Green Chemistry: What Is It, Why It Matters And How It Is Impacting Product Compliance Software Markets

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Green Chemistry: What Is It, Why It Matters And How It Is Impacting Product Compliance Software Markets

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), green chemistry is the ‘design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances’ and it applies across the entire life cycle of a chemical product. Looking at a more granular level, the core goal of green chemistry is to reduce pollution at its source whilst eliminating hazards from products and improving energy efficiency. This is fundamentally different from remediation which intends to lessen the impact of pollution that has already occurred.

The fundamentals of green chemistry have been established for more than 20 years through the Federal Pollution Prevention Act and has been further developed through the creation of 12 green chemistry principles in 1991. For those practicing green chemistry, there is a defined prioritization of initiatives starting with the source reduction of chemical hazards and pollution. Secondly, chemicals should be treated to ensure they are less hazardous prior to disposal. Thirdly, chemicals should be disposed of safely.

Many of these initiatives appear analogous with current product compliance regulations and EHS roles, so why are we seeing green chemistry gain traction now? The prominent rise in ESG and sustainability performance over the last three years has kick-started a focus on enterprise-wide environmental practices. Moreover, a primary driver of green chemistry is a broadening and increasingly stringent product compliance regulatory landscape, which has meant that chemical producers, distributors and users, are being driven to align their practices with several of the 12 principles; these include principle 4: designing safer chemicals and products, and principle 12: minimize the potential for accidents. In particular, the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals or REACH regulation is viewed as a driving force behind green chemistry initiatives. Central to REACH’s impact on green chemistry is authorisation to support the substitution of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) with safer alternative substances.

Verdantix anticipates green chemistry and ESG and sustainability initiatives to have a sustained and continued impact on the product compliance software market. Contributing to innovation surrounding substitution analysis, risk profiling of chemicals, and chemical safety. As evidenced by VelocityEHS’ partnership with Praedicat, a risk analytics firm, to launch a green chemistry offering in May 2022. The solution aims to tackle ESG challenges through natural language processing and machine learning (ML) by scanning scientific journals in real-time to continually assess and update the risk profile of in-use chemicals. As another example, UL offers a predictive toxicology solution that applies advanced algorithms and ML to data sets to quickly predict chemical hazards.

For more insights on the product compliance software market and the impact of ESG drivers on innovation, read our latest product compliance software Buyer’s Guide.
Industry Analyst

Chris is an Industry Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. His current research agenda focuses on digital mental health and wellbeing solutions. Chris joined Verdantix in 2020 and has previous experience at EY, where he specialised in robotic process automation (RPA). He holds an M.Eng. in Engineering Science from Oxford University with a concentration in machine learning and machine vision.