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Contributed by David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®


It’s hard to believe that we are only a few weeks away from the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, to be held in N. Bethesda, MD., July 14th through the 16th. Putting on a Conference like this with all the various activities beyond the technical programming is a consuming undertaking.


We start on Monday, July 13th with the NSF Student Workshop, a Chemical Manufacturers Roundtable meeting, and the Presidential Green Chemistry Awards Ceremony; and the Conference hasn’t even started yet!


Tuesday begins with breakfast and introductory remarks, followed by a morning of technical programs. At about mid-day we will be honored to host Senator Chris Coons, one of the primary sponsors of the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act, and a huge supporter of green and sustainable chemistry. There is a lunch Keynote speaker, Dr. Deborah Mielewski from Ford,  technical programming in the afternoon, another Industrial Roundtable meeting followed by a Conference welcome reception, where the Hancock and Breen award winners will be announced.


Wednesday follows a similar pattern but a keynote presentation by Dr. Angela Belcher kicks off the day. Lunch is accompanied by a poster session followed by the afternoon technical sessions, and another Industrial roundtable meeting. The evening will hold an ACS Career Workshop and an invitation-only poster reception for the Industrial Roundtables. Thursday morning we recognize the student poster award winners and the Applied Separations award winner, after which Dr. Frances Arnold will deliver the morning keynote address. There is solid technical programming in both the morning and the afternoon.


We are pleased to once again host a live webinar on Thursday afternoon with our ACS Colleagues Webinars team, along with two important industry-related meetings.  The first meeting is an exploratory workshop for those people interested in forming a Biochemical Technology Leadership Roundtable which is seeking to bring interested parties across the biochemical value chain to collaboratively solve scientific and technical challenges associated with commercializing biorenewable chemicals. The second meeting will be a brainstorming session to assist our chemical manufacturers in progressing their Alternatives to Distillation Roadmap planning grant recently awarded by NIST. On Friday, there is another Industrial Roundtable meeting. All-in-all, it’s a very busy week!


None of this would be possible without the hard work on the part of many people. The conference organizing committee members, Dr. David Leahy of BMS, Dr. Bruce Lipshutz, Dr. Richard Wool, and Dr. Joseph Stanzione have been meeting regularly since last July, and have assembled an outstanding technical program. We were deeply saddened by Dr. Wool’s untimely passing earlier this year, and are indebted to Dr. Stanzione for stepping in over the past few months to ensure continuity of Richard’s vision.


We are very grateful for their hard work and for the work of the session chairs who have assembled an impressive array of speakers and to the Industrial Roundtables for their work in programming. We are also very grateful to all of our sponsors and exhibitors who have made this meeting possible and have added to its attraction. Last, but not least, there is an army of ACS staff, ACS GCI staff, and volunteers who have contributed to the success of this conference over the course of the past year; without them, this conference would not be a reality.


Finally, I would like to note the success this past week of the ACS Summer School on Sustainable Energy and Green Chemistry.  Dr. Mary Kirchoff has been assembling a great line up of speakers each year for many years and this year was no exception.  I was encouraged that a larger number of students are coming to the school with more than a passing knowledge of green and sustainable chemistry and appreciated the discussions, poster sessions and the general level of enthusiasm for green chemistry. This is a great program and I very much appreciate the hard work of Mary’s staff and the sponsorship of the Petroleum Research Fund that make this event possible.


I hope to see you all in North Bethesda in just a few weeks!  As always, please do let me know what you think.






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When consumers think about chemistry and chemicals, more often than not household items such as cleaning supplies and personal care products are the first to come to mind. Chemical formulators are the chemists who identify the functions a product needs to deliver and the chemicals that, upon combination, can provide the needed function. The industry uses hundreds of chemicals to formulate the products we use everyday—this industry produces “household care products (over US$80 billion worldwide p.a.) such as detergents, cleansers, polishes, air fresheners, and insecticides, plus personal care products (over US$200 billion worldwide p.a.) such as deodorants, cosmetics, fragrances, toothpaste, and shampoo.” Greener raw materials are becoming somewhat more available for formulators, but recently the ACS Green Chemistry Institute’s® (ACS GCI) Formulators’ Roundtable, an industrial collaboration between member companies and the ACS GCI, took a important step towards catalyzing important innovation in this industry.


The important step was the release of a recent paper, “Opportunities for Greener Alternatives in Chemical Formulations.” The Roundtable collaborated on this paper with Professor Philip Jessop of Queen’s University, where he is the Canada Research Chair of Green Chemistry. He also serves as Technical Director of GreenCentre Canada and as an ACS GCI Board Member. A primary goal for the development of this paper was to initiate a conversation between the formulation industry and academia. “Academic researchers can help industry make its operations and products greener, but only if the academics know what is needed,” said Jessop, the lead writer of the publication. “This research will give guidance for choosing greener alternatives to encourage the incorporation of changes that will benefit not only the entire value chain from manufacturing to consumer, but the environment as well.”


