Sustainability in action at an industrial scale


Umicore AG & Co. KG, Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany


Sustainability represents an opportunity for businesses to explore new chemistries and development options that help to offer the best environmental protection, social responsibility and economic development practices. Applied to the chemicals industry, the term denotes those chemical processes that are environmentally friendly, socially and economically responsible and afford long-term benefits along the product value chain. Metathesis is one example of a chemical reaction that is widely considered to be both green and sustainable, with applications across multiple industries. In addition, the scarcity and economic value of precious metal complexes, which are essential for catalytic processes, have emphasised the need for robust metal recycling workflows. Both sustainable syntheses and environmental recycling procedures are essential for delivering long-term benefits in the industry.


The focus on sustainability has led many chemical companies to overhaul archaic synthetic strategies in favour of newer, more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods. Sustainability, like innovation, has quickly become an industry cornerstone. By switching from a ‘take, make, waste’ to a circular economy, a company demonstrates its commitment to both reducing its environmental footprint and preserving the long-term future of the industry. In order for sustainability to be commercially viable for companies, it must present advantages towards existing methods without adding to the overall cost. With the development of innovative chemistries, it is possible that more sustainable synthetic strategies could offer chemically and economically viable alternatives to conventional workflow methodologies. 

In fact, sustainable practices are now being implemented not only due to the environmental benefits, but also to give a company a competitive edge in a demanding market.

Intertwined with sustainability is the conce ...