Green Chemistry: Status and Standards
November 6, 2013
Green chemistry has developed as a field of study, science- and engineering-based professions and business centered processes. This development grew from consumer demand for healthier and safer alternatives to food, clothing and construction.
As our previous posts show, green chemistry is not a new idea. For almost 30 years, it’s been developed and practiced by chemists and chemical engineers in the U.S. and overseas. The sidebar shows how ideas from academe, government and business emerge, interact and nudge society toward change.
Nudging Society Forward: Laws or Voluntary Standards?
Many professionals who teach and practice green chemistry recognize that its principles have been around for decades. Now, they reason, is the time to support and reinforce these principles in a clear and structured way. For some, this means professional and engineering standards and preferably voluntary standards. For others, it means state, regional, national or international laws to set the bar high, monitor processes and enforce desired outcomes.
Green Chemistry Standards and Laws
Green chemistry in 2013 is much like the early days of pollution abatement in the 1960s and 1970s. The underlying science is finding acceptance in academe and some corporate laboratories. But as far as taking action is concerned, it’s still early days.
A lot of green practitioners’ energy focuses on what types of standards and how much (if any) enforcement manufacturers and users need to practice green chemistry. This sample of green chemistry guidelines, standards and legislation in the U.S. and overseas is a good way to judge what’s happening in 2013.
Green chemistry promotes the design and development of more efficient—and less harmful—products and processes. Standards support this goal by providing ways to measure the performance of green chemical product and process design. Robert Peoples, Director of the Green Chemical Institute of the American Chemistry Society, takes the view that, “Voluntary standards allow the marketplace to drive the changes. It will take a long time, and there’s no single path or approach.” Here are two notable examples:
|Greener Chemicals and Processes Information Standard|
|Also known as NSF/GCI/ANSI 355, this new national standard provides a standardized way to define and report the environmental and human health hazards of a chemical product and its manufacturing process. Development of these standards was sponsored by the ACS CGI and third-party accreditor, NSF International. The project’s joint Committee was guided by two subcommittees and a balance of industry, nongovernmental, public health, academic, and government representatives. NSF International will certify reports to this standard. Users of a chemical who receive a certified NSF/GCI/ANSI 355 report from their suppliers can be assured the report data is accurate, complete and current.|
|Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement|
|This longstanding agreement represents regional standards development before green chemistry came into being. Building on language originally written for the U.S. Clean Water Act in the 1970s, this non-binding agreement between the U.S. and Canada has been a pillar of Great Lakes chemicals policy on both sides of the border.|
Find out who is leading the way in green chemistry action. How does the United States stack up in the global fight for a cleaner world through good science?
The future can be cleaner.
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