Leasing instead of buying chemicals would make wonders for the environment

2021-01-25 

“Our concept could reduce chemical emissions in the atmosphere from today’s hundreds of tons to only 10-12 tons per year,” says Rodrigo Lozano, researcher in industrial engineering and management at University of Gävle.

Kemifabrik

Originally, this concept comes from the UN industrial development organisation (Unido). It is a method to reduce trade and dumping of chemicals.

Rodrigo Lozano

Rodrigo Lozano

Rodrigo Lozano was involved in the project early and has published two articles on the topic, and one of them was awarded a prize. Recently, he has contributed to the book Chemical Leasing, published in Austria by Unido in December 2020.

Leasing instead of buying chemicals

Chemical suppliers and users can reach an agreement where the supplier instead of selling quantities like kilograms or liters of the product, leases the function of the chemical.

If 10 000 bottles need to be cleaned, the user can instead of buying two tons of the chemical product, reach an agreement that makes sure that the supplier takes the chemicals back and cleans them or disposes of them correctly, Rodrigo explains.

“Usually, the chemicals are cleaned to a large part and then reused,” Rodrigo Lozano says.

Both parties gain financially

Both parties gain financially from such an agreement, as the price agreed upon takes into account not only the price of the product but also the cost for recycling. Usually, the user must pay twice, first for the product and then for the recycling. So, even if the price for the chemicals is slightly higher initially, costs are reduced in the long run.

“Suppliers often have places for cleaning, so it is not difficult for them. Moreover, the returned product is usually fairly easy to clean. We can compare it to the recycling of bottles in Sweden, but the cooperation between supplier and user is closer.”

Three ways

“To make the industry more sustainable, we need to use three ways: science, legalization and business models,” Rodrigo Lozano explains. “Science is good, but developing new products is expensive. Legislation in turn requires companies to pay large sums to see to it that someone takes care of all chemicals. For these reasons, companies can see that the business model ‘Chemical leasing’ saves money.”

Only five percent of chemical companies are green

“There is an enormous potential in the use of green chemistry,” Rodrigo Lozano states. “Green chemistry is more common in developing countries. For the environment, green chemistry means that we could reduce chemical emissions in the atmosphere from today’s hundreds of tons to only 10-12 tons per year. This is a significant reduction. Moreover, we could reduce the use of resources for chemicals by 70 percent.”

Contact

Rodrigo Lozano, researcher in industrial engineering and management at University of Gävle
Phone: 073-461 83 56
E-mail: rodrigo.lozano@hig.se


Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo Rodrigo Lozano: Anna Sällberg
Photo Chemical factory: Martin Meissner/AP/TT

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Veronica Liljeroth Updated: 2021-01-25
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