Finding parallels: Sharing approaches toward sustainability and product stewardship

Organizers: Paul Thornton; Saskia van Bergen

Many of the big challenges of achieving sustainability in manufacturing and implementing green chemistry in industry are transferrable across diverse sectors. Despite the commonality of these challenges and frequent similarity of the underlying systems involved, many organizations set out to address these issues by looking inward in a sector-specific fashion. The goal of this session is to highlight how the approaches of diverse industries and sectors toward achieving sustainability have commonalities that have potential to be implemented across sectors and in vastly different contexts. Exploring how specific approaches in one sector can be adopted and more widely deployed across multiple industries has great potential to improve our understanding of system-wide challenges and to spur the development of innovative best practices.

In this session, innovators, industry and academic scientists, entrepreneurs, and regulators will share their perspectives in working toward collaborative solutions that could be applicable to other sectors and the wider green chemistry community. Specific topics to be explored may include:

  • Incorporating circularity into manufacturing design: Designing products for end-of-life and the circular economy has been advanced more in some fields than others. What system-based approaches can be transferred to those that are struggling to incorporate end-of-life in design?
  • Moving towards carbon neutral or carbon negative manufacturing and improved efficiency: The ambition to achieve carbon neutral (or negative) manufacturing has become prominent in some industries. New systems thinking approaches to manufacturing (3D printing, rapid prototyping, material sourcing) allow for greater efficiency in making new materials and products. What technologies have been critical to achieving carbon neutrality, and what sectors could benefit most from integrating these approaches?
  • Hazard reduction: Industry initiatives toward creating safer products and manufacturing processes are increasingly important. What specific programs and/or collaborations have been most significant and how could they find implementation in different sectors of manufacturing?
  • Minimizing risk in bringing innovations to market: The last decade has seen an increasing number of collaborations to help scale up innovations such as partnerships arising from industry-sponsored open-innovation challenges, and collaborations between industry and academia. These partnerships minimize risk to individual companies searching for solutions that can compete in the marketplace, while furthering the development goals of startups and other innovative companies. Where can such relationships have the greatest impact on sustainability, and what lessons can we take away from case-studies of successful scale up projects?

Presenters will share insights in how their approaches could be leveraged in other contexts. Further, we will be engaging session participants in an interactive discussion around emerging parallels in approaches to driving sustainability. This session will be an opportunity to discover and advance approaches toward sustainability that can be implemented across different industries.