- Substitution to safer chemicals
- How to substitute?
- Test, implement and improve
How to subsitute?
Substituting substances is not necessarily a simple replacement of one chemical with another. You need to do your homework and there is no "one size fits all". Methods that work in one company may not work for your product or process. One approach you can use to address your substitution challenge is functional substitution, where you consider the specific function of the substance and how it could be met by alternatives in a broad sense – covering not only the substance itself but also aspects such as production techniques and product design. You may also need to try several alternatives before you find the best one. In your assessment, beyond the consideration of the hazard, exposure, technical performance and economic aspects, it is important to also look at wider effects, where these are relevant, such as energy and resource use, waste, recycling and socio-economic impacts. If you choose to develop a brand new product, consider an approach that takes into account safety and sustainability across its entire lifecycle.
Following the selection of the most promising alternative, you will probably need to carry out an iterative series of steps that involves pilot testing, implementation of alternatives, and the continuous improvement of your process and product.
Test. Once you have selected your preferred alternative based on the assessments described in the previous section, run a pilot test. Small-case pilot testing can shed light on the full extent of the process, product and organisational changes needed in the full-scale adoption of the alternative. Carefully identify all other changes that could occur when implementing a substitution project at full capacity (e.g. impacts on supply chain).
Implement. Once a pilot test has been successfully launched and finalised, you can start to fully implement the alternative. Create a detailed implementation plan, outlining a series of actions required to smoothly implement the substitution.
Improve. Gather and collect feedback from all stakeholders directly affected by the adoption of the alternative and the changes brought about by it (e.g. your workers and customers). Make necessary continuous improvements based on the received feedback.
From a longer term perspective, make sure that you have a good chemical management system in place in your company to constantly assess the use of your chemicals and consider substitution where needed.