective by proposing a “conceptual shift away from current industrial system designs, which generate toxic, one-way, ‘cradle-to-grave’ material flows, toward the Circular Economy, a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ system powered by renewable energy in which materials flow in safe, regenerative, closed-loop cycles” (McDonough et al., 2003).

It should be noted that green chemistry/green engineering and sustainable chemistry/engineering are mainly directed at improving operations and production in a company and they need to be linked to the other elements of the company system (strategy and management, organisational systems, procurement and marketing, and assessment and communication) (see Lozano, 2012), as well as to the company’s business models, strategies, and practice.

This workshop will focus on exploring and discussing science, policy, and business models examples and alternatives to help move the chemical industry towards becoming more sustainable and hopefully equitable, through holistic approaches for the short and longer-term future. Some of the questions to be explored include but are not limited to:

  1. What examples of green/sustainable chemistry exist that could set the example for future practice?
  2. What new compounds or systems can be developed to reduce the reliance on fossil carbon energy sources?
  3. What methods can be used to develop new, more sustainable chemical compounds?
  4. How can materials flow be better managed to come closer to closed-loop operations?
  5. How can chemistry and engineering be transformed to be more holistically sustainable?
  6. What are recent developments and achievements in Green/Sustainable Engineering?
  7. What laboratory-based experiments now need to be up scaled to the commercial scale production of new green and sustainable chemicals?
  8. How can such processes be made more environmentally friendly and sustainability oriented?
  9. How can efficiencies and efficacies be improved from the laboratory level, to the pilot plant level, to the industrial level?
  10. What new governmental and corporate policies are needed to promote green/sustainable chemistry at the societal level?
  11. How can governmental chemical policies be developed and implemented in the chemical industry supply chains to make them more sustainable?
  12. How can sustainable business models be fostered in the chemical industry so that increasingly bio-based chemistry and engineering are developed and implemented so as to truly progress to the Post-Fossil Carbon societal paradigm?
  13.  What new sustainable business models can be/must be developed and implemented to move the chemical industry forward?
  14. How can science, policy, and business models be better inter-connected with social and eco-system realities especially in the context of dramatic changes in climate?
  15. What types of collaborations are needed between the chemical industry, its suppliers, customers, labour unions, insurance companies, and with environmental and human health protectors in order to become more sustainable in the context of climate changes?
  16. What kinds of ethical, economic and legal challenges could arise in the transitions of the chemical industry towards becoming more sustainable?
  17. What are the roles of Higher Education Institutions for educating future professionals that will be working in the chemical industry and in doing research?

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Papers

We invite authors to prepare abstracts of 500 words in response this Call-for-Papers. The abstracts are to be prepared in English.

Please submit your abstract(s) via the conference website:

After the Global Conference, scientific teams of the Global Conference will select the articles to be developed for peer review and for potential publication within one of several Special Volumes of the Journal of Cleaner Production that will be developed based upon outputs from the Global Conference.

For more information contact:
Prof. Krysztoff Urbaniec


Prof. Francisco J. Lozano


AIChE (2015) Accessed on May 5th, 2015
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Anastas, P. T., and Zimmerman, J. B. (2003), Design through the Twelve Principles of Green Engineering, Environmental Science and Technology, 37, 5, pp. 94A-101A.
Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring. USA: Houghton Mifflin.
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China Chemical Inspection and Regulation Service (2011). Regulation on Safe Management of Hazardous Chemicals in China–Decree 591 of 11.03.11; Available online at: Chemical Regulation/Regulations on Safe Management of Hazardous Chemicals in China.html (last accessed November 2012).
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Hartnell, R. (2011). $1.23 trillion sliced and diced. ICIS Chemical Business, 12-18.
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McDonough, W., Braungart, M., Anastas, P. T. and Zimmerman, J. B (2003), Applying the principles engineering of green to cradle-to-cradle design, Environmental Science and Technology, December 1, 2003, pp. 434A-441A.
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Tomatis L, Agthe C, Bartsch H, Huff J, Montesano R, Saracci R, Walker E, Wilbourn J. (1978) Evaluation of the carcinogenicity of chemicals: a review of the monograph program of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (1971–1977). Cancer Res; 38:877–85 (Pub: US: American Association for Cancer Research).
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UNIDO. (2011). Chemical leasing: A global success story.  Innovative business approaches for sound and efficient chemicals management. Vienna, Austria: United Nations Industrial Development Organization.
WBCSD (2015) accessed on May 5th, 2015

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