Cefic Launches New “Safe And Sustainable-By-Design Guidance” For Research & Innovation Within Chemical Companies

Cefic’s new publication offers detailed, actionable advice to integrate state-of-the-art Safe and Sustainable-by-Design principles across the entire innovation processes.


In recent years, the chemicals industry has scaled up its activities to embed state-of-the-art Safe and Sustainable-by-Design principles into its innovation processes. Cefic’s new publication, ‘Safe and Sustainable by-Design: A Guidance to Unleash the Transformative Power of Innovation”, offers detailed, actionable advice to integrate these principles across the entire research and innovation lifecycle. The guidance outlines specific activities for different phases of industrial Research and Development (R&D).

The new guidance brings views from both the industry and organisations such as the European Commission and its Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The goal is to serve as a valuable guide for the chemical sector and value chains toward a sustainable, circular, and inclusive economy by 2050. It aims to empower stakeholders to more efficiently apply SSbD principles throughout the innovation lifecycle.

According to Daniel Witthaut, Cefic Executive Director for Innovation:

“We support a collaborative effort to develop and implement SSbD principles by engaging all relevant stakeholders. This approach is key to ensure an implementable framework that will -based on advancements in scientific knowledge- lead to ever more safe and sustainable products. Cefic is committed to sharing this guidance, a milestone in our journey towards integrating SSbD principles more deeply within the chemical industry. We encourage companies across various sectors to test it, share examples of SSbD principles implementation, and offer transparent reports on their experience in its practical application. Such insights might then lead to further framework developments”.

SSbD as a holistic approach: industry’s perspective

Cefic and its members have previously defined SSbD as an iterative process guiding innovation and market placement of solutions that are safe, and offer environmental, societal, and/or economical value. This includes new chemicals, materials, products, processes and services, as well as the potential redesign of existing ones based on a suggested Portfolio Sustainability Analysis as defined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The new guidance builds on this understanding and proposes steering design principles for assessing safety and sustainability right from the innovation design stage. It emphasises the need for a risk-based assessment aligned with REACH and beyond, and a life-cycle-thinking mindset to minimise toxicological risks.

Policy support for SSbD’s Lifecycle Impact

Effectively implementing SSbD goes beyond laboratories and boardrooms, it also requires supportive policies. The report stresses the need for lean and pragmatic decision-making frameworks, the development of flexible, adaptable methodologies, and a commitment to co-create a clear, practical approach to SSbD principles based innovation.

To meet specific safety and sustainability criteria, the entire lifecycle of chemical products should be considered; from development and production to usage and end-of-life phases. This holistic approach is vital for driving tangible improvements in line with the EU Green Deal’s ambitions.

Download the Safe and Sustainable-by-Design Guidance here.