Chemical manufacturing resource efficiency

Advantanges of green chemistry in chemical manufacturing

Guide

If you can produce greener or more sustainable chemicals and chemical products you can reduce their environmental or health impacts and you could reduce your costs.

Green chemistry means designing chemical products and processes that use and produce fewer or no polluting or hazardous materials. For example, you could use green chemistry in developing new catalysts or substitutes for volatile organic compounds used in solvents and adhesives.

It applies across the full life cycle of a chemical. You should think about:

  • how you select the raw materials used for manufacture
  • how you produce the chemical and the energy used
  • the cost of disposing of the chemical and its environmental impacts
  • the potential for reuse or recycling the chemical
  • whether the chemical should be produced at all

You can find out more about the 12 principles of green chemistry.

Benefits of green chemistry

If you use the principles of green chemistry in your business and apply clean technology, you could improve efficiency, reduce waste and produce safer chemicals for users.

It could also help you comply with existing and future legal requirements and a growing list of restricted substances and materials.

Marketing your improved environmental performance can help you to raise your business' profile and increase sales - see how to market your environmental credentials.

How to apply green chemistry principles

You should use a step-by-step approach to apply the principles of green chemistry. This will enable you to identify any issues and deal with them in a systematic way.

You should:

  • review the 12 principles of green chemistry and develop a plan for how you can use them in your business
  • assess the chemicals you currently use and manufacture
  • identify the potential opportunities from green chemistry
  • set up an approach for adopting green chemistry
  • gather innovative ideas that could lead to creating products with lower environmental impacts
  • integrate green chemistry into your business, perhaps through a documented programme within a wider environmental management system framework
  • carry out regular reviews to monitor progress and ensure products and processes you implement lead to environmental improvements

Comply with controls on innovative technology

If you are considering developing or using innovative products or processes, you should contact the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) as early as possible so that they can advise if there is anything you need to do, before you invest any money. You must make sure that you have all the appropriate permits, licences and exemptions in place before you start developing your product or process and trialling activities.

Field trials and testing

If you plan to carry out field trials on your product or process you should contact NIEA.

Using nanotechnology

Nanotechnology, or nanoscience, involves manipulating atoms and molecules to enhance materials or products, for example to create strong lightweight materials. Nanotechnology may be beneficial for product development, but the risks to the environment also need to be managed.