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Contributed by Zachery Norman from Clean Chemistry Consulting, @CleanChemistry, for the ACS GCI 'What's Your Green Chemistry?' Campaign.


Our green chemistry involves moving the car wash chemical technology forward.  Bringing 21st century chemical technology into the chemical manufactures' labs and showing them how they can clean better and greener. Being able to replace the cheap, old, dangerous and environmentally harmful chemicals with newer, more gentile chemicals, with an increased biodegradability factor.  Helping improve equipment lifespans, environmental waste, water reclaim capability, and human safety in the process.  All while cleaning better in the process!




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Over the past several months, I’ve been traveling from coast to coast and abroad discussing the idea of a green chemistry and engineering education roadmap. The concept of a roadmap has emerged from listening to the needs of the green chemistry community. We’ve heard from leaders in green chemistry education, people just getting started, industrial scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers of all levels, and other organizations working in this area. What we hear is a lot of interest in incorporating green chemistry ideology into course and lab work, a lot of individual initiative, as well as some real challenges. Advocating for progress in education & communication of green chemistry concepts is one of the Institute’s strategic goals, and our interest is to convene and catalyze educational initiatives.


Over the years ACS GCI has done this in several ways. We’ve partnered with the U.S. EPA and authors to publish several of the earliest textbooks and lab manuals. We continue to support the incorporation of green chemistry into textbooks such as Chemistry for a Changing Times. Understanding the importance of finding platforms for presenting their technical work and interacting with leaders in this space, we provide several travel awards for students to attend green chemistry meetings. We also continue to support the growing number of ACS Student Chapters focusing on green chemistry. In addition, we have held an annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Student Workshop in conjunction with our Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference for many, many years.


The state of green chemistry education Let’s face it. chemistry is not the most popular subject in school. According to the National Science Board, 92% of U.S. high school students report that chemistry was their hardest subject. At universities, only 1-3% of students end up majoring in the physical sciences. Little wonder that the public remains widely illiterate when it comes to chemistry. Many are unable to make the connections between basic concepts in chemistry and everyday life. Fortunately, what we have also seen is the ability of green chemistry to make these connections and breathe new excitement into chemistry education.


Incorporating green chemistry into labs and curriculum benefits educators in many ways. It modernizes a curriculum set in the early part of the 20th century, helps prepare students for real industrial challenges, creates a safer laboratory environment, costs institutions less money (e.g., hazardous waste disposal, energy, and liability costs), boosts institutional sustainability initiatives, and many other benefits.


Over the last fifteen years the growth in green chemistry research and industrial adoption has been steady. For example, the number of publications containing the term “green chemistry” has risen from around 750 in 1999 to about 3750 in 2013. Educators too have been responding to meet the interest of students. Many are already incorporating green chemistry in their classrooms and contributed to curriculum development. There are local and regional efforts to promote curriculum changes. So this is all good, but… there are many challenges including a lack of coordination, duplicate efforts, and unmet needs.


What is a roadmap?


An educational roadmap is both a destination and a path. It is a consensus-building tool that helps us coordinate, invest, and partner in a strategic manner for the best long-term results. Roadmaps have been created successfully in other disciplines, such as geography, as well as in evolving industries, e.g., the Semiconductor Industry Association.


Roadmaps help a community outline its needs, coordinate efforts and distribute materials, encourage funding and investment, and leverages resources and make connections. By bringing together a diverse group of participants, roadmaps can help answer questions like:


- What do green chemists need to know?

- What are the gaps in existing resources?

- How will those gaps be filled?


How would a roadmap be useful to you?


We believe that an educational roadmap for green chemistry would define and clarify methods of incorporating green chemistry into the curriculum. The goal of this process is to make it easier for educators who are interested in:


- Finding and adopting the best materials and approaches

- Getting funding to develop and adopt materials

- Building capacity to adopt and teach green chemistry topics and themes

- Building capacity to create and develop innovative new materials


As we develop this idea, we’ll keep you updated in the pages of The Nexus. If you’d like to share your thoughts feel free to comment here on the blog or email me at We’d love to hear from you!




