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Development and application of a set of sustainability indicators for green chemicals (R-7565)

The chemical industry faces social, economic and environmental challenges. Against this background, increasing attention is paid to the concept of "green chemistry", where chemical products and processes are designed to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. The green chemistry can also contribute to the emerging bioeconomy by offering high value applications like bioplastics and specialty biochemicals. Given the multitude of economic, environmental and social impacts that the production and use of green chemicals can have on sustainability, assessment approaches need to be developed that allow for a measurement and comparison of these impacts. To evaluate sustainability in the context of policy and decision-making, indicators are generally accepted means. However, sustainability indicators currently predominantly exist for low value applications in the bioeconomy like bioenergy and biofuels. Indicators that exist with regard to green chemicals are currently relying on a limited set of environmental and economic indicators that do not account for linkages between the different aspects of sustainability. The aim of this PhD is to propose a comprehensive set of indicators specifically for the assessment of green chemicals, considering the production and use of green chemicals from cradle to grave as well as environmental, economic and social impacts. The developed set of indicators will be applied on two real-life cases within the biochemical industry at VITO (the Flemish Institute for Technological Research). The methodology will contribute to the evolution from existing sustainability frameworks for biofuels and bioenergy to sustainability frameworks encompassing green chemicals, as well.
Date:1 Dec 2016 →  31 Dec 2020
Keywords:Green chemistry, sustainability
Disciplines:Applied economics, Economic history, Macroeconomics and monetary economics, Microeconomics, Tourism