The paper outlines ten specific chemical categories where more green innovation is needed, along with a list of general requirements (for example, replacements should not contain any toxic heavy metals) that replacement technologies should meet to be truly greener and avoid regrettable substitution (where a chemical is replaced by another, only to find out that the replacement has as many or more negative attributes than the original chemical). These opportunities and suggested requirements were developed and reviewed by all member companies of the Roundtables, and were selected because of potential concern and/or the existing “greener” alternatives are inadequate. So what are the opportunities? And how might they affect products you use? See the following quick list, and read even more detail on the concerns and criteria for change in the Roundtable’s open source paper:

  • Antimicrobials
    Bacteria are everywhere, and your formulated products are no exception—except for the fact that antimicrobial preservatives are incorporated into products to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, which could destroy the function of the product if not controlled. Whether it’s skin sensitization or lack of biodegradability, most of the common preservatives are associated with some sort of health or environmental concern. The Roundtable is seeking holistically greener alternatives, meaning, for example, low toxicity, not causing antimicrobial resistance, and yet are still functional.
  • Solvents
    Solvents have many uses in the chemical industry, the formulations sector included. All types of solvents are used to dissolve various components when mixing ingredients for a product, or can be incorporated into the product itself to carry fragrances. A priority for the industry is to have solvents that have minimal heath and environment impact, but also are derived from renewable resources. Most to all solvents are currently petroleum-based, so the industry aspires to move towards biobased alternatives to, for example, lower the global warming potential of formulated products.
  • Small Amines
    Small amines are versatile ingredients that can serve many important functions in a household product—they can cut grease, stabilize other ingredients (so the product can be homogenous), etc. However, most small amines have the potential to form a by-product (nitrosamines) that has been shown to be carcinogenic. The Roundtable seeks replacements that can avoid these byproduct reactions.
  • Chelants and Sequestering Agents
    Chelants and sequestering agents are important ingredients for cleaning products and scale inhibitors, as they bind to various metals that contribute to scale or other things you may want to remove from your shower, surfaces, etc. The current issues faced by the industry is that some of the most effective chelants present some toxicity concerns and many of the existing alternatives are not effective on scales most often encountered by consumers.
  • Boron Alternatives
    If you’ve ever done laundry, you might be familiar with Borax? Boron compounds have long been important for a wide variety of cleaning and bleaching products. While most boron containing products are safe for humans (i.e. likely no skin irritation upon contact), it does present some toxicity issues to plants and mammals (which is a problem for a product that is often incorporated into water streams which can then make their way to the external environment). It is also one of the least abundant light elements on the planet, therefore eventually presenting some potential supply concerns.
  • Fragrance Raw Materials
    Fragrances, whether natural or synthetic, often have issues associated with them including respiratory sensitivity, bioaccumulation, and more. The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment Program and the International Fragrance Association both have standards and guidelines that the Roundtable seeks to have adopted throughout the industry.
  • Corrosion Inhibitors
    Corrosion, whether it’s affecting the appliances in our home or at a large company, is a huge problem (according to the paper, the annual cost of corrosion is $276 billion in the US, largely from replacing corroded steel). Many of the inhibitors on the market have a host of concerns, including lack of biodegradability, bioaccumulation, and energy-intensive production methods. The Roundtable aspires for corrosion inhibitors to become safer and more sustainable across the board, including becoming biobased (like solvents).
  • Replacements for Alkanolamides
    While the word alkanolamide might be unfamiliar to most, their use is not—these compounds are widely used to stabilize foam and increase effectiveness in various soap products, including most detergents. Unfortunately, they present the same byproduct issues as mentioned above in the small amines category, so the Roundtable identifies this as an opportunity for great improvement.
  • Surfactants
    Surfactants are hugely important to almost every sector in the chemical industry, perhaps most prevalently in formulations. They are the surface-active ingredients in products that allow for the breaking down of the interface between water (usually the base of detergents), oils, and dirt. There are such a wide variety of surfactants and therefore a wide variety of impacts. Because of their wide-use in high volumes, the industry is always looking for greener alternatives.
  • Ultraviolet Screens
    It’s officially summertime here in Washington, DC, and that means sunscreen. Ultraviolet screens or filters are the often nano-scale inorganic components incorporated into lotions to block your skin the negative effects of too much ultraviolet exposure from the sun. Currently, there is a slight trade-off present in using many of these protective products—many of these screens have been predicted to be persistent (in terms of bioaccumulation) and potentially present toxicity risks.




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Professors often apply for grants to pursue green chemistry research that could lead to significant environmental benefits and have immediate application within the pharmaceutical industry. The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable has awarded five of such grants in the past year, propelling green chemistry forward.


Two of the grant recipients, Princeton Professor Paul Chirik, Ph.D., who received $100,000, and Professor Daniel Weix, Ph.D., of Rochester University, who received $50,000, are both researching non-precious metal catalysis.


Professor Weix said, “The opportunity to engage with industrial researchers brings an infusion of new problems for us to tackle and new perspectives for solving old challenges in our work,” and according to Chirik, “The benefits of academic-industry collaboration are unparalleled and truly synergistic.” He says exposure to real industrial problems from the start is one of the most important benefits to academics and useful in establishing the forefront of the chemistry. Universities offer access to the best, and brightest young minds in the field, and can provide industry with a unique perspective to long-standing problems.


Catalysis is an important method in chemistry. It increases reaction rates and reduces the energy required for a reaction to take place. However, many catalytic reactions currently use precious metals such as platinum which are expensive, of limited supply, and pose certain human toxicity concerns. “Preparing catalysts from earth-abundant elements such as iron offers a possibility to resolve these issues,” Chirik says. “More importantly, iron chemistry by virtue of its unique electronic structures often offers new chemistry that was previously unknown or unavailable with established precious metal technology.”