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Chemistry has historically been considered a discipline that could guarantee you a job. When chemistry is everything, how could it ever be otherwise? Unfortunately, in recent years in the United States we have begun to observe "otherwise." In 2012, an American Chemical Society Presidential Commission issued a report on the current state of graduate education in the chemical sciences. Leading experts from academia and industry concluded that current educational opportunities for graduate students do not provide sufficient preparation for their careers. Following this Commission report, in 2013 the ACS conducted a survey of members who had recently graduated with different chemistry degrees, from bachelor’s to PhD graduates. At that time, unemployment had risen to nearly 10% and median starting salaries remained static. The major recommendation stemming from this survey was that chemistry departments should partner with campus career centers to develop a comprehensive suite of career resources targeted to the needs of graduate students at all levels in chemical sciences.


So what direction is chemistry and therefore career opportunities moving towards? Students are still learning the basics in their general, organic, etc. classes, but the fact of the matter is that our students have been doing the same experiments since World War II. The chemical enterprise however (which is expected to grow to more than $14 trillion by 2050), has not stagnated the same way our undergraduate and graduate programs have. Currently more than 50 percent of American chemistry graduates go on to pursue careers in industry, yet only 26 percent of graduate students responding to the 2013 ACS survey reported that their advisors provided information about non-academic career paths to a considerable extent. As ACS Director of Education, Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, explained, there are many skills to be gained by paying closer attention to industry environments, “When students have the opportunity to work in industry, they learn important safety protocols, polish their communication techniques, and develop teamwork skills.”


As we begin to observe trends in industry and feel the pressures of a growing, consumptive global population we see another wave of needs for the chemistry education community: green chemistry and engineering skills. The markets reflect this (as evidenced by the report from Pike Research stating that the green chemistry market opportunity will grow by more than 3400% from $2.8 billion in 2011 to $98.5 billion by 2020). As chemistry continues to further integrate into our modern lifestyles and the public becomes more aware of how it affects society, it is vital for education to reflect this changing landscape. Dr. Jim Hutchison, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon describes green chemistry as "use-inspired" because it exists within the context of making products better and processes more efficient. Improving lives is an implied endeavor of the field, and to do this chemists need an understanding of the impact of chemicals and the entire life cycle of their processes and products to determine how to design for sustainability. Increasingly chemists need to be able to work across disciplines and collaborate with engineers, but companies are finding that graduates often don’t arrive with the awareness or capacity to do so.


This is not a new demand in the community, but the call is getting louder. For years green chemistry leaders have organized on this issue, championing the need for chemistry curricula to accurately reflect genuine career opportunities and growing sustainability needs. For example, in 2007, there was a workshop titled “Exploring Opportunities in Green Chemistry and Engineering Education” hosted through the National Research Council Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Three major speakers, a panel, and a series of breakout sessions were dedicated to assessing the status of green chemistry and engineering education, and why educators incorporate these topics (or not).


Most current faculty members do not have green chemistry experience and face a very crowded curriculum, but if we are to truly shift the way chemistry is taught and address this career gap for graduates, change isn't needed just from academia. Fortunately over the years we have begun seeing larger and more organized initiatives to invigorate green chemistry education on all fronts from educators, students, organizations, and industry.


One of the most robust efforts to train educators is the University of Oregon’s Green Chemistry in Education Workshop. It is a five-day workshop to help educators incorporate green chemistry experiments and concepts into their teaching without further crowding their curriculum. More than 250 educators have completed this workshop, and they have reported increased engagement from students in addition to personally feeling reinvigorated and empowered by this principle-based and creative approach to teaching chemistry. Hutchison, a founder and coordinator of the workshop, describes it as a win-win for the universities; not only are educators seeing diverse benefits, the departments experience less waste, positive publicity, and opportunities for faculty scholarship.



The 2014 cohort of chemistry professors at the U of O Green Chemistry in Education Workshop.


On the other end of the classroom there are the students and recent graduates, and they have also begun organizing for greener science and education. This year has seen the launch of the Network of Early-career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE), an organization dedicated to mobilizing the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists and engineers to integrate sustainability into their work. NESSE is building interest and power among students and young professionals to take proactive steps to change the way science is done, and plans to provide programs and training through several avenues. Whether it’s creating and supporting interdisciplinary campus groups or coordinating a mentor program, NESSE is a free network providing early-career scientists the platform and resources to fill the gap that their education does not address.



NESSE launch event at 2014 Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference.


