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Green Chemistry to Grow 48.5% Annually
- Zarir Langrana, COO, Tata Chemicals Limited
With India contributing 20 per cent of global effluents, industries within the country have rigorously started speeding on the road towards green chemistry to strengthen sustainability. Zarir Langrana, COO, Tata Chemicals Limited, says that expected increase in spending on green chemistry is surely a positive sign.

With the environmental alarms ringing strongly, the concept of green chemistry - a special programme designed by the Environmental Protection Department - is an ideal initiative. The programme has been adopted by numerous industries as a new approach towards chemistry. It is an effective alternative to the pollute-andclean approach which has been prevalent in country till recently. Green chemistry is the utilisation of a set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or production of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture or application of a product.

Majorly this new technology comprises of natural processes and alternative methods, and/ or plainly focuses on the use of alternative feedstocks that are more innocuous and renewable. The use of alternative reaction conditions or increased selectivity of reduced waste emissions and designing of eco - compatible chemicals are also some of the segments that are packed with green chemistry. It is considered as a tool for chemical engineers and research scientists for designing materials that would enable the industries to curb the release of toxic chemicals in the environment and move towards sustainable development.

India accounts for 3 per cent of the global chemical market and the report suggests that it could be responsible for almost 20 per cent of global effluents. Unfettered and unsustainable industrialisation and urbanisation are the major causes of increasing pollution levels in water, land and air. Industries dealing with chemicals and pharmaceuticals are one of the biggest producers of industrial effluents and thus frequently come under the scanner of environmental department. However, on the positive side, over the years, some of the companies have updated their technologies used for the treatment of effluents and are becoming more responsible as well as are imbibing sustainable practices in their operations. Companies such as Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL), which has adopted green chemistry as its prime strategy emphasises that green chemistry is probably still in a stage of industrial infancy in India but is growing at a rapid pace. One of the prime examples of green chemistry’s growing impact in the Indian market can be showcased with the way industries are adopting avant-garde technology to discharge waste water. Rising costs for water, wastewater disposal and rising commodity prices have made many corporations rethinking their water and waste water treatment strategies. Instead of only considering environmental regulations in their decision making, companies are now looking at other factors in their waste water treatment models like economic value of the commodities discharged in wastewater, permit costs and purchase costs for process water.

Stating on the Industry reports wherein, Green chemistry has grown to USD 2.8 billion in 2011 and expected to grow at 48.5 per cent annually, Zarir Langrana, COO, TCL, mentions that although green chemistry has resulted in a drastic environmental, economic and social change, there are still social barriers that impede the progress of green chemistry. This includes the lack of awareness on the application and benefits of green chemistry. However, there has been an increase in public awareness of benefits and applications of green chemistry in developing countries like India. Once such issues are managed tactfully, it won’t be difficult in achieving the predicted growth.

“Green chemistry in India is here to stay,” states Langrana. The favourable government initiatives and a strong ‘green’ approach are propelling the Indian chemical industry to greater heights. Use of the ground-breaking technologies in the Indian chemical industry has allowed the purification of substantial amounts of products at reasonable prices, thereby reducing energy consumption by at least 25 per cent and producing 20 per cent less waste than current technologies, he added further.

As per the National Manufacturing Policy, the government aims to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP to at least 25 per cent by 2025 from current 16 per cent. Indian chemical industries will have to strategically plan and perform to achieve the goal. Companies such as BASF, Dow chemicals, Lanxess India, Dow Corning India and TCL have already joined the race and adopted various measures such as mandatory implication of rules and regulation, high research and development, prioritising safety measures, reducing carbon footprint in supply chain reducing energy consumption, conserving natural resources like water and minimising effluents and wastes that are discharged and introducing specialty chemical additives.

One of the examples wherein TCL as a part of its green chemistry drive, is focusing on developing and introducing new green products that will help mitigate the impact of climate change. As part of the development programme at the Tata Chemicals Innovation Centre, new offerings are developed such as products for flue gas treatment and carbon absorption and Nanotechnology based glass-coatings for insulation .They have also registered several clean development mechanism (CDM) projects with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); these projects relate to energy reduction and methane reduction.

According to Langrana, with increasing demand for green products, shifting to green chemistry is not an option but a necessity for the companies. It must be understood that green chemistry practices are essential for the long term survival and business sustenance of chemical companies.

Since the chemical industries touches all facets of human lives and is an important source of the world’s energy and raw materials requirement, it is imperative that this industry implements green practices and moves away from the perception of being dirty, dangerous and demanding.