7. Safechem


Chlorinated solvents are used to degrease metallic parts. These types of products pollute for centuries when there are split in water or on land. Other processes exist, generally less efficient and not always cleaner. A wave of protest reigned over Germany and rumors of banning the use of chlorinated solvents appeared at the end of the nineties. The market collapsed, and stakeholders (Enviromental Party, NGOs) pointed the finger these products.

The German subsidiary of Dow Chemicals is worried and searching for a solution.



Karl Stützle who is entrusted this puzzle imagines a waterproof apparatus in which the solvent is just one element of the provision. The user plugs their container with the clean solvent to the entry of an airtight washing tray and an empty container at the end. Once the end container is full of the used solvant, the user returns it to Safechem, a new company created for this process within the Dow chemicals, who recycles the end container.



The solvants no longer appear dirty:

–  The quantities produces are considerably less

–  The operators are no longer exposed to unleashed vapors

–  The client no longer needs to manager polluted waste


Key points

Dow chemicals, abandons an activity based on turnover of a consumables and Safechem develops an activity based on added value of a sustainable product associated to a service.

This was possible through the creation of equipment.

The percentage of solvent saved is up to 92%.

Safechem’s market share went from 6% to 50% in 5 years.


Essential remarks :

The product used is still the same, the use is the same; the area protecting the operator is nothing more than a technological breakthrough.

This is indeed and breakthrough organizational innovation, without any technological innovations.

However, it is probable and cheaper to succeed an organizational innovation than a technological innovation.

This is one of the major assets of the functional service economy.


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