“NESSE will play an important part by mobilizing the next generation to say to educators and industry that we need updated curricula not only for jobs but for the wave of sustainable change that needs to come,” said Dr. Jennifer Dodson, Chair of NESSE and Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence at University of York. With respect to raising awareness and increasing knowledge of green chemistry, some student groups such as University of Toronto’s Green Chemistry Initiative and University of York’s greenSTEMS (both are NESSE members) have already seen success with organizing workshops, outreach, and activating students across disciplines. “It’s not going to happen everywhere overnight, but it will create key places and examples of how to bring about change for more sustainable science and education,” said Dodson.


Echoing this call for cross-disciplinary education and further illustrating the need, the 2012 ACS Commission report elaborates that much of industry uses a matrix structure where scientists have two homes—one in their discipline with similar chemists and one in a program/project with a variety of professionals (engineers, business people, sustainability experts, etc.). For years, the ACS has provided opportunities for students to learn green chemistry and engage with industry through programs such as the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy (a week long program for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to learn about this rapidly growing field), the SCI Scholars (10-week industrial internship opportunities for rising sophomores and juniors), and of course the offerings for Students & Educators through the ACS Green Chemistry Institute.


gcsummerschool.PNG2014 ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy


Programs like the ones discussed thus far not only provide much needed exposure but help students create valuable connections for their career. As this community continues to grow and the need for sustainable scientists becomes increasingly relevant, concrete actions from industry are now needed. “We don’t currently see industry calling for green chemistry skills in their hiring—if they truly do value these skills, they need to be explicit in recruiting and hiring chemists and chemical engineers,” said Kirchhoff.


While it is true there is no groundswell from industry for green chemistry education at this time, there are proactive companies and industrial coalitions that aim to catalyze the flow of sustainable scientists through their practices and programs. The ACS Green Chemistry Institute® Industrial Roundtables (Chemical Manufacturer’s, Formulators’, Hydraulic Fracturing (coming soon), and Pharmaceutical) are one example of groups of companies coming together to change the way chemistry is done in their sector. Many companies who are members also have green chemistry programs (for example, Merck’s Green Chemistry team) which are using green metrics, changing science, and highlighting the need for sustainable scientists.


Amgen, a member company of the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable, is one company that has taken their green chemistry team beyond their firm and into the community. A key program of Amgen’s has the team going to local colleges to give green chemistry seminars to undergraduates so they are exposed to the concepts as early as possible. “The most rewarding aspect is the excitement you build in the students,” said Dr. John Tucker, a senior scientist at Amgen. “There is great concern for sustainability in this generation and green chemistry can activate future scientists. It doesn’t matter what sector you go into, it doesn’t matter what science you do, green chemistry can be applied to any scientific endeavor and will make you a better scientist.”


Tucker has spent 10+ years in the pharmaceutical industry working specifically on green chemistry and is involved with Amgen’s outreach program. His green chemistry background set him apart when he switched jobs and he emphasized how industry values scientists who are adept at cross-disciplinary collaborations; increasingly green chemistry is an example of these skills and a key differentiator when hiring new scientists. “Academia needs to propagate green chemistry across all universities—it should be from California to Maine, and I’m hopeful that it will happen in the next 5-10 years—but we can do better in industry by indicating within hiring practices and job descriptions that we prefer green chemistry skill sets,” said Tucker, "and of course, engaging the local communities."


To coalesce and further mobilize the green chemistry community, the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® is beginning to work with the community to develop an educational roadmap that would define and clarify methods of incorporating green chemistry into the curriculum. The overarching goal is to create an enduring, multi-year strategy to find and implement solutions to key green chemistry education needs. Someday all chemistry will be green chemistry and this will require all hands on deck from educators, students, industry, and more! To learn more check out Need for a Green Chemistry Education Roadmap. To get involved with the roadmap or share your thoughts feel free to comment here or email Jenny MacKellar (




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Contributed by Thomas P. Umile, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Gwynedd Mercy University


This summer, I decided to incorporate a hefty dose of green chemistry and sustainability (GCS) in my undergraduate organic chemistry course, as many other like-minded instructors have before. For even the best of us, though, revising a course is no trivial task. Many logistical and administrative challenges exist, unique to one’s own department and institution. However, one question remains that all face: “With a fundamental discipline as old as [Insert Your Discipline Here], wherever am I supposed to fit more content?” In effect, where does the “green” go? After much thinking*, two realizations formed the framework of the changes I would make.


1. Revise. Don’t replace. Although “adding new content” seems to imply “replacing old content,” there’s no real need to replace anything! Instead, refine what is already taught to include some reference to GCS.


