Sustainable development: efficiency and recycling in chemicals manufacturing
Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Sustainable Development has been increasingly accepted as a way to run businesses by balancing economic, environmental and societal responsibilities. Important aspects of environmental responsibility are the utilisation of natural resources and the disposal of wastes. These are addressed here.
Manufacturing processes and integrated manufacturing chains applied in the petrochemical industry are analysed in terms of feed, energy and chemicals that are consumed. Several chemical intermediates and polymers with large consumption of energy and/or chemicals are readily identified. These may be prime candidates for process improvement efforts.
Two indices are proposed for the preliminary evaluation of the recycle options of major polymers. They allow discrimination between materials that need to be reused, those that can also be depolymerised and those for which pyrolysis/gasification or incineration with energy recovery are also responsible options.