My colleague Asish Ghosh has retired—for the second time. Ten years ago he announced his first retirement, got his retirement party, and a few weeks later we called him back in to help us with a quick turnaround project. He then worked part time for another decade, retired again last week, and got his second retirement party. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, except, perhaps, that two parties are better than one.
Asish’s last publication for ARC, assuming he is not shooting for a third retirement party, is a strategic report titled “Chemical Industry Trends, Challenges and Opportunities” (available to ARC clients only). There is a section in the report on “green chemistry” that has implications for chemical supply chains, including companies that manufacture, use, distribute, or transport chemicals.
Green chemistry “efficiently utilizes renewable raw materials, eliminates waste, and avoids the use of toxic and or hazardous raw materials, intermediates, and products.” There are twelve principles of green chemistry, some of which only make sense if you have a degree in chemistry. But the core concepts behind these principles are the following:
- Design processes to maximize the amount of raw material used in the final product;
- Use safe, environment-benign substances, including solvents or catalysts, whenever possible;
- Design energy-efficient processes;
- The best form of waste disposal is not creating any waste in the first place.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is promoting the “research, development, and implementation of innovative chemical technologies that accomplish pollution prevention in a scientifically sound and cost-effective manner.” Further, “the design of greener, more sustainable products and processes has become a top priority for many chemical manufacturers.” According to Asish, if you go to the websites of the leading chemical companies, you’ll find “green chemistry” messaging all over them.
It is a truism of supply chain management that once you design a supply chain – including the product design, the manufacturing processes, the sourcing strategy, and the manufacturing and distribution networks – you have locked in a very high percentage of the costs. In the chemical industry, green chemistry principles is a growing focus of supply chain design.