Undoing chemical industry lock-ins: polyvinyl chloride and green chemistry

Iles, Alastair, Martin, Abigail and Rosen, Christine Meisner (2017) Undoing chemical industry lock-ins: polyvinyl chloride and green chemistry. Hyle – International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, 23 (1). pp. 29-60. ISSN 1433-5158

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Abstract

We examine polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as one example of the ethical challenges that the chemical industry faces when putting green chemistry into practice. Green chemistry has emerged as a powerful new philosophy for designing molecules, reactions, and products to be intrinsically non-toxic and sustainable. We consider three issues: Should the chemical industry overcome the inertia of path dependent technologies and introduce safer, more sustainable technologies? What will motivate companies and their employees to practice green chemistry under conditions where changing technologies and businesses can create substantial economic, market, and technical risks? How should the precautionary principle be applied in terms of the real-world complexities of manufacturing chemicals? To do so, we look at examples of environmental and health harms in the feedstock and PVC manufacturing lifecycle stages, along with green chemistry solutions that could be employed. PVC suggests how difficult it could be to adopt green chemistry solutions; nonetheless, these solutions may make significant contributions across the chemical industry generally.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Green chemistry, precautionary principle, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl chloride, PVC, lock-in
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering > TD0194 Environmental effects of industries and plants
T Technology > TP Chemical technology
T Technology > TP Chemical technology > TP0155 Chemical engineering
T Technology > TP Chemical technology > TP0200 Chemicals
T Technology > TP Chemical technology > TP1080 Polymers and polymer manufacture
Depositing User: Abigail Martin
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 10:08
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 13:07
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/84576

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