After consulting the great green gurus of the world wide web, these are some of the green predictions for the chemical industry I've gathered for 2008:
Lithium, photovoltaics (for solar energy) and carbon dioxide are hot!
These products will continue to be big in terms of research and development. High-powered lithium-based rechargeable batteries will increasingly replace nickel cadmium such as in tools, (think of Black & Decker's new VPX system and Ryobi Lithium technology), portable machinery and even in electric cars. Development of cheaper photovoltaic materials will make solar panels affordable for use as a source of electricity. More and more application of carbon dioxide will be discovered and developed.
Plastics in and plastics out
While consumer use of petroleum-based plastics will shrink (e.g. shopping bags, water bottles and some packaging), plastic application in the industrial sector (e.g. automotive) will grow to replace metals and other traditional heavier-weight materials. Bioplastics will increase to replace traditional plastic materials in the consumer sector and will soon be cheaper as production also increases.
Counting carbs Environmental experts will continue to broadcast the growing greenhouse gas obesity problem in the atmosphere. Chemical companies will continue to expand their corporate environmental initiatives such as lowering their carbon emissions from their day-to-day operations, manufacturing, transportation, supply chain...; using more environment-friendly feedstock; lowering energy consumption; joining organizations such as the US Climate action partnership to help solve greenhouse gas emission problems.
Renewable and eco-friendly products will continue to thrive as product manufacturers look for alternatives to several traditional chemicals that are deemed by regulators and environmental activists as toxic. Look for more bioplastics, more biofuels, crop-based chemicals, biorefineries and other uses of biotechnology.
Green investing and management
More companies will start-up especially in the alternative energy sector. Several chemical companies are looking to snap-up or invest in alternative energy as well as in bio-based market. Companies will hire green managers (GMs), corporate sustainability officers (CSOs), and green media personnel (GMPs) to make them look green and smell clean in the eyes of consumers, regulators and activists.
Rising chemical restrictions
More regulations for chemicals will take place pressured by environmental activists. The European Union's REACH (registration, evaluation, authorization and restriction of chemical substances) will soon take effect. If successfully initiated, this could be the first of many major chemical restrictions around the world.
More research and development will continue to replace these restricted chemicals. The world will be healed and will become a much better place for our children...either that or we'll just find out in the next century that these new chemicals will have worse consequences than the ones that we have now.