Our society and its needs are continuously changing and progressing, which means innovating new products, materials and technologies to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including products to help fight climate change, increase resource efficiencies, and help solve other global challenges.
ACC advocates for a risk-based, holistic approach to assessing products for sustainability and identifying opportunities to innovate new products and design processes with greater sustainability for people and the planet. Earlier this year, ACC issued a set of Sustainable Chemistry Principles that frame industry’s approach to product assessments and innovation.
Based on these principles, ACC member companies work to promote and advance solutions that reduce their environmental footprint, while increasing their “handprint” – the societal benefits provided by their products.
As chemists and engineers at ACC member companies design new products and processes, they assess well-established criteria such as hazard, potential exposure, and risk across the product lifecycle; resource needs; and process efficiencies. In addition, product assessments need to include impacts on climate and designing for circularity – that is, the reuse and recovery of valuable resources through production to the end of the product’s useful life.
PSA: A Tool for Assessing Product Portfolios
How do chemical companies assess products in multiple impact categories and consider potential trade-offs between them? One way is through a structured, continuous improvement approach called Portfolio Sustainability Assessment (PSA). The PSA framework can help companies steer their product portfolios to increasingly greater sustainability outcomes.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) established a methodology for chemical industry development of PSAs that many ACC members are using as a guide to develop PSAs for the product they manufacture.
ACC Member Company Examples
Here are just a few examples of how ACC members are using PSAs to help steer their product portfolios toward improved sustainability performance:
- Solvay’s Sustainability Portfolio Management (SPM) is a fact based and robust compass to steer its portfolio toward better business-orientated sustainable solutions. Guided by a questionnaire structured around 4 themes and 28 sub-themes to assess products and help drive long-term sustainable growth, the SPM helps alert businesses to sustainability market signals that are systematic, fact based, future oriented, and customer centric.
Using the SPM, Solvay evaluates its environmental manufacturing footprint and correlated risks and opportunities to identify solutions for both upstream and downstream value chains, so customers can ensure a sustainable contribution with a favorable balance between value and environmental impact.
- Clariant Corporation’s Portfolio Value Program is a comprehensive sustainability assessment across all life cycle phases, addressing the most pressing sustainability challenges. It categorizes the product portfolio of the company's three business units (Care Chemicals, Catalysts, and Adsorbents and Additives) as follows:
- EcoTain®: Leading products in their market segments, distinguished by exceptional sustainability performance.
- Sustainable: Products making positive sustainability contributions in one or more criteria.
- Transitional: Products with actively addressed sustainability deficits.
- Non-Sustainable: Products falling below Clariant's sustainability standard, requiring a roadmap for replacement or phase-out.
The generated insights guide continuous portfolio improvement and inform the development of innovative solutions in Clariant's pipeline for the future.
- Chevron Phillips Chemical Company is conducting PSAs, which incorporate economic, environmental, regulatory and social information to gauge the overall sustainability performance of its products. Through the holistic perspective of PSAs, the company expects to further optimize its portfolio by amplifying strengths, mitigating risks and harnessing opportunities for sustainable innovation.
- Indorama Ventures developed a PSA methodology for assessing its product portfolio, guided by the WBCSD methodology. Initially, the company identified the most relevant topics, including Human toxicity, Ecotoxicity, Efficient Use of Resources, Emissions (air, water, and soil) and Contributions to Society that consider societal challenges, as well as market signs and company ambitions.
To carry out its portfolio analysis, Indorama considered the product’s application and prepared a qualitative questionnaire with 25 questions covering a full overview of product performance. For each question, an expected answer parameter was set. The company classified its products using a decision tree that enables each product to be rated according to the answers given in the assessment process. Finally, portfolio management criteria were set to help guide the company with the measures needed to improve the sustainability performance of its products or expand the market availability of those solutions categorized as high performance.
Through ACC’s Innovation Program, we continue to share information about member company leading practices to drive innovation and new product development with greater contributions to sustainability, as well as encourage members to establish their own PSAs and create a culture of Sustainable Chemistry across their organizations.