2. This is not a Green Chemistry course. Students will not learn everything about GCS in this course, and instructors need only include enough information to pique students’ interests, framing traditional course material in a green context. (That’s actually how I first became interested in green chemistry in college!)


What does this look like in practice? Here are some examples of what I’m doing this year:


Green Experiments – Cheaper, cleaner experiments have replaced a number of more traditional versions. For example, rather than using volatile and corrosive Br2 for our “alkene addition” lab, we’ll generate the Br2 reagent in situ from H2O2 and HBr. Modified experiments such as this still demonstrate the basic techniques required of the curriculum, but I can now use pre-lab lectures or handouts to gently comment on how our versions are different (e.g., saving money, reducing risks).


On-line Message Boards – My course requires that students participate in a message board. Each week, students read an article and are prompted to elicit comments, generating discussion. This year the theme is Green Chemistry. We’ll start small (e.g., “What does ‘chemical-free’ really mean?”) and work our way up (e.g., “How do the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry apply to something we’ve seen in class?”). For now, we’re using the message board module in our course management system (Blackboard), but I can envision easily adapting this to other formats. Twitter?


Homemade Problem Sets – Instructor-made problem sets are a great vehicle for introducing GCS. Phrasing a traditional practice problem in a green context can be simple and effective. For example, rather than having students just practice the mechanism of an ester hydrolysis, make them draw the mechanism for hydrolysis of the compostable polyester polylactic acid (PLA). The question’s wording can subtly point out the potential benefits of PLA (e.g., closed-loop recycling), infusing the question with GCS without losing the required content.


Extra Credit & Other Assignments – Students love extra credit because it means more points. Instructors should love extra credit because it’s an opportunity to introduce additional course material. A common extra credit assignment in my organic course requires students to propose a multistep synthesis of some challenging target. This year, they will also investigate the atom economy of their proposed syntheses.


Including GCS content didn’t actually require a massive overhaul of my course, and no content was thrown away. Where did the “green” end up going? Everywhere! With only minor revisions, students will simply see “green” wherever they look this semester because Green Chemistry and Sustainability has become the backdrop for the entire course.


*Acknowledgement: Many thanks are owed to Jim Hutchison, Julie Haack, Ken Doxsee, and John Thompson, who provided invaluable insights during myriad conversations at the 2014 Green Chemistry in Education Workshop at the University of Oregon. Their advice was fundamental to my syllabus revisions.




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By David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


This is going to be a necessarily shorter than usual post given the fact that it’s hard to maintain the pace of the last few months of travel.


In case you didn’t know, there are few states that are doing as much in the green chemistry arena as Michigan appears to be doing. Last week, I had the opportunity to spend part of a day at Hope College in Michigan and the remainder of the day at Michigan State’s Bioeconomy Institute.


Hope College is a small liberal arts college with a big chemistry impact. They have graduated about 50 chemistry majors each of the past 5 years, and given that the school has an enrollment on the order of 3,400 students, that’s very impressive. The chemistry department also has enviable facilities and a faculty that involves students in their research.  It is also quite impressive to see how successful the faculty members have been raising grants from public and private sources to fund their research and how dedicated they are to exposing undergraduates to research. While they have not done as much as some colleges in integrating green or sustainable chemistry into their curriculum, I am optimistic that they are heading in that direction given the focus on environmentally-related research. They are certainly talking about doing more, which makes me very optimistic given all the green chemistry activity in Michigan.



The MSU Bioeconomy Institute is an ex-Pfizer pilot plant and R&D building that was thankfully saved from the wrecking ball through a unique arrangement between Pfizer and Michigan State University. This former Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert/Pfizer facility used to make Lipitor and Neurontin among other drugs, and at one time was a significant multi-purpose chemical manufacturing facility. It’s a bit sad, all that remains of a once thriving plant is one large building surrounded by a remediation site. The good news is that building is serving a very, very useful niche in the low volume, small chemical manufacturing arena.  I’ve spoken before about the need for facilities and the associated technical capability to scale up processes or perform small volume manufacturing for sustainable and green chemistry entrepreneurs.  The Bioeconomy Institute serves that niche and it’s great to see them grow their business.  In a sense, their success is a bellwether for the success of implementing more sustainable and green chemistry businesses.  I look forward to the day when they are operating at close to 100% utilization.


