Goods that are good enough: Introducing an absolute sustainability perspective for managing chemicals in consumer products

Peter Fantke*, Nicole Illner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


While many products become more sustainable, overall pressure from emissions and exposure to chemicals in products on human and environmental health increases, driven by worldwide growing chemical and product diversity and consumption. To benchmark environmental sustainability performance of new products and measure related progress, we need to move from eco-efficiency indicating relative improvements to eco-effectiveness linking chemical-related impacts to absolute sustainability limits, considering entire chemical and product life cycles. Efforts in chemical substitution and alternatives assessment to replace harmful chemicals with sustainable solutions are still in their infancy and lack applicability to product scales. Novel and innovative methods are required to understand the different life cycles, to quantify and link impacts associated with chemical-related product design decisions to actual limits for human and environmental health, and to integrate this absolute perspective in chemical substitution practice. With such methods at hand, it will be possible to develop products that are environmentally sustainable in absolute terms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry
Pages (from-to)91-97
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this