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Sustainable and Green Chemistry Innovations

Updated: Apr 2


Safic was invited to present at a workshop on “Advancing Entrepreneurship and Advancing Start-up Initiatives in Sustainable Chemistry, in Berlin.

We at Safic have developed safe "pre-mix materials" that can be blended near our customers, no matter where they are in the world, into effective, safe and sustainable cleaning products. In doing so, we have reduced the transport and packaging requirements for these products by up to 90%. We have also successfully replaced solvent cleaners with the effective green products in a number of areas.

With this project we have worked with a number of start-up partners around Africa to introduce this concept.


We were invited to present our process as a case study at a workshop on “Advancing Entrepreneurship and Advancing Start-up Initiatives in Sustainable Chemistry”. The workshop was in Berlin and was organized by United Nations Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre. The purpose of the workshop was to learn from the case studies of sustainable chemistry start-ups from around the world.

For the first two days we attended a chemical hackathon at the Freie Universität Berlin. About 35 participants worked for 24 hours, where they analysed the difficulties for start-ups in chemistry and worked on solutions. They had spoken with many experts over this period. The last few hours of the marathon were dedicated to summarizing the findings into a pitch. The pitches were presented to a panel of judges and the rest of us.


The next day, the other delegates and I, presented our case studies. We then took what we learnt from the case studies and the pitches the day before and looked at the issues facing sustainable chemistry start-ups and potential solutions.


The key challenges that chemistry start-ups have, is that they need access to laboratories to develop new products or processes and this is significantly costly. Also, innovations in chemistry are usually not as easily scalable as software or apps. This makes it difficult to attract investors.

Health and environmental concerns, as well as limited non-renewable feed stocks make it increasingly important to find sustainable and green solutions to global needs. Some of the ideas discussed were as follows: stronger governmental support for start-ups in this sector, shared laboratory space and laboratory space rentals should be available and affordable. The protection of intellectual property should be affordable and accessible. Finally partnerships of established companies with start-ups, such as the ones Safic has with its partners in Africa can be and are part of the solution.

Doug Cutter

Operations Director

Safic Pty Ltd.

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Int. Tel: +27 11 406 4000

Int. Fax: +27 11 406 4070

General Enquiries: sales@safic.co.za

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