Materials are used in the production of thousands of products and services that lie at the heart of national economies and make up the commodities of international trade. Millions of people throughout the world lead richer, more productive and more comfortable lives because of the vast array of materials on the market today.
Some of these materials are naturally occurring, mined from the earth or harvested from the land, while others are synthetic compounds manufactured from the residuals of complex chemical cracking and conversion processes. Every year the world’s industrial enterprises use these materials to formulate and assemble the multitude of products that support our health, ease our work, and entertain and amuse us. Mobile phones keep us connected; computers store our data; drugs treat our diseases; stoves cook our food; textiles make our clothing; automobiles whisk us about; and soaps and perfumes keep us attractive. Our economies have become gigantic materials processing systems that produce millions of tons of products and, almost as rapidly, consume and discard them.
The chemical composition of these products is fundamental to their function and performance. Some are simple metals or salts, but most are complex mixtures of many inter-reacted organic and inorganic compounds. Thousands of these chemicals are used to make our products. But many of these highly useful chemicals are also persistent, toxic and dangerous to our health and environment. As we mine, synthesize, process, distribute, use and dispose of these chemicals and materials, we generate worrisome threats to our health, future generations, and the ecological systems upon which we depend.
There is a basic Irony here, but it is not destiny. We can develop and implement policies that support vibrant economies and satisfying lifestyles and, at the same time, provide for safer and more sustainable chemicals and materials.
This Website is designed to provide resources for conceptualizing, developing and promoting public and private policies for managing materials and chemicals safely and sustainably throughout their life cycle.