BASF greens the chemical business

BASF greens the chemical business


One of my favorite words these days is sustainability. And lucky for me it’s cropping up all over the place and it’s music to my ears. I get especially excited when corporate giants take the word seriously and begin to work sustainability into their manufacturing process and even into product design.

One sustainability program I recently learned about comes from the chemical giant BASF. Now, for a lot of consumers, especially here in super-green Boulder, Colo., chemical company and good-for-the-earth seem like contradictory terms. But BASF is setting an example in the industry and I want to not only applaud them for it, but to brag about them in hopes that many other companies, suppliers and manufacturers follow suit.

BASF's Sustainability, Eco-efficiency, and Traceability (S.E.T.) program creates transparency along the entire supply chain so that the big-picture process can be streamlined and improved for the benefit of everyone involved. The goal is to increase profitability while improving the environmental and social impacts of a product’s life cycle.

The Eco-Efficiency Analysis is an independently certified tool for measuring sustainable development and production of a product from “cradle to grave,” explains Cristian Barcan, cofounder of S.E.T. It compares the ecological and economic aspects of alternative products or processes that fulfill a customer need. It contrasts economic value with environmental impact. And it produces an “environmental fingerprint” that illustrates how different alternatives measure up in terms of x-factors such as energy and materials consumption, emissions, toxicity, land use and potential for hazards.

The Global Traceability Network—a web-based platform from Tracetracker—offers a standardized traceability infrastructure where business partners can share information. It makes product and sustainability information available from every stage of production, processing and distribution, from source to shelf.

I remember BASF’s old slogan, “At BASF we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.” I always liked that straightforward statement. Now I think they could say that at BASF they don’t make the industry, but they are making the industry better. 

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