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Basic Introduction of Green Chemistry
Green chemistry, also known as sustainable chemistry, is the design of chemical products and processes that serve to reduce or eliminate hazardous substances. With a green chemistry approach, we can better protect people and the environment by reducing and even preventing hazards and pollution.
Green chemistry is about a holistic approach to chemicals and their processes. J&K understands that proactively reducing hazards and pollution at the source is far superior to cleaning up once damage is already done. We are committed to innovative scientific solutions that minimize the impacts of all aspects of a chemical product’s life cycle, from design and manufacturing, to use, and ultimately disposal.
Our approach to green chemistry targets pollution at its source by minimizing or eliminating hazardous feedstocks, reagents, solvents, and products. We embrace green chemistry technologies that reduce or eliminate the involvement of hazardous chemicals, and are constantly striving to discover and develop new and better green products and processes.
12 Principles of Green Chemistry
These 12 principles, published by Paul Anastas and John Warner in 1998, illustrate the far reaching potential of embracing green chemistry:
Prevention: Design chemical syntheses to prevent waste, rather than try to clean it up.
Maximize atom economy: Design syntheses to maximize incorporation of the atoms of the reactants into the desired product. Waste few or no atoms.
Less hazardous chemical syntheses: Design syntheses to use and generate substances with little or no toxicity to either humans or the environment.
Safer chemicals: Design products that are fully effective with little or no toxicity.
Safer solvents and reaction conditions: The use of auxiliary substances (e.g. solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and, innocuous when used.
Energy efficiency: Run chemical reactions at ambient temperature and pressure whenever possible in recognition of the environmental impacts of energy use.
Renewable feedstocks: A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depletable whenever possible.
Avoid chemical derivatives: Avoid using blocking or protecting groups or any temporary modifications if possible, because derivatives use additional reagents and generate waste.
Catalysis: Minimize waste by using catalysts (effective in small amounts, can carry out a single reaction many times) rather than stoichiometric reagents (used in excess and carry out a reaction only once).
Design for degradation: Design chemical products to break down to innocuous substances after use so that they do not accumulate in the environment.
Real-time analysis for pollution prevention: Develop in-process, real-time monitoring and control during syntheses to minimize or eliminate the formation of hazardous by-products.
Minimize accident potential: Design chemicals and their physical forms (solid, liquid, gas) to minimize the potential for chemical accidents including explosions, fires, and releases to the environment.
Benefits of Green Chemistry
When chemistry is practiced with the goal of being green, it benefits human health, the environment, business, and the economy as a whole.
- Cleaner air for healthier lungs. Cleaner water (reduced toxins in both drinking and recreational water) for healthier bodies.
- Workers are safer with less exposure to toxic materials; they require less personal protective equipment and there is less potential for accidents (e.g. fires or explosions). Industry benefits with more productive workers and reduced absenteeism.
- Customers are protected with safer consumer products.
- Food is safer with the elimination of persistent toxic chemicals that can enter the food chain.
- There is less exposure to toxic chemicals like endocrine disruptors that can disrupt normal human development.
- Green chemicals cause no harm to the environment. They either degrade to innocuous products or are recovered for further use.
- Plants and animals suffer less harm from toxic chemicals in the environment.
- Lower potential for global warming, ozone depletion, and smog formation.
- Less chemical disruption of ecosystems.
- Less use of landfills, especially hazardous waste landfills.
Economy and business
- Higher yields for chemical reactions.
- Fewer synthetic steps, often allowing faster manufacturing of products, increased production capacity, and energy and water savings.
- Reduced waste eliminates costly remediation efforts, hazardous waste disposal, and end-of-the-pipe treatments.
- Replacement of purchased depletable feedstocks by renewable waste products.
- Reduced use of petroleum products, slowing their depletion and avoiding their hazards and price fluctuations.
- Reduced manufacturing plant size or footprint through increased throughput.
- Increased consumer sales by earning and displaying a safer-product label (e.g. Safer Choice labeling from United States Environmental Protection Agency).
- Improved competitiveness of green chemical manufacturers and their customers.
- American Chemical Society
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Anastas, P. T.; Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York, 1998, p.30.