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Friday, 17 July 2015

Innovation across Regions: Shaping Solutions for Resource Efficiency in Europe

To mark the end of the successful three-year SusChem-inspired FP7 project Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R), the project team will be presenting its final findings and recommendations on 30 September in Nice, France. The R4R closing event will be part of the major ECCE10 + ECAB3 + EPIC5 conference.

The combined 10th European Congress of Chemical Engineering, 3rd European Congress of Applied Biotechnology and 5th European Process Intensification Conference is the perfect venue to present the R4R findings.

The R4R workshop will gather policymakers, regional experts, captains of industry and academia to hear the key learnings from the project and provides an excellent discussion forum to exchange and discuss ideas on how chemical and related industries along their various chemical value chains can be transformed into eco-efficient, high-technology solution providers – and a key enabling element of the circular economy.

At the R4R workshop you can:

  • Learn about the role of regions in promoting resource efficiency
  • Discuss with policy makers, industrial players, entrepreneurs and academia during our networking breaks
  • Engage in discussions during dedicated panel debates with mentors from R4R's four flagship initiatives to implement recommendations for a resource efficient Europe
  • Hear about resource efficiency success stories with keynote speeches from representatives from R4R's six European regions
  • Explore our exhibition space
  • Shape future prospects for the R4R flagship initiatives including topics such as industrial symbiosis, education and bio-based SMEs.

A complete overview of the workshop will be available soon, but the draft agenda is available now.

Register now!
To register for the R4R workshop you need to register for the entire ECCE 10 + ECAB 3 + EPIC 5 conference that takes place from 26 September to 1 October. A special Early-Bird rate is offered for the first 150 persons who register at this link! The discount code is: ECCE-CEFIC1

The full ECCE 10 + ECAB 3 + EPIC 5 conference programme can be accessed here.

For more information, please contact Jacques Komornicki, Cefic Innovation Manager. We look forward to seeing you in September in Nice!

About R4R
Under the Chemical Regions for Resource Efficiency (R4R) project, launched in late 2012, six complementary European chemical regions came together to overcome fragmentation and create a platform for international collaboration on resource efficiency. A Joint Action Plan was developed comprising tools and best practise to improve the triple helix collaboration between the participating regions involving industry, academia and public sector.  Find out more at the R4R website.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

RESIDE gets Results

The heating and cooling of buildings contributes around 30% of the gross energy demand in Europe. Although new buildings follow more stringent energy efficiency standards, the existing and extensive estate of old buildings with poor energy rating is significant. Around 35-40% of Europe’s building stock was built before 1960 and 45-50% of the remainder before 1991. The density of old building stock varies extensively by regions, but the vast majority of Europe’s built environment more than 25 years old. In order to meet its emission and energy consumption reduction targets, Europe needs to urgently target and refurbish these older buildings in a cost-effective way.

Launched in December 2013 the SusChem-inspired FP7 project RESIDE aimed at supporting the implementation of EU Strategies to boost demand for innovation in the buildings refurbishment market by:

  • Adapting and applying of a promising emerging scientific approach, Technology Innovation Systems (TIS) for an extended localised market assessment
  • Defining, implementing and monitoring multi-level strategic roadmaps for Demand Sides Policy Measures (DSPM), based on the TIS market assessments, and
  • Proactive engagement of all target groups in the whole process

CEFIC was a partner in RESIDE together with CiaoTech (Italy), Bax & Willems (Spain) and the University of Utrecht (NL)

RESIDE has assessed the market and set up a baseline scenario of the EU refurbishment sector with a focus on three EU regions (Lombardia-Italy, Catalonia-Spain, Noord Brabant-The Netherlands), using the TIS methodology to identify the interactions among different parts of the system.

The main results of RESIDE, in particular from the TIS analysis and confirmed through direct discussions with the regional stakeholders, are that the three regions have clear targets and comprehensive plans for building refurbishment and that the main barriers to implementation are not the existence of financing schemes or refurbishments technologies from construction companies but are more due to:

  • Lack of knowledge of existing schemes
  • The speed of market formation
  • Resource mobilisation issues

Smart cities
The final results of the eighteen-month RESIDE project were presented to the General Assembly of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP SCC) at the Metropolitan Solutions conference in Berlin on 21 May 2015.

RESIDE representatives attended the plenary session of the EIP Smart Cities Conference, chaired by European Commissioner for Transport Mrs. Violeta Bulc and European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mr. G√ľnther H. Oettinger. The conference attracted more than 450 representatives of EU organisations and communities including Mayors, CEOs and High-level speakers from all around Europe. The RESIDE project displayed a poster as part of the EIP event within the Berlin “Metropolitan Solutions” fair along with other 20 EU-funded projects on similar topics.

The RESIDE work raised high interest with the stakeholders present. In particular, Commissioner Bulc (see above Commissioner Bulc centre with Laszlo Bax on left from RESIDE) showed high interest in the RESIDE methodology and the three regional case studies, asking for more feedback on project’s results.

In the afternoon sessions, Laszlo Bax, the RESIDE project coordinator, presented the final results of the project to the EIP SCC’s Action Cluster “Sustainable Districts and Built Environment”. The Action cluster, chaired by Mrs. Rinske van Heiningen of Akzo Nobel and the Action Cluster leader, gathered about 40 people, all experts with multidisciplinary background and experience including architects, representatives of various EIP SCC commitments, entrepreneurs, university professors specialising in urban planning and energy efficiency in building, among other disciplines.

