The Challenges for Green Chemistry
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The Challenges for Green Chemistry

The Challenges for Green Chemistry

The Challenges for Green Chemistry

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.

Promising Opportunities for Green Chemistry

The Challenges for Green Chemistry

The Challenges for Green Chemistry

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.

The Future of Green Chemistry

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.

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  1. zasky says:

    I’ve just read your other post about falling oil prices and the $146 billion plan for 2015 to keep investing which should turn in 2020.

    Is it not better to invest more into green chemistry where the future clearly lies? it may be years away now, but that will be due to a lack of funding for it as we are unsure how well it can be monetised. If we spent even $50 billion on green chemistry it would push it a lot further and there would still be an ideal amount for current ethylene production to grow for the future.

    If we pursue green chemistry through this we may be abel to produce an organic form of ethylene and not require the oil which would make our production capacity even better and potentially even cheaper.

  2. rachel says:

    I, too, feel as though there is a lack of money going toward the research and development of Green Chemistry. The only way to establish grounds for a healthy, reliable, and organic energy source that is comparable to oil is to study and gather as much information as possible. The oil taps are running dry and we do not have any solutions as of yet that will be able to sustain today’s lifestyle and rate of consumption.

  3. Roger Farrington says:

    I’m really excited by the prospect of using genetically engineered organisms to replace the need to drill for oil in order to provide the reagents for organic chemical engineering – not only will this mean that products become cheaper, and reduce their carbon footprint, but they will also allow the west to become less reliant on the importation of oil from unstable regions of the world.

  4. Zoe Barns says:

    Many chemistry researchers are still uninformed about green chemistry, and this is probably one of the greatest challenges in the mainstream adoption of green chemistry principles.

  5. Christine Wenger says:

    I am glad to hear that some of the challenges to widespread green chemistry adoption can be successfully addressed. I agree that greater consumer education about green chemistry would make it more mainstream. I look forward to the day when green chemistry becomes commonplace; it is essential for the health of our planet.