The Chemical Industry has come under increasing pressure to make chemical production more eco-friendly due to its reliance on Fossil resources, its environmentally damaging production processes and its toxic byproducts and waste. The sustainability of the Chemical Industry requires an integrated strategy that takes into account safety, health and environmental benefits with technological and economic objectives.
The concept of 'Green Chemistry' was introduced in the early 1990s by the US Environmental Protection Agency, in order to promote Chemical Technologies that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and use of chemical products. Its guiding rule is prevention rather than cure. Green Chemistry field includes: modifying engineering practices, the development of new catalytic processes, the design of new Green chemicals and materials, use of sustainable resources, modification of existing chemical processes, use of biotechnology alternatives and bioremediation. Though Green Chemistry is primarily aimed at environment protection, it also makes economical sense, due to considerable savings on wastewater treatment, energy use, and use of organic carbon resources instead of fossil stocks.
White Biotechnology, also called industrial Biotechnology, is at a relatively early stage in the chemical industry. But it has the potential as a key driver to the industrys future. Industrial applications of Biotechnology today include Bio-feedstock that replace fossil fuel, Bioprocesses such as fermentation for Vitamin production, Biocatalysis in active Pharmaceutical Ingredient production and other applications in Textiles and Leather, Animal Feed, Pulp and Paper, Energy, Metals, Minerals and Waste Processing.
Industrial Biotechnology can provide the process tools for Bio-based production of chemicals. The chemical industry in Europe, which contributes 28% of the demand for chemicals in the world, has identified Industrial Biotechnology as a key emerging technology area. There are sufficient amounts of biomass to generate about 40 percent of bulk chemicals, according to McKinsey & Company estimates. The potential environmental benefits of shifting to Bio-Feedstock are substantial.
The new industrial Revolution is quietly underway, as Biotechnology brings innovation in the Chemical Industry. In a challenging environment where companies struggle to achieve efficiency and cost savings while maintaining an environmentally sound operation, Biotechnology may provide new strategy for value creation.