Finally, RESIDE partners participated to the break-out sessions on “Business Models for Sustainable Districts” and “District Regeneration” where representatives of the Action Cluster further discussed these topics and links and synergies with the EIP SCC in general, including the next steps for follow up.

RESIDE received several expressions of interest for future collaborations and was included in the list of projects on which the Action Cluster wants to push for a follow up within the EIP SCC community.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Helsinki Chemicals Forum 2015 and SusChem

Every year since 2009 in late spring, a meeting takes place in Helsinki that is of major relevance to chemicals manufacturers and their customers. And not just those whose businesses operate mainly in Europe.  The annual Helsinki Chemicals Forum (HCF) is hosted by the European Chemicals Agency, a body which was set up by the European Commission to manage the ongoing implementation of the EU's Regulation, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals legislation (REACH). SusChem board member Prof Rodney Townsend is a regular presenter at the meeting and here he reports on the 2015 meeting for SusChem News.

This year the Helsinki Chemicals Forum met at the end of May. All of the five main discussion topics had very much in mind the stated  aspiration of the planned 2020 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which is to achieve by 2020 a minimisation of 'the adverse effects of man-made chemicals on human health and the environment'.  An emphasis that ran through the whole meeting was the proposed Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and USA and what the implications of this might be in terms of harmonisation of regulations for chemicals between the two trading areas.

Dr Klaus Berend from the European Commission’s DG Growth is currently advising the TTIP negotiators regarding REACH-related issues. He gave a summary of the current state of negotiations to the HCF participants and emphasised that under TTIP, neither the EU nor the USA will lower current safety standards.  Indeed, both parties will maintain their right to continue to raise them, but for the TTIP to work, harmonisation of current legislative policies is essential.  A further key issue is that neither party will impose their system on the other.  These negotiation principles have important implications for chemicals manufacturers as they seek to develop more sustainable products, whether their markets are primarily in the EU or USA or span both current trading areas.

SusChem is by its very nature highly committed to sustainable development.  Similarly, implementation of and changes in REACH regulations, or their equivalents in the USA, are critically important to any company committed to sustainable innovation.

SusChem was represented at the HCF meeting by myself (second left above) and Erwin Annys, Director of REACH Chemicals Policy at Cefic (centre above), also attended.  Erwin and I were both directly involved in the fifth Panel Discussion topic, entitled ‘Green Chemistry and Engineering – a Fundamental Breakthrough?’  The Panel discussed the basic tenets of the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry which were first enunciated nearly a quarter of a century ago by Paul Anastas, who currently works for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Is Green chemistry sustainable?
The Panel and audience (which added its thoughts via tweets and texts) concluded that it was time to review the Twelve Principles because their focus is almost wholly on the activities of chemists and not on the manufacturing process as a whole.

Specifically the following points were made during the discussion:
  • 'Green chemistry' is not the same as 'green chemicals'.  This may seem an obvious point, but the Panel felt that it was not one which legislators always appreciated.  It was noted that current legislation in the USA emphasises just chemicals in final products rather than looking holistically at the sustainable manufacturing system.  See for example: and
  • Although the environmental imperative is the most critical factor in considering sustainable product design, no future process will be truly sustainable if it is not also societally beneficial and economically viable.  This is a key part of SusChem’s 2020 Strategy and also underpins the Europe 2020 growth strategy.  It is for this reason that SusChem prefers not to present ‘green chemistry’ as the answer per se.
  • This holistic thinking must extend along whole value chains; what might seem ideal at one point in the chain may have major implications further along the value chain. This is also central to SusChem’s strategic approach.
  • In the light of the recent EU Circular Economy initiative there is a strong need for a rethink issues related to waste disposal and re-use. In particular, Principle 1, which just states: 'It is better to prevent waste than to treat it or clean up waste chemicals', needs a major overhaul.
The general conclusion that was drawn at the HCF was that the time is overdue to update the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry.  How this should be done and who should do it is not yet entirely clear, but that it should be done is crystal clear.

In line with movements in global scientific and technological developments, holistic thinking across all disciplinary barriers must proceed apace, especially in the light of the enormous changes and opportunities implicit in the coupling of intelligent computing with 'big data'. This matter will be the subject of a further blog article in the near future.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Sustainable Chemistry in Action: A close look at how science can change the world for the better

Science and sustainable chemistry has had an enormous impact on the development of a healthier and more sustainable and prosperous society, yet there is still so much to be done to tackle the world’s most pressing problems such as poverty, hunger, disease and climate change. Every day, scientists across the globe strive to provide answers to these global challenges, going to great lengths and making huge personal sacrifices to develop real solutions.

Dutch chemical and biotechnology company Royal DSM are using the tagline 'Bright Science. Brighter Living' to talk about these challenges and possible solutions. The company is paying tribute to the unsung heroes of our time: the world’s scientists who inspire us by making a positive difference to our society (see the video above).

This campaign aims to start a conversation with the general public, NGOs, governments, businesses and other stakeholders about the importance of science with positive societal purpose. In order to have real societal impact, science should be a truly collaborative effort. Please feel free to share the campaign video that can be found on YouTube  and visiting the dedicated website.

You can also follow DSM on twitter (@DSM) with the campaign hashtag #brightscience, on Facebook, and they have a dedicated YouTube channel too.