John and Paul sm.jpgThere are so many great things happening that I’d like to talk about, but all I will say is that I think that the planning for the 19th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference is in a great place and we are very grateful for all the work that the technical program chairs, Dr. David Leahy, Dr. Bruce Lipshutz, and Dr. Richard Wool are doing. They are working together with a great organizing committee to make next year’s conference a resounding success. I’m also excited by the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable’s next grant cycle and I’m looking forward to that being awarded soon. Last but certainly not least, we are excited by John Warner (pictured right, on left with Paul Anastas at the ceremony) receiving the Perkin Medal and celebrate his achievements in green chemistry.


As always, let me know what you think.






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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

A paper titled “Implementing Green Chemistry in Chemical Manufacturing: A Survey Report” by the ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s Chemical Manufacturer’s Roundtable was published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering on September 2, 2014. In order to assess how green chemistry has permeated chemical manufacturing, in 2012 the Roundtable conducted a survey which garnered 96 responses from a cross-section of stakeholders (including industry, trade associations, etc.). The respondents to this survey cited the following as the green chemistry principles employed with regular use: prevention, less hazardous chemical synthesis, designing safer chemicals, safer solvents and auxiliaries, and inherently safer chemistry for accident prevention. The Roundtable identified that currently the most common metrics companies are using to track green chemistry progress is water use and carbon footprint. Click here to access the paper and learn more.


With these results and looking ahead the Roundtable is working to identify best process metrics, track green chemistry limplementation, define research needs for industrial application, and promote collaboration across the chemical enterprise. Member companies of the Roundtable include Ajinomoto North America Inc., Arizona Chemical LLC, Dixie Chemical Co., DuPont, Penn A Kem LLC, Solvay USA Inc., and Sigma-Aldrich. To learn more and inquire about membership, please visit the ACS GCI Chemical Manufacturer’s Roundtable website and email




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Long before humans figured out how to create colors, nature had already perfected the process — think stunning, bright butterfly wings of many different hues, for example. Now scientists are tapping into those secrets to develop a more environmentally friendly way to make colored plastics. Their paper on using structure — or the shapes and architectures of materials — rather than dyes, to produce color appears in the ACS journal Nano Letters.


N. Asger Mortensen, Anders Kristensen and colleagues point out that currently, plastic manufacturers add pigments to their products. That gives them the range of colors customers have come to expect in everything from toys to tools. But these additional ingredients add to the growing waste stream of plastics manufacturing and make it difficult to recycle products. To come up with a more eco-friendly alternative, Mortensen's team turned to highly advanced materials that can be made to appear in different colors — purely by designing their surface structures at the nanoscopic level.


They layered materials, including ultrathin, nano-sized aluminum disks, in a way that manipulates light and creates a new kind of colored surface. To protect it from damage, the scientists topped it off with a scratch-resistant film. Using this method, they created a wide spectrum of colors that could be added to plastics.


The authors acknowledge funding from the Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation, the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation and the European Commission.


Read the full abstract,"Plasmonic Metasurfaces for Coloration of Plastic Consumer Products"


From the ACS Office of Public Affairs




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Dr. Anne E. Marteel-Parrish of Washington College and Dr. Martin A. Abraham of Youngstown State University have put together a new textbook for general chemistry titled, “Green Chemistry and Engineering: A pathway to sustainability.” For college students who might be more inspired to approach chemistry and engineering from the perspective of how it’s relevant to sustainability and fits into an environmentally-friendly career path, then this book will be essential.


green-chemistry-and-engineering-a-pathway-to-sustainability.jpgAimed at undergraduates taking an introduction to general chemistry, the book introduces basic concepts in chemistry and engineering through the lens of sustainability issues. Green chemistry and engineering are specifically outlined, and examples of successful applications are highlighted. Special topics include renewable materials, energy, economic considerations, and toxicology. I agree with the author that many portions of the book would be suited to a more general course on scientific applications, and would fit in beautifully to an environmental studies curriculum.


“Where do we want to be 50 years from now? What do we want our planet to look like? How do we get out of our comfort zone and change our way of thinking?” Dr. Marteel-Parrish asks. “If you are interested in having the answers to these questions and if you are ready to pursue science in a creative, innovative, and responsible manner, then this book is for you.”


Green Chemistry and Engineering: A Pathway to Sustainability” was published by Wiley in 2014 and is copyrighted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.


Find more information on green chemistry textbooks, lab manuals, and reference materials.

