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Free download: Establishing the environmental impact of chemical products

10 Jul 2024

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Ricardo, with the support of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA), has published a new guide, ‘Establishing the environmental impact of chemical products’, to help chemical organisations advance their sustainability journey.

The guide offers practical insights, best practice, and industry case studies on Life cycle assessments (LCAs), which can identify the environmental impacts of chemical products and processes. The guidance aims to demystify LCAs and their role in driving forward sustainability in the chemical sector, whilst aiding businesses to identify opportunities to enhance product sustainability and reduce environmental impact. 

Integrating LCAs into operations lets organisations identify areas for improvement, optimise resource utilisation, and support sustainable innovation. Using LCA to gain quantifiable insights on how produced products impact the environment from extraction through to disposal, enables organisations to measure, monitor and improve performance in key impact areas. 

Navigating climate policy

Since the Paris agreement of 2015, there has been a global shift towards measuring, monitoring and, ultimately, minimising the negative impact of human activity on the planet. As a result of the regulatory direction of travel in the EU and other territories, the chemical sector is experiencing the impact of climate policy response, particularly given its early position in a great number of supply chains – chemicals are, after all, integral to the production of 96% of all manufactured goods.

With regulations and frameworks requiring robust data demonstrating the improvements made to product impacts, chemical organisations must provide transparency and confidence to customers and stakeholders.
With the wide acceptance that LCAs are a complex, data heavy tool, capable of highlighting opportunity, the guide explores the considerations for any such organisation looking to complete an LCA and considers the benefits of an experienced team due to the potential for unintended consequences where calculations or boundaries are poorly handled.

Craig Thomson, Chemical sector Lead for Ricardo, said: ‘With the sheer scale of regulations that now focus on sustainability criteria – and the considerable rate of change – there is a real concern that organisations are leaving themselves open to risk of penalty if they are unable to demonstrate their impacts. Or, that their customers won’t buy from them if they cannot share this detail in the future. We wanted to collate and condense the key factors organisations should consider on their journey, and how they can confidently respond.

'Implementing comprehensive LCAs in the chemical sector is essential for fostering sustainable industry practices. However, due to their complexity, LCAs can seem daunting. The CIA is proud to have supported Ricardo in developing guidance that assists chemical companies in driving change and embedding sustainability into their operations. This initiative not only boosts environmental responsibility but also promotes innovation and efficiency, paving the way for a greener future for all.' – Charis McInnes, Sustainability Executive for The Chemical Industries Association (CIA).

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