Tuesday, 24 May 2005 - 11:25 AM

This presentation is part of: Green Chemistry I

Green Chemistry: Current Status and Future Challenges

David Highfield, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC

Green chemistry is a science-based, non-regulatory and economically driven approach to environmental protection and sustainable development. The approach has been utilized in a number of industrialized and developing nations with extremely positive results in terms of both protection of human health and the environment as well as significant economic benefit to the industrial interests involved.

Green chemistry is chemistry for pollution prevention which strives to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. This scope explicitly does not include approaches such as waste treatment, waste control or re-mediation even though these elements are recognized as important, but separate, elements of an environmental protection programs. There is a need for initiatives that design products and processes such that these environmental problems never occur. This is the focus of green chemistry.

Green chemistry includes products and processes. This means that not only the final product can be designed to be non-hazardous but also each of the intermediate transformations are designed so that they don't use or generate hazardous substances. There is an implicit consideration life cycle impacts with the scope of sustainable chemistry. Although traditionally pollution prevention was thought to focus on waste reduction sustainable chemistry includes and expands this focus to all stages of the life cycle. The importance of this expansion is seen through commonly reported achievements from industry where the greatest economic and environmental benefits are being realized as much in the early stages of production or product life cycle as they are in the latter stages.

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