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Marketplace wants to "uberize" safer chemicals

Honored Contributor
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By Mr. Philip Krook, Communications Officer, ChemSec

Last week I heard a word that I had never heard before. It was a term explaining a phenomenon that has skyrocketed in the last years. The word was uberization.

At the time, I could already guess the meaning behind the expression seeing as I knew about the company from which the term is derived, but when I got home I still wanted to look it up because it really rang true to a project that we are working on in my organization.

An explanation I found on the internet stated that the term refers to “the utilization of computing platforms in order to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions between clients and providers of a service, often bypassing the role of centrally planned corporations”.

Wait, had I accidentally clicked on something that sent me straight to the project description of Marketplace?

Let me back up a little bit.

I work for ChemSec, a non-profit organization working towards a future free from hazardous chemicals. We work closely with decision makers and companies, advocating progressive legislation and sustainable chemicals management.

Working closely with corporate chemicals management has made us aware of a problem that many companies have when it comes to phasing out hazardous chemicals in their products and supply chains. They do not know where to find safer alternatives, and oftentimes they do not even know what they are supposed to look for since information regarding these alternatives is not readily available to them.

At the same time, we saw all these small start-ups popping up with innovative technical processes and alternative materials that would be game-changers in the industry if they only had the opportunity to market them. We also knew about large chemical producers that already had safer alternatives in their portfolios but for various reasons did not actively promote them.

The solution was quite obvious to us. We needed to connect supply with demand.

“Let’s uberize it!”, someone… did not say in a meeting. But someone might as well have, because that is exactly what we are trying to do. We want to enable potential customers to be put into direct contact with potential providers of safer chemical alternatives, eliminating the role of the middle man.

So, we created Marketplace.

Marketplace is a meeting point where buyers and sellers of safer chemical alternatives can interact. The website is meant to be a hub, similar to eBay, Craigslist or… well, Uber. If you are looking for an alternative you post a request, if you have a safe alternative you advertise it. If you are unsure you can just scroll through all the ads, using filters for chemical functions, industry or a specific hazardous chemical that you are looking to substitute.

A year into its development cycle, a wide range of stakeholders already recognize the potential in Marketplace. Large retailer brands, big chemical producers and small start-ups are posting more and more advertisements and requests, and European legislators and green chemistry leaders in the U.S. use Marketplace to stay updated on the latest alternatives and industry trends.

Hopefully, this uberization of safer chemical alternatives will lead to a much swifter phaseout of toxic chemicals in products and supply chains, while at the same time promoting the production of safer chemical alternatives instead of the hazardous ones.

If it has worked for hospitality, transportation and random consumer goods, then why shouldn’t it work for chemicals as well?

Learn more about ChemSec Marketplace in this upcoming webinar with Northwest Green Chemistry:

ChemSec Marketplace and its role in advancing safer alternatives: Focus on phthalates

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

10-11 a.m. PT

Register Here