A review of some of the talks presented at the 2014 GC&E Conference from the session, “Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree”


From effective communication to interactive learning, this year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference ( had over 25 presentations dedicated to education. Topics included Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree, Charting the Course Ahead, and Advancing Sustainability Through the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy. These sessions were organized by co-chairs Julie Haack, University of Oregon, and Anne Marteel-Parrish, Washington College. Below are highlights from the two-part session, "Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor's Degree".


Laura Vandenberg from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Public Health, opened the session stressing the importance of clearly communicating science and ways to avoid using jargon. Vandenberg started off by mentioning she is not a chemist and pointed out the perfect coincidence that she, a biologist, was talking to a room full of chemists about how to clearly convey your message to an audience, who may not be familiar with the typical jargon you use. Vandenberg emphasized the concept of simplifying your message without dumbing it down, “it’s okay to use the words we use, but we have to stop and realize that it is jargon, and we have to find a way to simplify it”. She said this is a concept scientists struggle with because they do not want to sound less intelligent then they truly are. She stressed that when your audience can fully understand what you are explaining, your science can reach further then it’s typical demographic, creating more of an impact.


Caroline Baier-Anderson, who is working with Design for Environment (DfE), switched gears from jargon to the efficient ways DfE spreads the word about green chemistry. She talked about her interactions through Design for Environment and their alternative assessment community of practice strategy. By collaborating with different stakeholders they have been able to achieve their goals efficiently with multiple perspectives on the matter. Industry’s involvement with green chemistry was introduced into this session by Bruce Uhlman, Team Leader for Applied Sustainability at BASF, and how they have developed tools and strategies to drive sustainability into the company’s culture.


The second part of the session focused on the education of green chemistry within the different forms of schooling, whether it is K-12, undergraduate, or graduate levels. Marty Mulvihill, Berkley Center for Green Chemistry, mapped out his department’s interactive graduate program. These project-based courses require students to work in teams and reach out to real companies to discover their real-world challenges. The teams then spend the semester finding possible solutions which could result in future research opportunities.


Many of the other talks focused on new green chemistry networks, the importance of getting involved in student groups, and utilizing research. Kate Anderson, Beyond Benign, closed the sessions off by discussing her interactions with the Green Chemistry High School Professional Development program. This program provides resources for K-12 and College/University educators to help guide their green chemistry curriculum.


You can watch the full presentations and all of the sessions from the 2014 GC&E Conference at ACS Presentations on Demand. All presentations are available to the public.




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Contributed by Amy Hawthorne, Marketing Assistant at ReAgent, for the ACS GCI What's Your Green Chemistry? Campaign


As a chemical manufacturer, ReAgent has to be cautious about waste and ensure we’re continuously finding new ways to reduce toxic waste and avoid harming the environment. To target this aim, we set environmental objectives each year so we can improve our recycle and waste processes, and try to come up with more ways to reduce pollution. We also hold an ISO 14001 Environmental Standard and our recycle rate is around 98%.hazardous chemicalreagent.jpg


To upkeep this standard and deal with toxic waste appropriately, we follow an agreement with our water treatment company which dictates what can and can’t go down the drain. This is very specific, and we don’t throw anything away that is toxic or could be harmful to the drain. In other words, anything with a hazardous symbol does not go down the drain.


Toxic waste can cause pollution, and can also directly affect those working in the drain, so these safe practices are crucial. To deal with the chemical waste that can’t be easily disposed, we arrange for a hazardous waste treatment company to collect and dispose of this on our behalf. We always fill in waste-transfer notes so that everything is recorded and traceable.


There’s no cutting corners when it comes to chemical waste disposal; anything hazardous stays away from drains and we continue to protect people and the environment.


Want to share your green chemistry story? Find out how to participate in the ACS GCI What's Your Green Chemistry? campaign.




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Contributed by Dr. Francesca Kerton, Associate Professor at Memorial University, for the ACS GCI What's Your Green Chemistry? Campaign


Our research group is busy trying to make fish and seafood waste into something else – hopefully one day we will turn it into something more valuable. Nowadays, when we have finished eating a shrimp or crab dish – the shells go into the trash and off to a landfill site. With space in landfills becoming less readily available, we can try to turn our waste into something else. In our case, this something else is a new chemical building block that we could turn into a new disease-fighting drug or into a new plastic.


Chemicals are all around us in daily life (including the parts of this computer that I am using to write this blog post). To me it seems obvious to take one problem, waste, and to use it to solve another problem, making the objects we need and use everyday. In this way, we can all live a little bit more sustainability and take better care of our planet.


