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Contributed By Rui Resendes, Executive Director, GreenCentre Canada


I belong to a diverse group of technology professionals broadly referred to as “chemists.” As chemists (or chemical engineers) most of us would describe ourselves as manipulators of molecules who endeavor to advance our science or create new products.  Sadly, few of us celebrate the fact that we are much more than that!


Chemistry (and the chemical industry) is at the heart of everything; it underpins society’s quality of life and economy.  It has enabled every technology revolution since the Stone Age and will continue to provide humanity with solutions to the most profound challenges.


So, what is the problem?  Why are we denied the limelight that shines on our divinized doctors, actors and sports celebrities?  It’s simple. The vast majority vilifies us as society’s boogeymen. In a world that exalts the virtues of “chemical-free” alternatives, chemists are not seen as a source of solutions but rather as creators of the problem. Amidst unprecedented environmental and sustainability challenges, society fails to rally its support around us because they do not understand that we are the ones with the solutions.


This simply must change. Our quality of life depends on it.


At GreenCentre Canada, we mobilize sustainable chemical innovations through education and “hands on” commercialization. With our chemical industry stakeholders and technology innovators, we bridge the gap that keeps critical solutions from the marketplace. Through our Hug A Chemist campaign, we issue a call to arms to chemistry students and professionals who seek to change the world through sustainable innovation. But we need your help. Together we can incite a global sustainability revolution that puts science ahead of propaganda, innovation ahead of complacency and urgency ahead of vacillation.Together, we can change the world.


Learn how you can change the world at




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Have you ever wondered if your little pocket-sized tube of hand-sanitizer really works on germs?  Or more importantly, have you ever wondered if it’s really safe to your health?


The ugly truth is that many anti-bacterial hand-sanitizers contain harmful ingredients such as synthetic fragrances, quaternary ammonium, and the infamous triclosan. Research has shown that over time, some of these ingredients can alter hormone regulation, reduce muscle strength, and even harm the immune system.  Now, where is the safety in that?  Recently, members of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (ACS GCI) staff set out to discover an effective and greener alternative to common antibacterial hand-sanitizers and took the experiment on the road!


On July 19-21, 2014, ACS GCI partnered with ACS Diversity Programs at the 2014 National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Family Expo in Los Angeles, California for three fun-filled days of green chemistry education and outreach!  NCLR is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States that works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.  In efforts to further the advocacy of green chemistry throughout the global chemical enterprise, this was a partnership opportunity that we could not pass up!



During our outreach venture, ACS GCI staff and volunteers conducted what we like to call the “Clean & Green Hands” table-top experiment that allowed over 600 children to make their own homemade hand-sanitizer using only rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel, and organic essential oils.  That’s right, just three simple ingredients were used to make hand-sanitizer that is effective and less toxic to the body!


There you have it, another example of how green chemistry can be used in everyday life.  Take the time, and use creativity to make your life greener!



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Contributed by Vani Nadarajah, Director of Admissions for Executive MBA and Global Programs, Yale School of Management


The Yale School of Management’s (SOM) MBA for Executives program kicked off in 2005 with an exclusive focus in healthcare. This year the School’s MBA for Executives offered the choice of three focus areas: asset management, sustainability and healthcare. SOM has been increasing its sustainability faculty pool, content and initiatives, in recognition of the growing importance of sustainable thinking in the business community.


anastas.jpegThe program’s faculty director for sustainability, prominent green chemist, Professor Paul Anastas acknowledges: “For half a century we have dealt with traditional sustainability issues by thinking about what you cannot do. There has been a transformation to thinking about what you can create, invent and innovate by aligning sustainability issues with economic drivers and market forces.” Cue a sustainability curriculum that draws on expertise from across Yale University. With appointments throughout Yale in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Department of Chemistry, Department of Chemical Engineering and the School of Management, Anastas is well placed to lead a ground-breaking, multi-disciplinary curriculum.


The Yale SOM’s Senior Associate Dean David Bach explains: “You don’t have to be an environmentalist to realize that doing more with less (water/energy/materials) is already a business imperative that will only become stronger. At Yale SOM, we hope to cultivate leaders who can be 'translators' within their organizations, managers plugged into the science community who can make the business case for more sustainable products and processes, and lead the change that will make them happen. Yale is ideally positioned to accomplish this due to the close collaboration between the School of Management and sister schools like the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, evidenced by a core group of faculty members with joint appointments and hundreds of joint degree alumni.”




