Sustainable Chemistry – a leading Concept for international chemicals management

We are proud of a project of importance for international environmental pollicy: We were commissioned by the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt - UBA) to develop a set of indicators to measure progress towards a more sustainable chemistry and chemicals management. The purpose of these indicators is to enable reviewing progress of the targets that are currently developed and discussed in the Intersessional Process of SAICM and sound management of chemicals and waste.

The ambitions to improve the overall sustainability of the design, production, use, and disposal of chemicals is of paramount importance, as almost all human systems are affected by the positive but also the negative impacts of chemicals. This project focuses on the environmental, economic, social, health, agricultural and labour aspects of managing chemicals and waste, in order to foster sustainable development and circularity.

Within the concept of sustainable chemistry, chemicals are tools to reach important societal goals, clearly addressing the trade-offs of the SDGs and the finding of the most sustainable solution for conflicts of interest e.g.

  • not simply more Nitrogen and Phosphate to increase crop yields, but tailored fertilizers, precisely applied, that do not endanger soil organisms or ground water
  • not just insulation foams with flame retardants to save energy for heating and cooling, but appropriate housing concepts preferably based on regional resources which are cost-effective, climate-friendly and can be dismantled and recycled easily
  • switching from virgin fossil feedstock for chemical production to the valorisation of secondary materials such as plastic waste, food waste, organic residues and carbon dioxide,
  • not only replacement of hazardous substances by other compounds, which often exhibit similar chemical structures, but development of “benign by design” chemicals promising non-regrettable substitution.

To measure its effectiveness, we developed adequate indicators for future management of chemicals and waste in a dialogue process integrating more than 100 experts from all UN regions. Essential results were presented at various congresses by Christopher Blum (UBA), Henning Friege (N³), Esther Heidbüchel (CSCP gGmbH), and Barbara Zeschmar-Lahl (BZL GmbH). Presentations can be found in the download section.

Some indicators are also suitable for the European Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. We discussed the results with experts from the European Commission, national agencies, industry and NGOs.

We have created a platform where you

– will find the criteria for indicators and the final set of indicators,

– can read teh documentation of all our workshops,

– can comment on the results,

– and exchange ideas and opinions with colleagues.

Put your trust in !

N³ Nachhaltigkeitsberatung
Dr. Friege & Partner Wirtschafts- und Naturwissenschaftler