Looking for innovative win-win approaches to stimulate industry into managing chemicals in an environmentally and economically sound manner, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) developed in 2002 the first concept of the Chemical Leasing business model.
Chemical Leasing gained international visibility through the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SACIM), which was signed in Dubai in 2006. Subsequently, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the German Environment Agency (UBA), the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) joined the partnership, which was reaffirmed through the signing of the Joint Declaration of Intent on Chemical Leasing in 2016. Followed by the Ministry of Environment of El Salvador, Ministry of Environment of Peru, Ministry of Environmental Protection of Serbia and Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment of Sri Lanka that also signed up to the Declaration.
Since 2006, a large number of demonstration cases have been run in different industrial sectors. These have shown the immense potential of Chemical Leasing to bring environmental, social and economic benefits. To further up-scale and promote the business model at global level, different tools were developed: Chemical Leasing Toolkits; the Chemical Leasing Sustainability Criteria; the SMART 5 Tool; and the publication of the book “Chemical Leasing goes Global”.
To enhance the visibility of Chemical Leasing and to globally encourage companies to apply the model, UNIDO and its partners launched the first Global Chemical Leasing Award in 2010. The award acknowledges best practices in Chemical Leasing at industry level, as well as in research and innovation. The success of the first award triggered the organisation of three consecutive awards, in 2012, 2014 and 2018. The growing number of applications show measurable reductions of chemicals consumption, accompanied by significant reductions in water, waste and energy, and – just as importantly – significant business advantages. In some instances, the business model has been in place for more than 10 years now, and some companies have shifted their entire business approach to providing chemical services/solutions instead of selling chemical products.