Green chemistry has a ways to go yet before it reaches the mainstream. The Green Chemistry & Commerce Council is already in its tenth year of operation and it spans over 70 companies. Multiple projects have been undertaken for the purposes of advancing the R&D of green chemistry. Combined, these initiatives serve the purposes of enhancing the flow of chemical information via supply chains. A decade ago, the barriers in green chemistry included resistance to change, lack of awareness and data, incomplete information, and performance-related criteria.
Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) members were surveyed in 2014 and various criteria were listed as obstacles to fostering green chemistry solutions. The problems included high costs related to scaling and research, and the shortfall in economic and technical options. Three reports were commissioned for the tenth innovators Roundtable conference.
According to recent reports, there are many promising opportunities for the implementation of green chemistry. However, the main issue is that green chemistry activity is sporadic and mostly a knee-jerk reaction to problems. Many barriers remain in green chemistry implementation however, including lack of demand, market confusion, price and performance issues, incumbency, worries about switching risk, supply chain complexity, and a shortage of analytical data on economic opportunities.
The challenges are not without solutions however. There are multiple enablers in place to address the misalignment in the supply chain. These include a better understanding of the marketplace, driving innovation with market forces, increased collaboration across the entire value chain, the development and procurement of smart policies, increased consumer awareness, and better education for the upcoming generation of new leaders in the chemical industry.
Presently, green chemistry redesigns all the chemicals and products that comprise our economy and our society. These include, but are not limited to, all the materials that transport, generate and store energy resources and make them benign to the environment and to humans. This lends itself to the sustainable nature of the green chemistry approach. For the most part, green chemistry runs on the mantra that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By minimizing the hazardous elements of chemical production, risks are limited when accidents occur.
As it stands, green chemistry has not yet gone mainstream. Green chemistry has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint on the environment by enhancements in solvent technologies, catalysis, and synthetic efficiency. However, the evolution of green chemistry is changing rapidly. The growth of value-chain collaboration is increasing and there are multiple new chemistries being developed. In terms of awareness and education, that too is growing. However, the real challenge for green chemistry is to take the game to the mass market from its current niche form.