Safe and sustainable by Design chemicals and materials (SSbD): First broad testing of tools for early stages of innovation and substitution

Main Presenter:    Tomas Rydberg 

Co-Authors:   Anna Agalliadou     Chiara Battistelli      Emilio Benfenati      Cecilia Bossa      Evert Bouman      Émilien Bourgé      Swapnil Chavan            

Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSbD) has the potential to be a powerful concept and methodological framework for innovation in the chemical sector. The Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC) [1] aims a.o. to build an SSbD toolbox to steer the chemical industry towards innovation that is aligned with the European Green Deal and Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. In this PARC study, existing tools relevant for the application of the SSbD framework outlined by JRC [2] were tested in a pilot case study on bisphenol A (BPA) and two alternatives, bisphenol AP (BPAP) and isosorbide (ISB), in the two applications polycarbonate food-contact bottles and epoxy resins.
The purpose was to test the tools’ function in the context of the JRC framework, not to select an alternative to BPA in the chosen applications. Furthermore, we combined the JRC framework with an innovation model in several stages. We aimed to focus on early stages with limited data availability, thus provided tool testers with only the chemicals’ name and structure and the intended application, and then asked them to specify what additional information is needed for running the tool.
Existing tools were identified by a thorough review and were tentatively mapped according to the stage gate innovation model and the “steps” (or components) of the SSbD framework. For Step 1 (“Hazard”) we tested: VEGA, JANUS, Oncologic, MSC in silico toolbox, INTEGRA, Danish (Q)SAR database and QSAR Toolbox. For Step 2 (“Process safety”): ProScale, INTEGRA, ECETOC TRA, Advanced Reach Tool ART and Stoffenmanager. For Step 3 (“Use phase”): VEGA, INTEGRA, ECETOC TRA, ConsExpo and SimpleBox. For Step 4 (“Environmental sustainability”): GaBi and quasaLCA). For Step 5 (“Social and economic sustainability”), we tested the Social LCA framework of UNEP, as well as an approach developed within the H2020 SUNSHINE project.

Some initial observations include:

Different tools are needed to cover the indicators requested in the JRC SSbD framework, also within each step. Tools intended for the same purpose partly align and partly differ in output, also when assessing the same end-point (indicator). This seems to lead to the need for very specific guidance when defining qualification criteria for SSbD, e.g. prescribing a specific set of tools and a decision approach to reach conclusions from multiple tools.
The further advancement of SSBD in innovation will have to see a development of qualitative expert judgement, semi-quantitative models, and computational models, for all SSbD steps.

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