what is green chemistry?
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce and/or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. This approach requires an open and interdisciplinary view of material and product design, applying the principle that it is better to consider waste and hazard prevention options during the design and development phase, rather than disposing, treating and handling waste and hazardous chemicals after a process or material has been developed.
Green chemistry is an opportunity for introducing innovative solutions to chemical problems and applying sustainability towards molecular design. Chemists have the ability to design products and processes that have reduced impacts on humans and the environment and therefore creating sustainable chemical building blocks for materials and products in our society.
Learn about how our sister organization, the Warner Babcock Institute, is inventing greener solutions for industrial applications.
Green chemistry products that are successful in the marketplace must accomplish three things
It must be
more environmentally benign than an existing alternative
It must be
more economically viable than an existing alternative
It must be
functionally equivalent to or outperform existing alternatives
12 principles of green chemistry
frequently asked questions
Is Green Chemistry more expensive?
No. Greener chemical processes can result in a tremendous benefit to the economic bottom line. It is more expensive to use and generate hazardous chemicals due to the many costs associated with their use – disposal, regulatory, exposure controls, etc. Organizations who implement green chemistry in their laboratories often see reduction in costs associated with the greener processes.
How do scientists design out hazards?
By teaching chemists about what makes a molecule toxic (to the environment and to humans). Traditionally, throughout the education of a chemist, training is absent of chemical toxicity and environmental impact. Chemists have traditionally not been taught how to design safer chemicals and chemical processes. Green Chemistry seeks to merge an understanding of toxicology with the knowledge of synthetic design of molecules in order to create the next generation of safe chemicals and products.
Why Green Chemistry Education?
By integrating Green Chemistry concepts throughout our educational systems, from K through 20, scientists can be better prepared to create innovative solutions to global challenges through molecular design, and citizens can better understand the importance, and the impact, of the chemicals we use in our daily lives. Learn more about our Theory of Change to understand how Green Chemistry Education is central to a sustainable planet and healthy population.