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What is green chemistry?

Green chemistry involves inventing, designing and applying chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. It involves 12 principles that have been widely adopted:

  • - it is better to prevent waste than to treat it or clean up after it
  • - incorporate all materials into the final product without unwanted side products
  • - where practicable, substances should be used and generated that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment
  • - chemical products should be designed to do the job while minimising toxicity
  • - the use of auxiliary substances (solvents, separation agents, etc) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and innocuous when used
  • - energy requirements of chemical processes should be minimised
  • - raw materials should be renewable whenever technically and economically practicable
  • - unnecessary use of derivatives (blocking groups, protection/de-protection, etc) generate waste and should be minimised or avoided if possible
  • - catalytic reagents, which can carry out a single reaction many times, are superior to stoichiometric reagents which only work once
  • - chemical products should be designed to degrade innocuously at the end of their function
  • for pollution prevention - analytical methodologies are needed for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formulation of hazardous substances
  • for accident prevention - substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen to minimise the potential for chemical accidents

For more information on the 12 principles, use the green chemistry tool on the Envirowise website (registration required) - Opens in a new window.

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