news | 2021-12-09
An panel discussion with four men at the podium, one man standing to the right.

Personal chemistry main focus of the programme conference

In November 2021, Mistra SafeChem – at last – could arrange its first programme conference. External guests and internal participants got to know about the work so far and could discuss the plans for the future. And most of all: got to meet. Personal chemistry at its best!

Around 80 people were happy to be able to gather at the Sheraton Stockholm Hotel, where representatives for the research areas presented interesting research results. (For titles of the presentations, see this article Opens in new window..)

Much of the work in the Mistra SafeChem is done by PhD students. Several of them presented their research at poster sessions during the breaks in the program.

Panel discussion on how to reach the programme vision

A panel discussion, led by the conference moderator and programme director John Munthe, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, concluded the first day of the conference. It was focused on how to reach the programme vision: “The vision of Mistra SafeChem is to enable and promote the expansion of a safe, sustainable and green chemical industry.”

Some quotes from the discussion:

Nils Hannerz, IKEM:
– The customers are asking more and more for sustainability. In the industry, we aim to improve iteratively. A huge challenge is to transform the chemical industry to go from a fossil-based to a bio-based feedstock.

Urban Boije af Gennäs, Swedish Chemicals Agency:
– Mistra SafeChem should keep using the arguments that we already have as they are well aligned with both the EU chemicals strategy for sustainability and the circular economy action plan. There is a need for proactivity to avoid problems.

Jerker Ligthart, ChemSec:
– The new EU strategy sets safety as the bottom line. But what is safe? It is not only a scientific question, but also philosophical or political. In Mistra SafeChem we can define what safe means from a scientific perspective.

Ian Cotgreave, RISE and deputy programme director in Mistra SafeChem:
– The problems in the chemical industry will not be solved by chemists alone, we need to work much more interdisciplinary. A gradual change towards safety can be speeded up with digitalization.

Tools for alternative assessment

On the second day, the conference continued for internal participants, including meetings for the work packages.

Nina Melander and Anna Strid, Swedish Centre for Chemical Substitution, informed about tools and procedures for alternative assessment. And Aji Matthew, Stockholm University, gave an introduction to the Stockholm University Centre for Circular and Sustainable Systems.

Policy is an important issue for the future

Mistra SafeChem runs until the summer of 2024, but the conference already aimed at phase 2, which will hopefully begin then. Some comments:

“We have put an effort in finding a common language and this is probably a key to success.”

“We need to find the right balance between promoting innovation and regulation.”

“Policy issues could have a larger role in phase two.”