Green Chemistries and Clean Technology Solutions:

Green chemicals, sustainable or renewable feedstocks, renewable energy resources, waste-to-energy opportunities, waste stream reuse opportunities, etc.

The “green” chemistry movement, pioneered by EPA chemist Paul Anastas, was started to help meet increasingly stringent environmental standards. The goal of green chemistry is best summarized by the following:

“[Green Chemistry is] about making industrial chemistry safer, cleaner and more energy-efficient throughout the product's life cycle, from synthesis to clean-up to disposal. It's about using renewable feedstocks wherever possible, carrying out reactions at ambient temperature and pressure — and above all, minimizing or eliminating toxic waste from the outset, instead of constantly paying to clean up messes after the fact” – Anastas

Green chemistries and clean technology create solutions for higher energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact of chemical processes. The scope of green chemistry and engineering includes replacements for hazardous substances, energy conservation, waste reduction, and life cycle considerations such as the use of more sustainable or renewable feedstocks and designing for end of life or the final disposition of the product. Examples of uses of clean technology as it relates to chemicals include:

  • Green chemicals derived from plants and vegetables, that make use of the chemical and colloidal properties of certain plant extracts, and are therefore easily or quickly biodegradable and do not have harmful side effects

  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing methods leading to a reduction in the plant’s E-factor (ratio of waste per kilogram of product

  • Redesigning the whole chemical production process where the products and the by-products of one reaction are reused as the starting materials for another process or waste energy from one process is used to warm up feedstock of another process

  • Plastics that are made from renewable, biodegradable sources, and quickly degrade in municipal or industrial composting systems

  • Safer, VOC-reducing paints created from biobased oils instead of petroleum-based solvents

Despite significant drops in waste production via use of clean technology and greener chemical processes, changes have been incremental and built on existing practices. Factors such as cost, further access to capital, the go-to-market approach, and regulation have varying levels of influence on which technologies are economically feasible, and there is tremendous room for innovation.

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