Category 18 April 2019

SusChem: the European Techno logy Platform for Sustainable Chemistry

SusChem, the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry, is a forum that aims at promoting the sector of European chemical and biochemical innovation. Through substitution, damage reducing techniques or other forms of eco-manufacturing, sustainable chemistry can help meet the  needs of modern society. 

The challenge

Europe’s chemical production and processing industry is one of its most energy- and resource-intensive sectors.[1] Those industries hold key positions within critical value chains across Europe. Their active contributions are essential to achieving the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth that Europe requires.[2] The joint effort of relevant stakeholders is needed to respond to that challenge. A technology platform allows for combining activities and improving the strategic planning of entities like industry, SMEs, professional associations, and universities. Using sustainability criteria as guidelines for its work also involves policy makers and consumers into such a transformative network.

The network

In 2004, SusChem was founded by six European bodies, bringing together academia and industry. Supported by financial and consultative support by the European Commission, the networks first tests were facilitating the dissemination of information, networking and raising awareness about the innovative nature of sustainable chemistry.[3] SusChem is not a legal entity in itself, it is coordinated by Cefic, based in Belgium.[4] The highly collaborative network provides partnership opportunities, enhancing the cooperation between its diverse members, it facilitates sharing good practice alongside providing consultancy. Formally, a board oversees the work, which is mostly executed in the framework of the National Technology Platforms of which SusChem is the umbrella organisation. Working groups bring together specialists on particular topics and joint annual meetings ensure broad exchange.

The benefits

SusChem identified six priority areas, including resource and energy efficiency.[5] The work is led by industry, covering water, raw materials, smart cities, enabling technologies, and education. Joining this European Technology Platform means becoming an active part of a wide range of expertise and resources through the established network of National Technology Platforms in 11 countries across Europe. These national sustainable chemistry platforms also support national policy engagement in EU collaborative projects and programmes, and contribute towards transnational collaboration.[6] One particular offer by SusChem, GRANT-IT, supports members with one-stop access to funding opportunities from the European Commission and certain regional and national governments in the field of sustainable chemistry.[7] With its range of activities, SusChem helps to respond effectively to society’s challenges by providing sustainable solutions.[8]

Further deployment

SusChem is providing support and opportunities for industry to improve the efficiency of its resource and energy usage, and to reduce its environmental impact. Since its concept’s deployment has been undertaken through the coordination of the National Platforms, the maturity level is estimated to be 8 on the generic maturity scale GML.[9] SusChem is actively engaged in a number of EU-financed projects, for instance R4R . SusChem aims to support Europe’s further transition towards a sustainable economy by developing and leading large-scale, integrated research and innovation programmes in which chemistry plays a significant role.[10] The Technology Platform’s work helps the European chemical sector remain world leader, acting as a critical driver of innovation across other industrial sectors.[11]