Weix is working on developing catalysts from the more common metal, nickel. Synthesis methods, he says, usually rely upon difficult to handle starting materials and solvents that are not environmentally friendly, says Weix, “Our work, when realized, will result in reactions that avoid both of these challenges.”


“The proposed work by Chirik and Weix provides an exciting opportunity to address these issues by better understanding the mechanism of key catalytic coupling reactions when using non-precious metals for carbon-carbon and carbon-nitrogen bond formation among others,” says Juan Colberg, Ph.D., ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable co-chair and senior director at Pfizer.


“The ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable is delighted to also support research partners Professor Matthias Beller, Ph.D., of Leibniz Institute for Catalysis at the University of Rostock in Germany and Professor Elisabetta Alberico, Ph.D., of the Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry in Italy who were granted $50,000 to research greener reduction of amides, and Professor Neal Mankad, Ph,D., of the University of Illinois, who was awarded $100,000 for his research on iron catalysis.


Mankad stated, “As an academic scientist who does research of a fundamental nature almost exclusively, it is invaluable to me to direct those efforts toward areas of importance to industry.” “Concerns associated with this type of technology in the pharmaceutical community have increased due to high cost, fluctuating global supply, human toxicity and limited natural abundance of precious metals,” stated Colberg in regards to Mankads research.


Discovering processes that are less wasteful and safer are also of special interest to the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, amide reduction is one of several key chemical transformations used to synthesize pharmaceuticals that have many drawbacks. These include poor efficiency, the generation of large quantities of waste and hazardous laboratory conditions. To improve these conditions, Bellar and Alberico will focus on a cost-effective, highly atom-economical procedure where water is the only by-product.


Beller and Alberico’s efforts and will continue to support transformative science that has the potential to deliver a future of sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry,” said John Tucker, ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable co-chair and senior scientist at Amgen. 


Since 2005, the ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable has given $1.7 million dollars in research grants to advance the sustainability profile of pharmaceutical processes using green chemistry techniques. The roundtable brings global industry leaders together to catalyze the beneficial implementation of green chemistry and engineering. Current members include: Amgen, AstraZeneca, Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Codexis, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Eli Lilly and Company, F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Inc., Novartis, Pfizer Inc., Sanofi and ACS GCI.




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You are here. The red dot at the edge of a map. You’re not quite sure where you’re going and there’s no clear path to get to the yet unknown destination. The first step, now, is to visualize where you’d like to go. Then you can plan, draw the roads, and with a lot of work and a little luck, arrive at your destination.


roadmap.pngThe landscape of green chemistry education consists of islands abundant with information, and it isn’t always clear how to best leverage these resources in an educational setting. The green chemistry community is filled with innovative and motivated individuals, and an increasing number of organizations and companies are generating high quality publications on the subject.  We’re also seeing more and more students eager to get involved in green chemistry. In response to this strong interest more colleges and universities are creating new interdisciplinary courses and adding green chemistry content to existing chemistry courses. Industrial employers are also seeking students with backgrounds in sustainability and advocating education that fosters consideration of whole systems and product lifetimes. In 2011, a Pike Research report estimated that the green chemistry market will rise from under $3 billion to nearly $100 billion by 2020.  So with all this enthusiasm and momentum, what’s keeping green chemistry from mainstream incorporation into chemistry education?


Since the early 2000s many green chemistry practitioners have been successfully developing materials at their institutions or through regional efforts. The absence of a coordinated effort to share these resources is working against the potential for green chemistry advancement brought about by these achievements. Additionally, no easy mechanisms have been built to bring newcomers to the space up to speed, limiting the widespread adoption of sustainable practices.


Without clear learning objectives, easy access to teaching materials or the training to cover these topics, it’s difficult for educators to include green chemistry concepts and practices into the existing curriculum. A lack of agreement on standard metrics to formalize what qualifies as “green” leaves genuine innovation at risk of becoming entangled in buzzwords and marketing.


Taking all of these things into consideration, ACS Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) has initiated a roadmapping project to chart the path forward for green chemistry education. Roadmapping is a strategy and resource planning tool that can be especially helpful for addressing complex business, technical or policy problems. It can be used to bring together diverse groups of stakeholders with varying expertise and views to align resources to help a community achieve its goals. There are now many examples of successful roadmaps which have helped communities set common goals, collaborate, and productively move their fields forward. An educational roadmap for green chemistry education will take an uncoordinated but vibrant movement to the next level.


RoadmapGraphic_2.pngThe destination of this roadmap will be decided through a series of community driven workshops.  A visioning workshop, set to take place later this summer, will task a representative group of strategic thinkers with the conceptualization of a destination. A second larger workshop in the fall will involve a greater number of strategic and tactical minds to help design avenues to reach the desired end-state. Each of the workshops described above will be followed by a robust review process where community members will be encouraged to provide feedback on the workshop outcomes. A forthcoming survey of chemical educators, conducted by ACS GCI, will also generate a better understanding of where and how green chemistry concepts are currently being taught. This is intended to be a transparent, community-driven process with several opportunities for community members to participate and provide feedback.


With such an extensive project, we’ll need all hands on deck. The inclusion of invested individuals is critical to the success of the Education Roadmap for Green Chemistry. More perspectives present throughout the planning process equates to a wider variety of needs that can be met. If you would like to participate, please let us know. Through meaningful collaborations we will not only start off in the right direction; we’ll arrive together in a more sustainable future where all chemistry is green chemistry.


