Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry

“Green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use.”

–          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

As the natural personal care product market grows, companies are looking for innovative ways to utilize natural ingredients while still creating an effective product. In doing so, green chemistry is advancing, and companies are mixing naturally sourced ingredients with safer, effective synthetic ingredients.  We realize that not every product on the market can or will use only natural ingredients, but at least some companies who do use synthetics in their formulations are consciously making an effort vis-à-vis green chemistry to provide a product that is both safer for personal use and the environment.

While green chemistry does not ensure the absolute safety of the products we use, it is a definitive step in the right direction.  The backbone of green chemistry still consists of chemicals and chemical processes, but it is designed to reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts.

Green chemistry continues to evolve. Companies are updating and innovating manufacturing processes and a number of benefits are following, including reducing waste, pollution, energy and resources, using non-toxic components, and creating safer products.  The EPA has created Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry to serve as a guide for green chemists who want to reduce their environmental impact

Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry

  1. Prevention
    It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created.
  2. Atom Economy
    Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
  3. Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
    Wherever practicable, synthetic methods should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
  4. Designing Safer Chemicals
    Chemical products should be designed to effect their desired function while minimizing their toxicity.
  5. Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries
    The use of auxiliary substances (e.g., solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used.
  6. Design for Energy Efficiency
    Energy requirements of chemical processes should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. If possible, synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.
  7. Use of Renewable Feedstocks
    A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practicable.
  8. Reduce Derivatives
    Unnecessary derivatization (use of blocking groups, protection/ deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be minimized or avoided if possible, because such steps require additional reagents and can generate waste.
  9. Catalysis
    Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
  10. Design for Degradation
    Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they break down into innocuous degradation products and do not persist in the environment.
  11. Real-time analysis for Pollution Prevention
    Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
  12. Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention
    Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, originally published by Paul Anastas and John Warner in Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press: New York, 1998).

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Posted by on Mar 16th, 2011 and filed under FEATURED ARTICLES. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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