Policy Incentives for a Cleaner Supply Chain: The Case of Green Chemistry

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

There is a great deal of interest in the development and deployment of green technologies and the actions required on the part of industry, academia, governments and civil society to drive them forward. This paper uses the case of green technology in the global chemical sector to better elucidate the challenges of implementation of innovations for sustainable development, to analyze which approaches have been effective, and to provide generalizable knowledge about the types of strategies required to move these technologies from niche applications into widespread use. For green chemistry, and innovations for sustainable development more generally, there is a need for greater public intervention, including regulatory regimes that are strictly enforced, investment in basic research and education to build human capacity, more outreach programs in collaboration with industry to aid with technology transfer and implementation, and economic incentives for firms that may have the desire but not the financial capacity to make use of these innovations. Voluntary collaborations and the influence of major supply chain actors, on their own, are not powerful enough to catalyze the increases in scale that are needed for a real transition to sustainability.