For more information view the education roadmap webpage. If you would like to participate or have any questions please email Jennifer MacKellar at




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Contributed by Michel Philippe, PhD Senior Research Associate Sustainable Transformations Manager L’ORÉAL Research & Innovation



L’Oréal was the first corporation in the cosmetics industry to integrate Green Chemistry principles into its innovation model over 10 years ago. This concept refers to clean, eco-friendly chemistry that helps minimize environmental impact. These guidelines proposed by Paul Anastas and John Warner include using renewable raw materials, designing resource-efficient synthesis methods with minimal environmental impact, and developing substances with favorable environmental profiles designed with their subsequent degradation in mind. The challenge for our chemists is to invent high-performance molecules that are nevertheless environmentally friendly.




LOreal3.jpgL’Oréal’s approach is built upon three pillars which encompass all these Green Chemistry Principles principles. The first entails using primarily plant, and therefore renewable, raw materials. The second is developing eco-friendly processes. To this end, L’Oréal researchers are committed to reducing the number of synthesis steps as well as solvent and energy consumption. The third pillar is developing ingredients with favorable environmental profiles. Eco-design helps improve the formulas’ environmental profiles in many ways, including increasing their biodegradability and improving the water footprint of the final marketed products. To track progress in its application of Green chemistry, L’Oréal has developed a set of indicators that the Group uses to calculate the atom economy, the amount of waste per kilogram of manufactured product, the created ingredient’s renewable carbon content and the environmental risk generated by the final compound.





By using Green chemistry, L’Oréal has developed new active ingredients that would not have been possible with traditional chemistry. Having developed Pro-Xylane, an anti-aging ingredient obtained from a sawdust-derived sugar in 2006, the chemists at L’Oréal continued to explore the realm of sugar chemistry and subsequently developed Rhamnose, carrageenans and the family of C-glycosides. Such successes mean that L’Oréal now relies more than ever on Green Chemistry to honor its sustainable innovation commitments by 2020. By the end of 2014, 32% of new raw materials listed in the past year were of plant origin and 22% respected the principles of Green chemistry.






L’Oréal communicates  in the world-famous conferences such as Green Chemistry Gordon Conference, Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, International Symposium on Green Chemistry, IUPAC Green Chemistry Conference.

L’Oréal also publishes its scientific results in famous journals such as Green Chemistry journal, for instance:

  • Green Chem., 2012, 14, 952-956
  • Green Chem., 2013, 15, 963-969
  • Green Chem., 2015, DOI: 10.1039/c5gc00759c




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Written by Anthony Michetti, Harvard University


Universities play a vital role in supporting research and educating students to understand how chemistry and chemical design can affect health and sustainability. On Thursday, April 16, 2015 the FAS Green Program and the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology joined together to host Professor Wei Zhang, the Director of the Center for Green Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Boston, for a talk about the role of green chemistry at research universities like Harvard.


Zhang.pngAs Director of the Center for Green Chemistry, Professor Zhang is on the front lines of a movement to train more environmentally-conscious chemists. The discussion provided a great opportunity to explore what green chemistry means for Harvard, and the role the University can play as it relates to our Sustainability Plan and creating a more sustainable campus community.


Professor Zhang was introduced by CCB Director of Laboratories and FAS Science Director of Graduate Studies Allen Aloise who highlighted the department’s goals as they relate to Harvard’s Sustainability Plan and campus health and well-being. He discussed the responsibility and role that all chemists play in green chemistry, and in creating and sustaining a healthy environment.


He posed several questions relating to the regulation and non-regulation of various toxic chemicals and hazardous substances that we encounter on a daily basis alluding to the necessity of responsible decision making in our research labs. “In our research, and our careers, we must endeavor for a toxicological understanding of the compounds we create and assume the responsibility for determining their ecological fate," said Aloise.


The concept of Green Chemistry


The talk highlighted the concept of green chemistry, its history, and the educational opportunities it presents. Green Chemistry is defined as, “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances." ¹ The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry were established by UMass Boston alumni Paul Anastas, Director, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering and Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies at Yale University, and John Warner, President and Chief Technology Officer at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry. The concept of green chemistry originates from the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, which defined “source reduction” and made it official policy to reduce the amounts of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants being released into the environment either directly or through various waste streams.


"In our research, and our careers, we must endeavor for a toxicological understanding of the compounds we create and assume the responsibility for determining their ecological fate." -Allen Aloise, CCB Director of Laboratories and FAS Science Director of Graduate Studies


Professor Zhang made it clear that, “green chemistry is not an independent field but a philosophy that will be a non-separable part of chemistry.” He stressed that it will be necessary for the new generation of chemists to learn and practice green chemistry in order to clean up our environment, and they must understand what it means in order to do better as a chemist. He recommended that researchers reevaluate current projects to enhance the green component and address the problem while expanding their green chemistry “tool box.”


Incorporating into practice


Zhang focused on the fact that it is essential to have a concrete understanding of toxicology in the design and synthesis of new compounds. At the end of the discussion it was noted that student driven initiatives to impact daily practice in the lab, in addition to grant proposal and journal publication driven incentives, play a major role in moving green chemistry forward. The important role that partnerships between environmental, health, and safety departments and sustainability offices play in spreading the visibility and understanding of the philosophy of green chemistry was also emphasized.


