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Product Delivery

Product Use

End of Life

Alternative feedstocks (minimising petrochemicals)

Waste minimisation (in mining and refining)

Solvent substitution (avoiding VOCs)

Alternative routes/reduced number of process steps

Catalysis (especially heterogenisation) Intensive processing

Alternative energy sources

Degradable packaging Precious metal catalyst (etc) rental

Safer chemicals Environmentally benign chemicals

Biodegradable products

Recyclable products ‘Benign-by-design’


Chemical Technology

Basic Principles of Green Chemistry

A combination of existing and new drivers makes it more likely that Green Chemistry will become increasingly important in the short term, and essential in the longer term.

By Professor James H. Clark and Dr Paul Smith, Clean Technology Centre, Department of Chemistry, University of York

Professor James Clark has an international reputation for his work in Green Chemistry and is a Founding Director of

the Green Chemistry Network. He was the founding Scientific Editor of the world’s leading journal in the field, Green Chemistry, and is also an author of numerous books on the subject. He now holds the Chair of Industrial & Applied Chemistry at York University (UK), and heads the Clean Technology Centre which integrates Green Chemistry research, industrial collaboration and educational developments and issues relevant to the public understanding of science. He is also the Director of the Greenchemistry Centre of Industrial Collaboration. Professor Clark’s research interests include heterogeneous catalysis and supported reagents and the exploitation of renewable resources. He has won medals

and other awards for his research from the RSC, SCI, RSA and the EU.

Dr Paul Smith, BSc CChem FRSC, is currently the Commercial Manager of the Greenchemistry Centre of Industrial Collaboration based at York University (UK). He gained his first degree in Chemistry from the University of Nottingham (UK) and his PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK). His background is Chemical Development in the pharmaceutical industry, having worked for over 20 years at GlaxoSmithKline. The major focus of his work was to ensure that initial high quality supplies of potential new drug candidates were rapidly made available and that subsequent manufacturing routes would be developed in a safe, robust, efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sound manner. He also led a ‘Green Team’ which promoted Green Chemistry within the company.

Green Chemistry is the universally accepted term to describe the movement towards more environmentally acceptable and sustainable chemical processes and products (1). It encompasses education and promotional work, as well as research and commercial application of cleaner technologies – some old and some new (2).

While Green Chemistry is widely accepted as an essential development in the way that we practice chemistry, and is vital to sustainable development, its application has been fragmented and represents only a small fraction of today’s chemical education and chemical manufacturing. However, a combination of existing and new drivers now makes it more likely that it will become increasingly important in the short term, and essential in the longer term. These drivers include the increasing proportion of process costs due to energy and waste, availability and cost issues for traditional petroleum-based feedstocks, and perhaps most significantly the dramatic increase in legislation affecting chemical production, storage, use and disposal.

In Europe, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Assessment of Chemicals) will come into force this decade and will undoubtedly be the most important chemicals-related legislation in living memory (3). Its effects are as yet unclear, but conservative estimates suggest that about 10% of existing chemicals will become restricted, prohibitively expensive or unavailable.

REACH and other new legislation is also likely to bring many consumer product related chemicals to the public’s attention, and we have often seen how even the suggestion of a health or environmental-related problem

Figure 1: Application of clean technologies for Green Chemistry throughout the life-cycle of a chemical product

Innovations in Pharmaceutical Technology

Image | Alternative feedstocks (minimising petrochemicals)

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