Life = Chemistry

Sustainable management of chemicals is an essential part of the transition to a sustainable world.  

The Natural Step’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a fully sustainable society. This will be the challenge of the 21st century. It entails achieving all the UN SDGs and more. We can only accomplish these goals if we manage to transition from linear to circular approaches, learn to manage materials and chemicals sustainably and cultivate trust.

Green Chemistry, Sustainable Chemistry and Sustainable Chemicals? 

Many leading orgnizations are recognizing the need for a major rethink on how we connect the dots between chemicals and sustainability. Approaches such as the 12 principles of Green Chemistry are taking off at the molecular level while a growing range of assessment schemes are seeking to evaluate the chemicals used in products, to find better alternatives, improve product lifecycle management and encourage better disclosure of corporate chemical management practices. Despite a lack of universally agreed defintions or approaches, the question increasingly asked is how can we unlock the potential of chemicals to contribute to sustainability?

We are eager to partner with more proactive organizations that prioritize sustainable chemical management, both within and outside the chemical sector. Our point of departure is a science-based definition of sustainability and a strategic framework to develop integrated strategies that target all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. After all, life is all about chemistry.

A transition is different from making incremental adjustments to existing conditions, organisations and structures. We need to fundamentally re-imagine the way we organize ourselves, and the ways we extract, design, produce and use materials. This requires changes on individual, organisational and system level (the three levels of our Theory of Change).

Competence development  

We offer a range of opportunities for building competencies in sustainable chemical and material management, from e-learning and short open courses, to in-house trainings and professional development programmes at industry scale. 

Regardless of your role in an organisation or position in the value chain we can help you build your capabilities to…


Understand the requirements for sustainable management of chemicals and translate them into actionable programs


Use a proactive, science-based approach to anticipate and stay ahead of regulation, and avoid regrettable substitutions


Integrate different sustainability models, concepts and tools, such as the SDGs, Circular Economy, ISO14001, risk and hazard reduction, Green Chemistry Principles and more.

The Natural Step ran an innovative course on sustainable development for the emerging leaders of one of the world’s largest corporations:

“ The Emerging Leaders course, designed and delivered for us by TNS, was a great success and enabled our best young talent to get a hold of sustainable development and what it means for Dow”.

Mark Weick
Lead Director, Sustainability and Enterprise Risk Management, 
The Dow Chemical Company 

Support for companies 

We have successfully worked with public and private organizations globally including IKEA, Dow, Ineos, Nike, Elektrolux, Interface and many others. In applying our method, these companies developed visionary and proactive sustainability programs – incl. Sustainable chemicals management – anticipating legislation, saving costs and developing circular solutions long before it was in vogue. 

We help leading organisations in the chemical sector and downstream value chains to…


Integrate sustainability into core business, culture and operations at all levels


Apply sustainability principles to evaluate materials, product innovation and value chains


Initiate collaboration and build trust between stakeholders to solve shared challenges related to complex considerations around chemicals and other sustainability topics

“Through dedicated training courses and general support The Natural Step helps us to keep abreast of the sustainable development agenda, think strategically about our products and services, and we’re benefiting from TNS’s long experience and scientific analysis in this growing field.”

Alexander Hofer
Chief Sales Officer, Chemson Polymer-Additive AG

Transforming sectors and value chains

We have a broad experience in creating industry roadmaps for sustainable chemical management. Our framework creates common language and shared ambitions which are critical for, and support, successful cooperation between diverse stakeholders. See also the landmark 2019 UNEP Global Chemical Outlook II to which we contributed, which gives an overview of what is going on globally regarding the (sound management of) chemicals.

Through our Sustainability Transition Labs we can help to…


Identify common challenges that can only be solved through collaboration, and define the responsibilities through which all actors can play their part


Unite actors around a positive vision of success for an industry, material or value chain


Define targets and priorities to track and communicate progress and bridge the gap


Have a credible and holistic plan for enhancing sector competitiveness in a changing world

“The Natural Step helps us be clear about what we have to do to find a place for PVC on the sustainability agenda. They continue to act as critical friend and sustainability mentor, keeping us to the task and increasing our sustainable development capacity”

Brigitte Dero

General Manager, VinylPlus, the European PVC Industry 10 year voluntary commitment to sustainable development. 

We offer you…

... cutting-edge expertise and committed, long-term partnership to achieve your business goals within sustainability principles.


... guidance in making decisions between conflicting goals and solutions.


... a shared language for sustainability and circular economy.

... a framework that integrates different models, concepts and tools to make best use of all.

... a method to plan in a complex and uncertain environment.

... a way to create consensus between stakeholders with different goals and priorities.

... integration of sustainability to the long term strategy of a business.

... proven experience in sustainability-driven business strategies and results.

EU industry roadmap

VinylPlus is the voluntary sustainable development programme of the European PVC industry. It aims at creating a long-term sustainability framework for the entire PVC value chain.

The VinylPlus programme was developed bottom-up in industry workshops and through an open dialogue with all stakeholders, including NGOs, regulators, public representatives and users of PVC. Each of the five key challenges is based on The Natural Step System Conditions for a Sustainable Society.

The UN pointed it out as a collaboration case and for action on multiple UN SDGs.

A critical friend

The Natural Step acts as an external advisor, stakeholder intermediary and capacity builder to VinylPlus. Our comments are based on our ‘outside-in’ sustainability perspective on the industry and from engaging directly with VinylPlus throughout the years. Download our commentary for 2019 »

Contact TNS Chemicals coalition

General enquiries about our work in this area can be sent to:

You can contact our chemicals team members directly, or alternatively contact your nearest TNS office.

Richard Blume

Senior Advisor
Sweden, EU

+46 76 8 43 21 96

Edwin Janssen

Senior Advisor
Germany, EU

+31 62 60 78 987

Patrik Sandin

Director China

+86 186 2069 8850

Antonio Vasconcelos

Executive Director
Portugal, TNSI chair

+351 96 260 45 01