Researchers that attended the presentation are already actively looking for opportunities to incorporate green chemistry in their research as they make day-to-day decisions. Some may already be utilizing the philosophy without specifically labeling it green chemistry.


A PhD Candidate in the Jacobsen Research Group shared, “I think that the talk really emphasized the extent to which the green chemistry philosophy could have a positive impact on our daily work as researchers. So often, we focus on system-level controls (like power generation/purchasing or on exhaust capture and processing in commodity chemical production) that we forget to notice the cumulative impact of our individual actions in academic labs.”  She concluded that, “I also see the opportunity for increased conversation to foster a rich cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas for contributing to innovative green research initiatives.”


A Post-Doctoral Fellow with the Kahne Research Group noted that, “It would be good to introduce green chemistry as a philosophy to first-year graduate students in the fall. The department would definitely benefit from it both environmentally and financially.”


A focus on health and well-being


Harvard’s holistic Sustainability Plan, released last year, highlights health and well-being as one of its five core pillars in the roadmap to building a sustainable campus community. There are several commitments and standards under health and well-being, with human exposure to toxic chemicals and their release into the environment being a main focus. The Sustainability Plan also establishes a commitment to identify and target at least two significant chemicals of concern for which viable alternatives exist, and develop a plan for eliminating exposure to those chemicals on campus.


"It would be good to introduce green chemistry as a philosophy to first-year graduate students in the fall. The department would definitely benefit from it both environmentally and financially." -Post-doctoral fellow in the Kahne Research Group


Exploring green chemistry at Harvard utilizes the three foundations of research, teaching, and institutional action to provide opportunities for postdocs, undergraduate, graduate and PhD students to learn about toxicology and the design of chemical products and processes. It adds another dynamic to the “living lab” concept of using the campus to generate beneficial and scalable outcomes and solutions that can be easily replicated by other universities and private industries. And perhaps most importantly, developing a strong foundation and understanding of green chemistry will help enhance students’ understanding of chemical design, life cycle analysis, and environmental policy so they may take these concepts with them as they move beyond the Harvard community and become professionals in their field.


This story is available at: Exploring the role of green chemistry at a research university | Sustainability at Harvard

From the Sustainability at Harvard News and Events




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Chris Coons, United States Senator from Delaware, is making sustainability a priority.


Senator Coons’ Newsroom has announced that Coons and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a bipartisan bill to encourage innovation in the field of sustainable chemistry. “The Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act (SCRDA) will encourage the design, development, and commercialization of high-performing chemicals, products, and processes that reduce or eliminate risk to human health and benefit the environment,” stated Coons.


IGCW 2015 Full Logo.jpgAlthough he has a wide range of priorities towards hard hitting issues, such as education, jobs, and the economy, his stance on energy is making people sit up and listen.  The Senator’s stance on energy, according to, includes financing clean energy projects, supporting innovative research and basic science,  investing in renewable energy solutions, developing next generation biofuels, supporting alternative vehicles, fuels and infrastructure, and encouraging the federal government to buy more clean energy, using our offshore resources wisely. He also makes conservation and upholding our sportsmen’s heritage a priority.


Christopher Avery, Ph.D. in analytical chemistry, as well as, a degree in public policy is a past congressional fellow for Senator Coons. Avery stated, “One of the things I appreciated the most about Senator Coons was that he already understood how scientific and technical understanding was folded into lots of issues.” Avery served under the Senator for a year in 2011, where he monitored and developed legislation, memos, letters, speeches, staff briefings and external studies. Avery was the staffer who ran the process and oversaw the execution of government agencies and monitored the use of science in regulatory decision-making, especially related to the chemical industry. “[Senator Coons] went out of his way to seek out my thoughts and opinions on issues that were outside of my direct technical knowledge because he thought scientists should have a seat at the table. I felt very privileged to be asked, and it made me even more motivated to do well”, stated Avery.


Regarding Coons’ activity with the SCRDA, Avery stated, “I’m confident that with Senator Coons leading that work, the chemistry community is in extremely good hands.” Avery believes that chemistry is a part of the Senator’s overall goal of pushing the US economy toward innovation, “It’s just one piece of that goal, but it’s an important one. And I think the Senator sees how it fits into the overall picture better than most.”


Senator Coons is a graduate of Amherst College with a B.A. in Chemistry and Political Science, has a Master's in Ethics from Yale Divinity School, and earned his law degree at Yale Law School.


Senator Coons will be a keynote speaker at the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference on Tuesday, July 14, at 11:45 a.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, N. Bethesda, MD. Avery stated, “Senator Coons brings a great sense of context. Policy making, like science, is not ever done in a vacuum. Understanding the political, social, technical, and contextual issues surrounding policy issues are absolutely critical to doing something about them. The Senator spent a lot of time with me to make sure I understood both the context and why it was important. It made me better at my job, and I hope he will do that for your attendees.”




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Contributed by Stephen C. DeVito, Ph.D., United States Environmental Protection Agency


It is hard to believe that in July, 2015 the 19th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference will take place. I remember when the Conference was first initiated back in the mid-1990s. My group, the Industrial Chemistry Branch within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics located in EPA Headquarters in Washington DC, was very involved with the ACS in initiating and organizing the conference. I personally was not too involved, but Drs. Joe Breen (my Branch Chief), Tracy Williamson, Paul Anastas, Carol Farris, and other EPA colleagues of mine were quite involved. One of the big challenge was identifying speakers. At the time green chemistry as a self-standing scientific discipline was in its infancy, perhaps still a neonate. There were very few people doing green chemistry-related research in those days. But, after much searching and vetting, researchers were identified and invited to present their findings at this new conference whose focus was unique and esoteric. Nerves were on edge as the very first Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference approached. But the Conference went very well, and was highly praised.


