I was pretty unimpressed with my Industrial mid-term assignment this week, to make a poster and write an essay on one of two topics. Either:
1. Discuss whether the chemical industry can be considered a green industry, using specific examples where appropriate.
2. Discuss the differences between the pharmaceutical and the petrochemical industry.
I honestly picked option number one because it looked easier, like I could get away with doing less research on it, but as I read back through the relevant lectures on how companies adapt to create more environmentally friendly processes, I found it actually very interesting.
Companies can spend years perfecting a process, to increase their yield, and lower their E-factor (waste generation) as two of the main points. They discover new ways to recycle much of the waste material created from the process, by either reusing it within part of the cycle or selling it on for use as a starting material in another process entirely. In this way companies can lower their carbon footprint, and increase the efficiency of their processes, increasing their profit margin – which is the main aim for them. If they’re making more money, doing it the “green” way, they’re more than happy to do so. It’s only when being environmentally friendly costs more money than not being green, do they have a problem.
I think it’s very exciting how the chemical industry is moving forward in its attempt to be greener, and improving the way it works. It’s given me a whole new outlook on the way industries are now working in this new era, where recycling and renewable energy is so important for our future and the future of the planet.