the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry
It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.
- Atom Economy
Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
- Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
- Designing Safer Chemicals
Chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.
- Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.
- Design for Energy Efficiency
Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
- Use of Renewable Feedstocks
A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.
- Reduce Derivatives
Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.
Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
- Design for Degradation
Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.
- Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention
Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
- Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention
Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.
Anastas, P. T.; Warner, J. C.; Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York, 1998.
Sustainable Future: the 12 Principles
Principle Centered Design
The principles of green chemistry provides a framework for scientists and engineers to use when designing new materials, products, processes, and systems. The principles focus on sustainable design criteria and have proven to be the source of innovative solutions to a wide range of problems. Green chemistry and green engineering embrace this power of design. If we use it wisely, we can make significant contributions in the drive toward sustainability for the simultaneous benefit of the environment, economy, and society.
A Universal Approach
Read through the titles of the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry - Does it sound familiar? Perhaps even a little like common sense?
Pollution Prevention, Economy, Less Hazard, Safe Design, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Feedstocks, Design for Degradation, Accident Prevention... the basic concepts behind the 12 Principles are applicable to the production and manufacture of any "consumable" or product, not just chemicals.
In our own lives, we recycle, reuse, turn off lights we're not using and consolidate car trips to use less fuel. Some people make an effort to minimize their home waste by eliminating disposable products and minimizing products that come in lots of packaging.
As much as the science of Green Chemistry requires an interdisciplinary effort between many fields in science, the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry are a universal sustainable approach to any science.