The Conference gets better each year. I have since been to many Green Chemistry & Engineering Conferences, and have participated in them as a planner, session leader, speaker, keynote speaker, and just an attendee. As the fields of green chemistry and green engineering have evolved and grown, so has the conference. No longer is there difficulty in finding speakers to give high quality presentations on cutting edge, innovative research. Quite the contrary. Nowadays many excellent presentation abstract submissions are received each year with each call for abstracts. Conference planners are often confronted with very difficult decisions as to which abstracts to accept and which to reject.


I have noticed that in recent years the conference has become much more robust in content. For example, more emphasis is placed on the concept of designing safer chemicals. This very important concept was virtually ignored by conference organizers until the 15th Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference, which took place in June, 2011. Dr Paul Anastas, who at the time was the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development and Chief Science Advisor to the EPA Administrator, and Dr Adelina Voutchkova, then a postdoctoral research associate at Yale University (now professor of chemistry at the George Washington University) organized the very first session on designing safer chemicals at a Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. I was very pleased to see this, as I am a huge proponent of the need for safer commercial chemicals to be designed and put into commerce. What made this event even more special, at least for me, was that Paul and Adelina personally invited me to give the keynote address at this session. Needless to say I felt quite honored. The session has since continued at every Conference thereafter.


Unique aspects of the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference are its intimacy, diversity, friendly, somewhat laid-back atmosphere, and that it is neither small nor large. I hope it stays this way because it makes it easy to both meet with old colleagues, and meet new people. At any Conference you will find well-known, revered subject matter experts, as well as, newcomers to the fields of green chemistry and green engineering. Unlike other, larger scientific meetings or conferences, where it is often difficult to meet or speak with well-known people, at the Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference it is much easier for novices to meet with experts to discuss matters of mutual interest.


Will I be at the 19th Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference in July, 2015? You bet I will! In addition to giving an oral presentation, I will sit-in on many of the sessions, meet-up with colleagues, and network. I hope to see you there!




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Contributed by Jorgen Gade Hyldgaard ApS, Mejsevaenget 7, DK-5610 Assens, Denmark


It has become increasingly apparent there is a clear, long-term demand for sustainability with respect to consumer products. The objective of this paper is to provide different approaches to sustainability via the two lifecycle based label principles: Eco-label and Natural/Organic labels and via (ii) CSR principles and to provide a better understanding of what is (iii) the contrary to sustainability and how to find and interpret relevant information on these aspects. In order to provide a better understanding of sustainability and relevant aspects, it is of the utmost importance to employ all available tools and work in unison the consumers.


Definition: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


As cosmetic chemists, and in reference to the above definition, one faces (at least) two problems in this regard:


1. 90 % of cosmetic products are based on raw materials that are, at least, partly prepared from finite (petrochemical-based) resources such as mineral oil or gas. Despite petroleum companies’ best, optimistic estimations for continued oil supply, it is evident that supply is less than the demand. Consequently, it could be conceived that the net result is a reduction in the available of such resources for the next two generations. The use of cracked petroleum products as raw materials for synthesis of ingredients not only affects cosmetics but medicine and other important products for mankind(2).


2. The use of such finite resources produces two clearly undesirably by-products: waste and pollution. One such example of a by-product is carbon dioxide (CO2).  According to research (3), accumulation of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere is only one factor of numerous variables which have been attributed to why four of the nine planetary boundaries already have been crossed. Boundaries are threshold levels and are defined as points of no return; for the world and humanity.


In future it seems apparent that further issues will arise associated with these areas, which will likely involve, and be influence by, consumers. Consumer awareness and education, together with like minded groups, will increasingly result in further proactive developments to tackle on these issues.




The cosmetic industry must provide consumers with the possibility to make an informed choice with reference to the sustainability of cosmetic products.Truly informed choice can only be made via product claims and branding, which can often result in misleading the average consumer.  Therefore, the responsible use by (cosmetic) corporations to include relevant marketing, in addition to effective environmental and social responsibility, should be used in order to better assist consumer’s choice in terms of sustainable products.


All players within the (cosmetic) industry will have to consider and react to this situation. As such processes are already in motion to examine alternatives methods for sustainability, and this is where labels can help consumers to choose more sustainable products.


In light of the above, this document will discuss some of the relevant labels that might be relevant to use in this context. Additionally, we will look at some of the standard ingredients used and their status in the REACH process. This document is divided into four sections. The first two sections, which outline two different approaches towards sustainability, will focus on:the Eco labels and (ii) the natural/organic labels. The third section will cover issues related to the life cycle of products: Production processes, use of other resources and waste. The fourth main part will investigate some consequences of not using sustainable ingredients and connect to the REACH and CLP systems.




