The concept of sustainable chemistry

Chemistry is currently faced with one of the biggest challenges in its history. More than 150 years ago, the continuous increasing and usage of new chemicals and diverse materials in growing amounts began. The down side of this revolution was the pollution of the environment, health issues and other threats. Today, the technical and economical limits of product-integrated environment protection, effluent treatment, ecosystem limits and risks become pregnant, this requiring a sustainable chemistry which is conventional chemistry with all its branches, but which contributes in a sustainable manner to our world.[1]

the concept of sustainable chemistry

A future guiding principle of sustainable chemistry1

Sustainable chemistry is a scientific concept that seeks to improve the efficiency with which natural resources are used to meet human needs for chemical products and services. Sustainable chemistry encompasses the design, manufacture and use of efficient, effective, safe and more environmentally benign chemical products and processes.[2]

To be sustainable, chemistry must fulfill conditions, such as: waste prevention, less hazardous chemical synthesis, designing safer chemicals, designing energy efficiency, use of renewable feedstocks, catalysis and design for degradation, real-time analysis for pollution prevention and uses the knowledge of all chemical subdisciplines, together with entire life cycles of chemical products and taking into account all stakeholders and their interactions.[3]

  For its global implementation enterprises, authorities, civil society and well-educated chemists need to participate with ideas, plans and applications for a new story of chemistry in a sustainable new world.[4]

  Sustainable Chemistry: A Future Guiding Principle


[1] K. Kümmerer, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 56, 16420 (2017)

[2] U.N. Environment Program Global Chemical Outlook (2019)

[3] K. Kümmerer et al., Science 367(6479) (2020)

[4] European Commission, Implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan (2019)