The Green Chemistry and Catalysis Group at Memorial University


Want to share your green chemistry story? Find out how to participate in the ACS GCI What's Your Green Chemistry? campaign.




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To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Contributed by Dr. Masha Petrova, MVP Consulting Solutions, LLC and Joe Garner, American Chemical Society


The field of Biopolymers is growing rapidly and with that growth comes renewed debate on  what exactly constitutes a biopolymer. In addition, in today’s fast-paced chemical industry, it is crucial for a scientist to be able to quickly assess real industry issues and have hands-on experience to be able to solve real-world problems. Sci-Mind™ Biopolymers, launching this October, is bringing  together experts from different backgrounds and opinions to help scientists, engineers and business professionals learn more about the latest developments in the field.


Biopolymers Going Global

The bioplastics and commodities markets constitute a significant portion of the biopolymers market. As of today, the bioplastics industry accounts for only about 1% of the total  global plastics market. However, a recent report from European Bioplastics estimates the production capacity in North America is to grow from 26.7% of the total capacity  in 2010 to 32.9% in 2015.1


Bioplastics production and use has been a solid part of the European market for more than two decades. European legal framework and political strategies provide incentives to stimulate the  market. In North America, the bioplastics market continues to experience significant growth. One reason is due to the addition of new manufacturing facilities. Another is an increased focus on sustainability, such as the sustainability policy enacted by major brand owners. In addition, initiatives from the current U.S. Administration are creating a strong momentum for green technologies. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program has taken the important step in promoting bioplastics at the federal procurement level. 1


In 2012, the two most influential commercial biodegradable (and bio-based) polymers were polylactic acid (PLA) and starch-based polymers, accounting for about 47% and 41%, respectively, of total biodegradable polymer consumption. However, product improvements and increased R&D have lowered costs and made PLA more feasible in many applications. Technological advances have also improved bacteria and yeast strains to produce lactic acid feedstock on a larger scale. 2


NatureWorks, a Classic Biopolymer Case Study

Given the diversity of  players in the bioplastics field, Sci-Mind Biopolymers has teamed up with ACS Green Chemistry Institute® to present the NatureWorks case study. In this classic case study, Sci-Mind learners explore business and technological aspects of producing the product, NatureWorks PLA.


NatureWorks began as a joint venture between Cargill Inc. and Dow Chemical Company. In 2002, they received the prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S  Environmental Protection Agency for its development of the first synthetic polymer class to be produced from corn.


NatureWorks, the company, develops and produces NatureWorks PLA, a trademarked, bio-based plastic resin named for the polylactic acid that comprises the base plant sugars. Not only are PLA resins derived from a renewable resource, but they also have an additional benefit of being compostable (safely biodegradable) and even infinitely recyclable, meaning that they can be reprocessed into the same product repeatedly.


Using this case study, learners in Sci-Mind discuss various business aspects of company formation, R&D barriers, and  issues of product positioning in marketing PLA as a unique resin in a mature plastics market. Just as important, Sci-Mind learners examine how this product  was conceived and launched through to high-volume production. What lessons were learned? How can this experience inform future marketing and scale up of novel  biopolymer products?


One unexpected issue described in the case study concerns genetically modified (G.M.) corn feedstock. Since NatureWorks was unable to control corn sources coming to the mill, G.M. became a significant obstacle to marketing NatureWorks PLA. The case  study describes how Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, decided to move forward in a sizable partnership with NatureWorks in order to use PLA fibers in its products in 2002. When Patagonia discovered that the corn feedstock used to create PLA was genetically modified, they abandoned the partnership.To add insult to injury, they even launched a publicity campaign against PLA.


Despite such setbacks, by 2005, NatureWorks was the only company in the world capable of producing  large-scale, bio-based resins that exhibited standard performance traits such as durability, flexibility, and strength, at a competitive market price, according to the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® case study.


But that was 2005…What about today, almost 10 years later? What are the issues currently facing the bioplastics and biopolymers industry? What is the status of PLA materials -- has any other company succeeded in overcoming business and technological challenges associated with this material? What other bio-derived polymers have achieved the success of PLA?


These are important questions to examine for any professional working in bio-plastics, food, or medical polymer industry, whether they are scientists or business developers. These are also questions that Sci-Mind learners explore in the ACS Biopolymers cohort, launching October of 2014.


