This study focuses on the question of how approaches for the management of chemicals throughout their life cycle can be aligned and enhanced with Sustainable Chemistry methods and ideas. The study comprises descriptions and definitions of Sustainable Chemistry and Chemicals Management, based on important selected references. Interfaces between sustainable chemistry approaches and those of sound management of chemicals and waste, or the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, are analysed.

The most important chapter presents the results of a survey among members of an Advisory Council formed in the context of the preparations for the establishment of the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3), in which they were interviewed about their vision for aligning and enhancing chemicals management with sustainable chemistry beyond 2020. The results of the literature study and the survey serve as the basis for recommendations for further developing chemicals management beyond 2020 and the future orientation and function of the ISC3.

Sound management of chemicals and waste (SMCW) mainly focuses on the safe handling of chemicals in production and use and afterwards on adequate disposal of hazardous chemicals and waste. Green Chemistry is in nuce a set of principles with which to design safer chemicals while minimizing resource consumption. Both approaches have their strengths and undoubted success – and limitations. Sustainable chemistry, however, aims to close the gap between ecologically viable solutions and economic success, taking into account economic and social dimensions as well as thinking in full life cycles. With this in mind, sustainable chemistry can best be regarded as an overarching concept, which integrates sound management of chemicals and waste and green chemistry and overlaps with circular economy. It is important to note that sustainable chemistry is not a new sub-discipline of chemistry but guides trans- and interdisciplinary thinking to systematically find solutions for sustainable development. It requires and drives innovations, focusing in so doing on sustainable solutions (e.g. substitution, systemic thinking).

Sustainable chemistry is unthinkable without high standards being anchored and implemented worldwide for the approval and handling of chemicals and hazardous waste. Meeting sound management of chemicals and waste requirements is therefore a prerequisite for sustainable chemistry. With regard to SMCW beyond 2020, there are still – on a global scale – deficits in the definition of a long-term common understanding and a vision of how existing management systems should be further developed and made more converging. With a particular view to the Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the perspectives beyond its current mandate until 2020, sustainable chemistry appears as an excellent overarching guiding concept for further developing chemicals management beyond 2020. Seen as a holistic approach which takes into account all dimensions of sustainable development, sustainable chemistry has the potential to contribute to achieving numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre ISC3 (to be launched in May 2017) is designed to act as a platform, incubator, think tank and knowledge base. With these functions, the ISC3 can set impulses for the involvement and support of developing and emerging countries in capacity building (“SMCW baseline”), for fostering collaboration between industry and academia in research, innovation and education, and for mainstreaming sustainable chemistry. Furthermore, the ISC3 can take a leading role in setting the frame for the Sustainable Chemistry concept and give strong impulses for the further development and implementation of international chemicals management policies beyond 2020.

The study was performed by BZL GmbH and IFEU.



The complete study will be available after the ISC3 conference. Publication will be announced in the Newsletter!