HYLDGAARD3.pngIn general the Eco labels focus upon life cycle assessments (Figure 1) (e.g. biodegradability) and measurements of the output of the process: What happens to the cosmetic product in the outlet? In terms of the final cosmetic, the intrinsic physical and chemical characteristics each ingredient must be evaluated. Factors that in need of evaluation, such as an ingredient’s inherent biodegradability and toxicity (aquatic toxicity), can be assessed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) often provides guidelines for such required parameters. Further examples of necessary evaluation include those requires those ingredients marked as possible fragrance allergens, which under EU cosmetics legislation need to be indicated on packaging when concentrations exceed a given level, and impurities resulting from polymers, tensides and emulsifiers which should be kept at very low levels. As a result this presents a big challenge for producers of cosmetics containing perfumes, natural extracts and emulsifiers. A clear method in order to reduce product waste, and in turn promote sustainable action, would be to focus on a reduction of the packaging material compared with the amount of active ingredients and their efficacy. An example of such an OECD data package is given in (4). This recent report (reference in page 18-21 of (4)) provides data concerning chronic toxicity to fish and other aquatic vertebrates, invertebrates and algae, in addition to biodegradation data linked to the chain length and the degree of ethoxylation.  Data of this sort is needed for Eco-label applications with the ultimate aim being to ensure the survival and preservation of all of aquatic organisms in our waters.


As a result of the continuous strive to achieve for higher goals regarding environmental issues the criteria is revised every 4-5 years. The ideas presented and demands required, which go beyond the specific formula could be demands on production facilities, waste treatment and …


The focus of the Eco-labels is towards each company having a general ecological certification akin to ISO 14001 whilst, and for example, BRA-miljøval focus on low pollution from transportation of goods and personnel (carbon footprint). Comparison of different Eco labels – details

  • Nordic Ecolabel – the “Swan” label
  • EU Ecolabel – the “Flower” label
  • Bra Miljøval





Here the focus is on the intrinsic contribution to the products: the raw materials. The questions of concern here are: Do these come from nature? Are they grown, processed and handled in a sustainable and responsible way? For many a clear example of where both of the above questions can be answer with a ‘yes’ is organic agriculture whereby production rules require the absence of (for example) synthetic fertilizers, which may pollute land or waters, and biocides. With regard to life cycle principles, the materials and produce from such production methods follow the generally accepted theorem: What nature can build, it can also break down. Whilst it can be the case that certain ingredients will not fully biodegrade in 28 days (according to the OECD 301 standards), the products and raw material are seen as biodegradable.  Hence, they will be broken down to fundamental building blocks for the next cycle of (new) natural substances. Natural and organic labels have existed for many years. However, they cover different methodologies/practices, interpretations or definitions (particularly of natural), and have evolved from different parts of the world. This has led to certain labels which are often not well-known and with differences between their criteria. The following scheme provides a basic summary, however the overall picture is really complex.





Other topics of utmost importance to sustainability, from a general perspective and other than those specifically involving cosmetic product ingredients, involves collective (corporate) social responsibility.


This area poses the following questions:

  • What are the energy consumption requirements of the company? What are the logistical transport costs for its suppliers and the transportation of workers and materials?
  • What is the carbon footprint? (5)
  • What packaging materials are of utmost importance? Are these materials from natural source or mineral source? Are they reusable? Are they combustible without toxic pollutants?
  • How are people involved? Is there children labor? What are the working conditions for the employees etc.?


In Europe concerns, and answers to, these types of questions are increasingly becoming more and more popular amongst the general public.  This has in turn, resulted these concerns becoming equally crucial for companies themselves. A prime example is the building of new, state-of-the-art data center facilities in Ireland and Denmark by Apple Inc., which follows their decision to provide 100 percent of the energy requirements from renewable energy sources. At present, many multi-national cosmetic industries are focusing on such issues. It remains the case that for the majority of consumers the product in question, its efficiency and cost, remains the focus when it comes to a purchase. Therefore, labels are in a good position to effectively communicate with the consumer when choosing sustainable products.




Many of these cosmetic ingredients remain problematic from a sustainability point of view since a majority of the current ingredients are synthesized from finite sources such as mineral, oil, or gas. Additionally, many of these ingredients are non-biodegradable, which means that they will persist and accumulate in Nature. Under the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemicals) legislation there is the potential, in the absence of regulatory provisional requirements, for such unsustainable, non-biodegradable ingredients to be registered for use in the EU during the coming years. As a consequence, it is likely that there will be increased emphasis and additional focus on environmental issues, which are of equal, and major concern. Specifically, these concerns are related to the clarification of whether ingredients are biodegradable.  It is apparent that the problematic products are those which are non-biodegradable. The questions therefore are: Under what conditions are these ingredients biodegradable, and can the products of their degradation be used by natural environmental cycles to provide the basis for new raw materials/ingredients? Notable, there is often a close connection between those ingredients that are non-biodegradable, and those ingredients with the following markings of concern (6):