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By David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


It’s been an incredibly eventful summer for Green Chemistry starting with the 18th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference that I wrote about in my June column. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy (Colorado), the Gordon Conference on Green Chemistry (Hong Kong), the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco, and as I write this article, I am at the 5th International IUPAC Conference on Green Chemistry (Durban, South Africa). Next week I will be meeting with members of the Global Green Chemistry Centresfor their second annual meeting to be held in Cape Town, South Africa.


Colorado School of Minesresize.jpg

The ACS Summer School is a bona fide green chemistry institution that Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, the ACS Education Director has been running since 2003. About 60 students from the U.S., Canada and Latin America attend each year and it’s always very gratifying to see how many lifelong relationships are established there each year. For many of the students, it is the very first time they experience an in-depth look at energy and what is being done to develop more sustainable forms of energy. It’s also an opportunity to see what green chemistry is about and students are encouraged to consider how they might integrate it into their research.  Mary does a great job shepherding the students through the challenging week and constructs a well-rounded and memorable program.


For those of you who have not been to a Gordon Conference before, they are small, intimate conferences that provide a considerable amount of time for extended conversations. This year’s organizers were Professor Ken Seddon from Queen’s University, Belfast, and Dr. Mark Harmer of DuPont and they put together a truly diverse, interesting, international conference. While most who attend these conferences are academics, the conference itself was geared towards the industrial implementation of green chemistry. And because it was held in Hong Kong, it was a great privilege to hear how green chemistry is being implemented in China and other parts of Asia. There are many green chemistry challenges and even more opportunities to effect positive green chemistry changes in the rapidly expanding chemical enterprise throughout Asia.


Because I was in the region, I joined an ACS delegation to the Chinese Chemical Society National Congress in Beijing. The last time the CCS National Congress was held in 2012, there were 3,000 attendees; this time, there were 8,000. During this meeting I had the privilege to meet with Professor Buxing Han of the Institute of Chemistry, the Chinese Academy of Sciences who is the CCS lead for Green Chemistry. Professor Han has a large and very active program in several areas of green chemistry including greener solvents. There is a considerable amount of fundamental research in energy and green chemistry being done in China, and it’s somewhat breathtaking to see. Professor Han is joined by many colleagues throughout China investigating most areas of chemistry and seeking to implement greener approaches in the growing chemical enterprise. From China I flew to San Francisco to participate in the 248th ACS National Meeting. There is always a lot of green chemistry-related sessions at National Meetings.  Since the environmental division was celebrating its 100 year anniversary, they were sponsoring more than the usual number of green chemistry sessions. There were also a lot of green chemistry and closely related sessions in many of the divisions with high quality content. It’s always a challenge to decide which sessions and which papers to attend – a good problem to have.


As I mentioned, I’m currently in Durban at the 5th International IUPAC conference on Green Chemistry. As you may know, IUPAC has had an effort in Green Chemistry that goes back many years, largely through the efforts of Professor Pietro Tundo of Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia. This is another more intimate international conference that has drawn just under 200 people from across Africa, Europe, Latin America, India, the U.S. and Asia. It is great to see that green chemistry and good science are being accomplished in Africa despite there not being the same level of resources for research as may be the case in other parts of the world.  It’s tough to gain access to equipment and materials in many places and the degree of commitment and dedication of the students to making a difference in Africa is quite compelling. I would hope that there might be opportunities for more collaborations with institutions in other parts of the world where there are fewer constraints and greater access to equipment and supplies. Africa faces a great many challenges and the practice of green chemistry and engineering can make a big difference here.


So I’ve been on three different continents in as many weeks, and I’ve heard people from almost every continent in the world talk about green chemistry and engineering at four and soon to be five conferences and meetings. When you pause to consider that fact, it’s a pretty amazing thing. There are people on almost every continent (I’m not sure about Antarctica) working to implement green chemistry and engineering, and that’s something we can all get excited about!


As always, let me know what you think.




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Contributed by Mark R. Mason, Dept of Chemistry & Biochemistry, and G. Glenn Lipscomb, Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, University of Toledo


The University of Toledo (UT) School of Green Chemistry and Engineering (SGCE) continues to develop interdisciplinary academic programs that incorporate the principles of green chemistry, green engineering, and green business.  We are accomplishing this through collaboration of faculty in the Colleges of Natural Science and Mathematics, Engineering, and Business and Innovation, using the guiding principles provided in The Green Chemistry Commitment and the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council’s Policy Statement on Green Chemistry in Higher Education.