If you are interested in being involved in this unique learning opportunity and finding out more about the science and business of biopolymers, register here:



1 The  Society of the Plastics Industry, the Bioplastics Council, April 2012 Report

2 IHS  Chemical CEH Biodegradable Polymers Marketing Research Report, November 2012




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

Changing chemistry - the way it is taught, perceived, and applied - is a huge global task that we need to tackle with a clear and consistent message as a green chemistry community. This transition, of course, won’t happen all at once or all on its own. Concentrated efforts, like creating incentives for undergraduates to explore green chemistry are necessary to generate wider awareness, acceptance, and application of environmentally benign techniques.


The ACS Green Chemistry Student Chapter Award is a small street on this big map of changing how university and college students perceive chemistry for themselves and communicate it to others. Student chapters that wish to become designated “green” chapters must complete and document three “green chemistry activities” which are focused on increasing outreach and raising awareness.


Over the years there have been more and more student chapters submitting applications for the green chemistry award. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and buzz among college students about sustainability initiatives. Activities like recycling programs are necessary and great to do, but the focus of green chemistry is often lost in a broader movement. What’s awesome about green chemistry - but is sometimes overlooked - is that waste can be prevented before it’s even made and chemicals that were never used don’t need to be recycled.


Eight “How-To Green Chemistry” guides on the ACS GCI website will soon be available for download that will help student chapters focus on the chemical aspects beneath the sustainability umbrella. The guides, listed below, provide what a student chapter needs to know to successfully complete a green chemistry activity from definitions to logistical solutions and from everyday examples to discussion prompts:

Getting Green in the Media – provides a framework for spreading the word about green chemistry through online, print, and broadcast communications.

Green Chemistry Demonstrations – information on how to organize and advertise a demonstration as well as full procedures for several green demos.

Organizing a Field Trip – a guide to planning a field trip for students interested in learning more about green chemistry, including resources for finding an appropriate place to visit.

Green Chemistry Scavenger Hunt – advice on creating a scavenger hunt based on green chemistry principles from the rules of the game to suggested items and their relevance.

Hosting a Debate - explains how to organize a debate about green chemistry including suggested topics and common debate formats.

Inviting a Speaker – logistical information for inviting a guest to talk about green chemistry and ideas for appropriate lecture topics.

Greening the Lab – provides a foundation for greening labs at a university or college including how to talk to faculty members about making changes and “focus areas” for improvements.

Hosting a Workshop or Conference – describes what’s needed for a successful green chemistry outreach event such as guidelines for developing a workshop, how to create a budget, and tips for keeping the focus on chemistry.

Our hope is that students can use the guides to gather background information, find inspiration, or as frameworks for their events@. Variations on many of the activities allow flexibility for targeting a general versus a scientific audience. The guides also pull together sources from other green chemistry efforts such as Beyond Benign and the Greener Education Materials for Chemists (GEMs) database. Collaboration is key in spreading the word about anything, and the integration of information from various organizations will hopefully result in a stronger green chemistry community.

We’re excited to see how student chapters use these guides to focus their green chemistry efforts. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please feel free to email us at




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

ACS GCI has launched our "What's Your Green Chemistry?" campaign and we want to hear your green chemistry stories! "What's Your Green Chemistry?" is designed to showcase the diverse work and innovative approaches being adopted across our sector, and raise awareness about the importance of greener practices. The campaign will include blog posts, videos, pictures, and Twitter participation. Posts and updates will occur every Wednesday for "What's Your Green Chemistry? Wednesday".


Blog Post Guidelines

Submit a short blog post with under 250 words describing what your green chemistry is. Whether it's in the classroom, lab, place of work, or your daily routine, we want to know. Send your post to with the subject line titled "What's Your Green Chemistry? Blog Post". Feel free to also add a photo!


Video Post Guidelines

If you would like to submit a visual story to show us what your green chemistry is, create a 30 second to one minute video, post it on YouTube and email us the link! You can be working on a project, giving a presentation, or simply telling us a story. Be creative! We will post the video to our Twitter page for "What's Your Green Chemistry? Wednesday" and add it to our YouTube channel.


Make sure to join the conversation every Wednesday using #mygreenchem on Twitter and check The Nexus Blog for other participants' posts and updates!




“The Nexus Blog” is a sister publication of “The Nexus” newsletter. To sign up for the newsletter, please email, or if you have an ACS ID, login to your email preferences and select “The Nexus” to subscribe.


To read other posts, go to Green Chemistry: The Nexus Blog home.

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