As pollution continues to damage the earth, the irreversible effect of climate change becomes more imminent. No one wants that to happen, including the big corporations responsible for it. Yet they still keep operating without sustainability in mind.
That draws the question: can they ever be sustainable? The oil & gas industry emits vast amounts of toxic air and water pollution, but many consumers depend on them for fuel and energy. The mining industry is essential for the minerals, jewelry, and stones we use for various purposes. And the chemical manufacturing industry is critical for the production of various chemical products we use daily. Without them, so many of our needs won’t be met.
But that’s exactly why these industries need to be sustainable. If we’re going to depend on them for a long time, it’s their responsibility to give us a cleaner and healthier planet.
Thankfully, some companies in these industries have already adopted sustainable strategies. And some newcomers in their industries specifically started with sustainable goals.
That said, here’s how the most polluting industries can be more sustainable:
Oil and Gas Industry
Technology is key to minimizing the industry’s expenditure and waste and increasing productivity. A 2017 research revealed that offshore oil platforms performed at only 77% of their true production potential. This shows that there are plenty of opportunities for them to adopt smart analytic systems. In doing so, they can generate greater returns without harming the environment.
Bottlenecks, accidents, and resource wastage are the top sources of pollution in the oil and gas industry. Modern software can help them identify and reduce these sources better.
In addition, the industry should reduce their excessive freshwater usage. And many of them already do. In recent years, oil companies managed to recycle between 80% and 95% of freshwater on average. But they’re still looking for new ways besides recycling to reduce their freshwater consumption. They’re currently focused on reusing freshwater through improved filtration and water treatment solutions.
The industry also strives to minimize oil and methane leaks. Those issues are key contributors to air pollution and climate change. To prevent those, oil companies started using contemporary oilfield equipment that minimizes leaks, pills, and breakdowns.
Oil remediation, the process of removing and disposing of spills, also helps. Top remediation-processing centers, like Vivakor and other companies, have been striving to stall the worst effects of oil leaks and spills. They’ve proven themselves essential to the sustainable future of the oil and gas industry.
Although the best solution to mining hazards is to stop mining altogether, there are still ways to reverse their effects without eliminating them. On February 29, 2020, 150 leaders in the mining industry came together to answer questions at the annual Sustainability Forum. Some leaders’ insights were similar to the methods for the oil and gas industry. They’d also use technology to minimize their wasteful practices. This technology will be focused on big data collection and tracking, automating processes, and generating sustainable energy for mines.
Miners’ can be replaced by machines, keeping them away from safety and health hazards. Mining companies also seek the active participation of communities. Local communities shouldn’t be sent away from their homes for their lands to be excavated for minerals. Mining companies want to give them voices because only then can the mining industry initiate socio-economic development and sustainability.
If multiple stakeholders in the industry support the change, the world can experience sustainable mining by 2045.
At the 2nd Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Berlin, leaders in the chemical manufacturing industry debated what counts as “sustainable” and “green” in their companies. The panelists agreed on five key areas that will create a more sustainable chemical industry.
First is the need to anticipate the problems the industry needs to solve. For example, companies should align their strategies with the UN sustainable development goals. But to do that, they should identify the regulatory challenges coming down their pipelines. Second, the industry shouldn’t justify negative perceptions. Instead, they should focus on building upon innovation and position themselves as the next progressive step.
Third, the industry should study how they affect their customers. Since they’re the drivers of the industry’s growth, companies can also get sustainability insight from them.
Fourth, the industry can involve the circular economy in the product life cycle. With collaborative effort, they can create sustainable products and seize the opportunity to promote the positives of better chemistry. And lastly, they should make the public understand why sustainable alternatives are better than conventional methods.
It has been predicted that by 2030, climate change could become irreversible. But we’re not yet too late to save the earth. If these industries fulfill their promises, we can all enjoy a clean, safe, and healthy planet.