An example of our approach is the new Professional Science Master’s (PSM) Degree in Green Chemistry and Engineering.  In addition to a minimum of 12 credit hours of graduate coursework in traditional areas of chemistry and/or chemical engineering, students are required to take graduate courses in Green Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Green Engineering Principles for Chemical Processes, and Green Engineering Applications in Chemical Industries.  Embedded in these courses is coverage of toxicology, chemical hazards assessment, sustainability analysis, and pertinent legislation and policy.  The Green Engineering Principles course also serves as a bridge course, allowing chemistry and science students to learn the basics of chemical engineering and enabling them to enroll in pertinent electives in chemical and environmental engineering, bypassing numerous prerequisites.  The business content for the PSM degree is provided by courses in Supply Chain Management, Technology Commercialization, and New Venture Creation.  Students must take a minimum of two business courses, which are also required of students in UT’s PSM in Photovoltaics.   Professional skills, a trademark of PSM programs, are further developed during the mandatory industrial internship.  Relevance of course content and internship experiences will be assured by an industrial advisory board, a requirement for all PSM degree programs.


Although we have much to do, the SGCE is extending this interdisciplinary approach to an undergraduate minor and an accelerated B.S./M.S. degree in green chemistry and engineering.  All pertinent courses for these new programs are currently offered at UT, including elective courses such as Biofuels, Chemistry of Sustainable Energy Resources, Environmental Policy, Environmental Economics, and Hazardous Waste Management.


Student recruitment for admission to the PSM Degree in Green Chemistry and Engineering will begin in January, 2015.  Further details on academic programs of the SGCE




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Contributed By Melissa Delekta, MSU Bioeconomy Institute


When Michigan State University accepted the Holland, MI-based Bioeconomy Institute in 2007 as a gift from Pfizer, it took on a $50 million-plus property that was poised to set MSU apart from other universities.


The Institute offers a wide range of services that appeal to both startup and well-established companies. The facility is capable of scale-up and production services, conducting sponsored research and testing, and facilitating business incubation. Lab space is also available for renting and providing educational programming and training.



“We have 30,000 liters of scale up capacity and we use that to scale up processes for small companies. So, for companies that cannot afford that infrastructure, which is a very large expenditure, we are able to bring them to market very quickly,” stated Bill Freckman, Director of Operations, MSU Bioeconomy Institute and who also managed the facility’s operations during his days with Pfizer.


“Our role at Michigan State is not only economic development and helping entrepreneurial businesses develop “green” chemical technologies and green chemistry, but helping small companies survive the challenges of commercialization quickly.”


The Bioeconomy Institute also has the ability to provide unique opportunities to students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.


“Students that weren’t sure about attending grad school, or those who were just not ready, have the opportunity to go on to that level after experiencing a summer here,” Thomas Guarr, Director of Research and Development’s statement on the summer internship program.


Experimentresized.jpgThis summer the facility was host to ten interns from universities across the state.


Since its inception, the institute has been able to attract out-of-state companies to Michigan, as well as enhance Michigan-based firms. For example, Renmatix is a company that brought research and development projects to the Institute. As the leading producer of affordable cellulosic sugars, Renmatix was recognized as one of ten 2014 New Energy Pioneers by Bloomberg New Energy Finance for its technology's impact on bio-industry.


“The Bioeconomy Institute was essential in helping us continue to scale our process in preparation for commercial deployment,” said Frank Lipiecki, research and development director for Renmatix. Research at the Institute helped fine-tune the proprietary biomass conversion process, which avoids the use of costly consumables and operates with reactions that only take seconds. This contribution is an important step in helping to develop nonfood, plant-based alternatives to petrochemical products.


Learn more at MSU Bioeconomy Institute




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Contributed by Dr. Marty Mulvihill, Executive Director, Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry


We teach many courses focused on technical knowledge and a few that talk about its application; yet there is so much that one cannot truly learn until having to do it in earnest.


The Greener Solutions program at UC Berkeley gives students a chance to apply their technical skills in earnest, by partnering them with businesses interested in adopting safer and more sustainable materials and processes.


Berkeleypic3.jpgThis past year, two interdisciplinary teams of students worked with Levi Strauss &Co. and the Biomimicry Institute to identify and evaluate potential biomimetic approaches to fabric finishing (See Wikipedia article on permanent press) that would eliminate the use of formaldehyde and diisocyanates. The research teams included students from chemistry, engineering, public health, and design. Working together, they identified solutions including new fiber coatings, to enzymatic processes, and multi-material weaves.


Every year we pick a new challenge and new partner organizations. This fall, we will be examining preservative and anti-microbial chemistry used in consumer products. We will be working with Seventh Generation and Beautycounter to help select and design effective preservatives that do not cause unnecessary harm to human health or the environment.


