Sustainability, which has been identified within the Process Safety Corporate Topic Group as a topic of interest, is being promoted as a desired future direction for developments in science and technology and covers general themes such as "Process Intensification", and "Green Chemistry".
The European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (ETPSC) states that: "New, more sustainable chemical products and technologies can improve public confidence in the industry itself and act as a catalyst for improved sustainability and innovation throughout European business".
The term Process Intensification, which as a concept was first pioneered by ICI in the late 1970’s refers to technologies that replace large, expensive and energy-intensive plant or processes with smaller, less costly and more efficient operations.
A strategic research agenda aimed at defining themes and roadmaps for future research has been drafted by the ETPSC for consultation, covering the areas of "Reaction and Process Design", "Materials Technology" and "Industrial Biotechnology".
The intention must be that the impact of sustainable processes will be largely benign and beneficial to the environment and the public at large. However, the emergence of new manufacturing technologies and the novel use of existing materials and/or processes (as in the Green Chemistry example above, which employs high pressure reactors), may well give rise to new risks and hazards for the workforce and warrants a Horizon Scanning approach.