March 23, 2010
Green Chemistry Will Guide US Into A Sustainable Future
Scientific advances in a rapidly emerging field termed "green chemistry" offer the brightest promise for guiding the American economy into a new era of sustainability, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's top R&D official said yesterday.
Paul T. Anastas, Ph.D., assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Research and Development, described that future epoch as one in which people use water, air, energy, and other resources in ways that meet current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Anastas delivered the keynote address at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held this week. More than 1,600 of the 12,000 technical presentations on the ACS' agenda are devoted to sustainability, which is the central theme of a meeting expected to draw more than 18,000 scientists and others.
"Green chemistry is the chemistry of sustainability and sustainability is our true north," said Anastas. "Chemists, chemical engineers and our colleagues throughout scientific community can forge the path forward; together their innovation will lead the way."
Some regard Anastas as the "Father of Green Chemistry," an approach that strives to incorporate 12 principles (http://www.chempower.org/principles.html) into the design, manufacture, and disposal of products throughout the economy. Those principles include prevention of waste, use of safer chemicals and renewable raw materials, and designing products that break down when discarded without persisting in the environment.
"Everybody wins with green chemistry," said Anastas. "We can have a vibrant economy and a healthier environment because of the use and development of innovative and sustainable technologies."
Anastas cited significant progress in embracing green chemistry and green engineering, predicted that the pace will increase, and expressed confidence that the economy will become sustainable.
"There's an amazing amount of this kind of out-of-box thinking going on now," Anastas said. "These remarkable innovations are moving us closer to the day when green chemistry becomes standard and is recognized for what it truly is: A way to boost profits and increase productivity while protecting the environment and human health."
Before joining the EPA, Anastas was the Director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, and the inaugural Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Anastas previously was the founding Director of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute, headquartered at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C.
Image Caption: Advances in "green chemistry" could guide the American economy into a new era of sustainability, said Paul Anastas, Ph.D., of the U. S. EPA at the American Chemical Society's 239th National Meeting. Credit: epa.gov
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