We encourage students to identify a broad range of solutions and then to develop evaluation tools to assess potential costs and benefits of each. They present the top design solutions to the partner organization and explain what needs to be done to bring these solutions to market. The results from previous Greener Solutions projects are available online at the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry website.berkeleypic2.jpg


The Greener Solutions program uses a process oriented approach to teaching that helps graduate student develop practical communication and consulting skills that are not often part of graduate programs in the sciences. In the words of one student, “Most courses teach facts that I then easily forget. This course taught me skills, the ‘how-to’ of performing research and communicating findings to non-academics.”






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Contributed by Jeffery Whitford, Sigma-Aldrich [PRESS RELEASE]


Sigma-Aldrich Corporation dramatically decreased its global water and energy use, increased its investment in Green Chemistry and donated more than 8,000 hours of community service around the world last year, the Company announced Monday in its new 2013 Global Citizenship Report: What if Science Changed the World?


The report comes in a year when Sigma-Aldrich has earned several honors for being a responsible corporate citizen, including recognition for the second consecutive year on CDP’s Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index, an inaugural listing on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and a top position as the No. 1 company in the materials sector on The Civic 50, a national ranking of the most community-minded companies in the U.S.   


“Sigma-Aldrich continues to strengthen its focus on Global Citizenship enabling us to deliver tangible results that benefit our employees, customers and the world at large,” said President and CEO Rakesh Sachdev. “We are pleased with the recognition we have received by taking a leadership position when it comes to innovation and sustainability, and we continue to collaborate with our stakeholders to broaden the benefits of our Global Citizenship programs.”


The 2013 Sigma-Aldrich Global Citizenship Report highlights a number of successes accomplished during the calendar year, including:


  • A major reduction in energy and water use, achieving an absolute reduction in water usage of more than 100,000 cubic meters. Since 2009, the Company has saved more than 1.9 million cubic meters of water -- enough to fill more than 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The Company cut its electrical energy usage by 4 million kilowatt hours in 2013, enough to power more than 365 homes for an entire year.


  • Promoting innovation in Green Chemistry through its nine global Centers of Green Chemistry Excellence, enabling the Company to deliver new products with smaller environmental footprints.


  • More than 8,000 hours of employee volunteer community service, worth approximately a half million dollars in donated time. Employees participated in 72 charity events in 31 locations worldwide, including St. Louis, Milwaukee, India, Singapore, Germany, and the UK among others. The Company reached 8,350 students around the globe with its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives and donated a total of $2.2 million in cash and products to charitable organizations.


  • The launch of a new, interactive Global Citizenship website with enhanced functionality and a unique, live-time carbon footprint feature.


“Sigma-Aldrich has grown its Global Citizenship platform by focusing on initiatives that have a substantive, positive impact,” said Jeffrey Whitford, Global Citizenship Manager. “As we ramp up our engagement efforts internally and externally, we increase our ability to create positive change.”


Sigma-Aldrich uses several external guidelines and measurement frameworks to inform the scope of its reporting including the U.N. Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative G4.This is the first year the report has been aligned to the G4.


For more information about Sigma-Aldrich’s corporate citizenship efforts, or to use the new interactive sustainability tools, visit


Sigma-Aldrich is a member of the ACS GCI Chemical Manufacture's Roundtable.



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As local and national governments struggle to deal with ever-growing piles of electronic waste (or “e-waste”), scientists are now refining the picture of just how much there is and where it really ends up. Published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, their study found that nearly a quarter of e-waste that developed countries discard floods into just seven developing countries — with major potential health risks for the people who live there.



Knut Breivik and colleagues note that the export from developed to developing regions of e-waste — everything from used TVs and refrigerators to computers and cell phones — has caused concern. On one hand, this practice can help people in resource-poor countries acquire technology or earn income from selling re-usable parts and raw materials from the waste. But on the other, environmental regulations and enforcement in developing countries are often too weak to protect local people and their environment from the waste’s toxins, including lead and mercury, which are known to make people sick. To help address this mounting problem, Breivik’s team decided to pinpoint how much e-waste the world is discarding and where it goes.


Past estimates on the flow of e-waste vary, so the researchers analyzed data from many studies to arrive at more reliable numbers. They estimated that in 2005, more than 38 million tons of used electronics were discarded worldwide. Nearly a quarter of the waste from developed nations went to China, India and five West African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin and Liberia. Others have predicted that e-waste will top 72 million tons by 2017. A better understanding of the fate of e-waste could inform how the world deals with it, the researchers say.


The authors acknowledge funding from The Research Council of Norway.


Read the full abstract, "Tracking the Global Generation and Exports of e-Waste. Do Existing Estimates Add Up?"


From the ACS Office of Public Affairs



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