Environmental report urges a move away from petrochemicals

Activists say the chemical industry needs to switch from petrochemical building blocks such as methanol to safer, biobased substances, reports Chemical & Engineering News.

Substances that are not derived from fossil fuels should replace benzene, butadiene, ethylene, methanol, propylene, toluene, and xylene, says the report by the group Coming Clean, a U.S.-based network of community activists, environmental justice organizations, and policy, science and market experts.

As an alternative to chemical manufacturing complexes such as those in Louisiana and Texas, the report recommends smaller-scale, distributed chemical production. These operations could garner input from surrounding communities, rely on green chemistry and green engineering principles, and make chemicals that pose low hazards.

Switching to biobased feedstocks, such as wood pulp, to make these basic chemicals isn’t a solution, the report asserts. Instead, chemical manufacturers need to consider toxicity and the climate impacts of their operations and products. Read the entire story.