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Chemistry's Sustainable Spark: Changing our World

Aktualisiert: 21. Juni 2023

What is sustainable chemistry and why is it so important? When you set up an experiment, how do you make sure that you design molecules with the best sustainability profile? Read more about how Sarah Sulzer, Head Research Chemistry at Syngenta, an IChO Partner, is tackling these challenges.

We know that we need to make radical changes in the way we produce and handle goods across the globe. The chemical industry is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and needs to be at the forefront of implementing real change.

The choices we make in the lab have a significant impact on the overall footprint of a final product. We are seeing first-hand the impact of climate change and diminishing natural resources. These issues demand action, and chemistry can be a powerful ally in finding solutions.

Sarah Sulzer, Head Research Chemistry, Syngenta, wants chemistry to contribute to a more sustainable future by helping chemists develop new materials and processes that are more environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. Sarah says it is also important to consider the entire lifecycle of a product or process, from raw material extraction to disposal, and minimizing the environmental impact at each stage.

Sustainable chemistry offers a pathway to minimize environmental impact while meeting societal needs. It focuses on developing cleaner, safer, and more efficient processes, reducing waste and pollution, and optimizing resource utilisation. By embracing sustainable chemistry, we can safeguard our ecosystems, conserve resources, and enhance the well-being of communities worldwide.

Rethinking agrochemical innovation means that we must embed sustainability principles in both the design and synthesis of new active ingredients. At Syngenta, all chemists use a sustainable design framework which is inspired by the circular economy. The aim is to embed the entire lifecycle of an agrochemical product in the molecular design. Some of the framework considerations include how to use renewable starting materials instead of fossil-based materials, as well as an evaluation of synthetic feasibility from both a cost and environmental standpoint.

In addition to these sustainability principles, the rise of digital technologies and use of vast amounts of data is playing an increasingly important role in how we use chemistry and how we make decisions. We take advantage of data, modeling and machine-learning to speed-up the design process to reach sustainable solutions even faster.


Watch the video “Introducing our 3Rs” to learn more about how chemists Respect, Reward and Reduce to build a sustainable future.


As young chemists, your expertise and passion are invaluable. We encourage you to explore sustainable alternatives and challenge the boundaries of knowledge!

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