Industrial Applications Using BASF Eco-Efficiency Analysis: Perspectives on Green Engineering Principles

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Life without chemicals would be inconceivable, but the potential risks and impacts to the environment associated with chemical production and chemical products are viewed critically. Eco-efficiency analysis considers the economic and life cycle environmental effects of a product or process, giving these equal weighting. The major elements of the environmental assessment include primary energy use, raw materials utilization, emissions to all media, toxicity, safety risk, and land use. The relevance of each environmental category and also for the economic versus the environmental impacts is evaluated using national emissions and economic data. The eco-efficiency analysis method of BASF is briefly presented, and results from three applications to chemical processes and products are summarized. Through these applications, the eco-efficiency analyses mostly confirm the 12 Principles listed in Anastas and Zimmerman (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2003, 37(5), 94A), with the exception that, in one application, production systems based on bio-based feedstocks were not the most eco-efficient as compared to those based on fossil resources. Over 180 eco-efficiency analyses have been conducted at BASF, and their results have been used to support strategic decision-making, marketing, research and development, and communication with external parties. Eco-efficiency analysis, as one important strategy and success factor in sustainable development, will continue to be a very strong operational tool at BASF.

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Environmental Science and Technology