SUN: Paving Sustainable Nanoinnovation
Published: 31 October 2014
Proceedings of The 4th World Sustainability Forum,
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Our understanding of the environmental and health risks from nanotechnologies is still limited, which may result in stagnation of nanoinnovation. This emphasizes the need for an integrative assessment and adaptive management of the long-term risks from manufactured nanomaterials (MN) along the entire supply chains of nano-enabled products towards developing more sustainable nanotechnologies. Sustainable nanotechnology is being touted as a holistic and pragmatic concept that can guide incremental nanotechnology development amidst significant data gaps and uncertainty. The new European SUN (Sustainable Nanotechnologies) project is based on the hypothesis that the current knowledge on environmental and health risks from MN, whilst limited, can nevertheless guide more sustainable nanomanufacturing. SUN applies an integrated approach that estimates risks along the complete lifecycles of nano-enabled products. It aims to give clear answers to questions from regulatory authorities, and open new possibilities for innovators to design greener nanotechnologies. This will be achieved through development and application of new methods and tools for prediction of long-term exposure, effects and risks for humans and ecosystems (services), practices for risk prevention and management and tools to streamline effective decision making about safer products and processes. In order to achieve this, SUN will combine Risk Assessment and Lifecycle Assessment to develop a user-friendly software-based Decision Support System (DSS) for practical use by industries and regulators. The industrial partners in SUN will validate the DSS against real case studies in terms of risk/benefit and insurance costs. This validation will culminate in guidelines for safe nanoscale product and process design.