You know the joke: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
In the new world of sustainability, the question is: Do green processes come before sustainable products?
Perhaps both are possible simultaneously. As companies expand their operations globally, they implement best manufacturing practices that are eco-friendly and also bring new sustainable products to the market.
In the chemical industry, Albemarle Corporation and BASF are among the leaders in this shift to processes and products that are more environmentally sensitive and promote sustainability.
Albemarle, a producer of flame retardants like GreenArmor and other specialty chemicals, has developed manufacturing processes that eliminate emissions into the environment. In addition, it has implemented programs that reduce carbon dioxide emissions and use alternative sources of energy at their facilities worldwide.
Albemarle also encourages local distributors, customers and competitors to join the company in participating in programs, such as the Voluntary Emissions Control Action Programme (VECAP), that eliminate all harmful products from the environment.
For example, in China, Albemarle’s facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Nanjing all adhere to guidelines to reduce emissions. These facilities also serve as models for local manufacturers who seek to implement modern safety and environmental standards.
One new technology that Albemarle has developed is a mercury reduction process that reduces the amount of mercury emitted to the atmosphere from coal-fired power plants. Specifically, through the use of a new activated carbon injection technology, mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants can be reduced by 80-90% at a cost of less than $1.00 per household per month.
This green technology can be implemented anywhere in the world where coal is a major energy source producing electricity for consumer and industrial markets.
Where the rubber meets the road is the development of sustainable products. BASF is manufacturing sustainable construction materials for participants building pavilions that meet high environmental standards for the infrastructure and edifice at the Expo 2010 Shanghai. These include insulation, paint and flooring; such products represent tremendous potential for the construction of commercial, industrial and residential buildings for the near-term and long term horizons.
As US and European regulators develop stricter requirements, these new standards may be adopted by other nations. By implementing the sustainable processes consistent with these regulations, global companies will ensure that new and improved green products will be competitive in all international markets.
Which means the question will become: What’s next for sustainability, in the US or in China?
And, how can our company develop more green processes and sustainable products?
Ironically, as we were posted this article the nightly news broke an interesting news story.
Chicken-and-Egg Mystery Finally Cracked