  • H400 Very toxic to aquatic life, R50
  • H410 Very toxic to aquatic life with long ‐ lasting effects, R50/53
  • H411 Toxic to aquatic life with long ‐ lasting effects, R51/53
  • H412 Harmful to aquatic life with long ‐ lasting effects, R52/53
  • H413 May cause long ‐ lasting harmful effects to aquatic life, R53
  • EUH059 Hazardous to the ozone layer, R59
  • H340 May cause genetic defects, R46
  • H341 Suspected of causing genetic defects, R68
  • H350 May cause cancer, R45
  • H350i May cause cancer by inhalation, R49
  • H351 Suspected of causing cancer, R40
  • H360F May damage fertility, R60
  • H360D May damage the unborn child, R61
  • H360FD May damage fertility. May damage the unborn child, R60/61
  • H360Fd May damage fertility. Suspected of damaging the unborn child, R60/63
  • H360Df May damage the unborn child. Suspected of damaging fertility, R61/62
  • H361f Suspected of damaging fertility, R62
  • H361d Suspected of damaging the unborn child, R63
  • H361fd Suspected of damaging fertility. Suspected of damaging the unborn child, R62/63
  • H362 May cause harm to breast fed children, R64
  • H370 Causes damage to organs, R39/23, R39/24, R39/25, R39/26, R39/27, R39/28
  • H371 May cause damage to organs, R68/20, R68/21, R68/22
  • H372 Causes damage to organs through- prolonged or repeated exposure, R48/25, R48/24, R48/23
  • H373 May cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure, R48/20, R48/21,
  • R48/22


As a useful point of reference empirical data from many ingredients is available on the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) website (7);the general requirement being the availability of a CAS number for chemical ingredient in question. Some of the ingredients of interest included on the ECHA website are used in cosmetics, and include (for example): Silicone oils (especially the small cyclic D4 and D5 molecules), phthalates, borates, EDTA, a number of conditioners and certain toxic (heavy) metals.


Many cosmetic development departments try to avoid the sustainable markings because this gives restrictions as to the number of ingredients possible for use. From a start point of view, formulating according to specified label criteria may lead to lower cosmetic quality of the final cosmetic products in relation to consumer acceptance. However skilled formulators will soon learn how to prepare nice cosmetic formulas under new restrictions.  By analogy to perfumes: When or if certain ingredients become restricted or banned, the creative development team will always find a solution. Hence, restricting the use of raw materials of choice will always be responded to by challenges of innovation whose solutions fundamentally require creativity.


It has become increasingly apparent there is a clear, long-term demand for sustainability with respect to consumer products. With respect to possibility of choices of sustainable cosmetic products, manufacturer claims can often be misleading to the consumer. For this reason labels are required to provide consumers with an informed choice regarding sustainable products. Though problematically there exists many labels within a given sector and, as a consequence, can lead to confusion and inability for the consumer to differentiate between them.  Nevertheless, the traditions in the natural and organic world market vary from market to market and changes towards harmonization of such terms will take time. Indeed, consensus agreement on clear, strict standards and principles might be able to pave the way towards fewer and more broadly accepted labels. Two principles of sustainability can be established with regards to labels; both of which are based on life cycle thinking:


i. The Eco label principle where focus is on the output, and documented factors such as environmental toxicology and biodegradation or

ii. The natural/organic principle: Nature will give back to Nature. In order to protect and preserve the Earth for possible future generations it seems apparent that one should to take responsibility in the present to avoid further points of no return.




  1. This article was originally published on H&PCToday, a publication from Tekno Scienze Publisher:
  2. Jorgen Gade HYLDGAARD "Sustainability is Sustainable" HPC Today Vol. 10(2), pp. 70-73, 2015
  3. International Institute for Sustainable Development; What is sustainable Development? Environmental, economic and social well-being for today and tomorrow, IISD website available at (Accessed 28th February 2015)
  4. BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2014, available at -statistical-review-of-world-energy-2014-full-report.pdf (Accessed 28th February 2015)
  5. Stockholm Resilience Center – Sustainability Science for Biosphere Stewardship; Planetary Boundaries 2.0 – new and improved, available at -boundaries-2.0---new-and-improved.html (Accessed 28th February 2015)
  6. HERA – Human & Environmental Risk Assessment on ingredients of European household cleaning products: Alcohol Ethoxylsulphates (AES) – Environmental Risk Assessment; Available at (Accessed 28th February 2015)
  7. Time for change; What is a carbon footprint – definition, available at (Accessed 2nd March 2015)
  8. The CLP regulation: Regulation (EC) no 1272/2008 of the European Parliament and of the council on classification. Labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (page 1352-1355) available at :PDF (Accessed 2nd March 2015).
  9. European Chemicals Agency – ECHA website: (Accessed 2nd March 2015)




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Contributed by Annette Doerfel, Communications Manager OPTIBIOCAT, BIOCOM AG, Prof Vincenza Faraco, project Coordinator OPTIBIOCAT, University of Naples “Federico II”

When strolling the supermarket aisles, it becomes apparent that an increasing number of products bear labels such as “natural”, “organic” or “bio”. The demand for the ‘natural’ cosmetics market has shown incredible growth in recent years. However, this is just the beginning. Consumers have also developed a keen interest in knowing more about the way beauty products like lotions, make-up products and colors are made. Are the labels transparent enough? And does the processing of cosmetics demand excessive energy consumption? In future, the beauty industry will need to establish and demonstrate environment-friendly production processes and novel cosmetic ingredients with a lower eco-footprint. Satisfying this consumer demand will be a challenge for the beauty industry. This is where OPTIBIOCAT comes into place: The project, which is backed by around €7 million of EU funding under the FP7-program, aims to assist the cosmetics sector by equipping it with the knowledge required to introduce new eco-friendly processes based on optimized biocatalysts and the use of natural ingredients. This will help make industrial practices more sustainable and cost-effective.

OPTIBIOCAT: Bio-processes for lipsticks, liquids and lotions



The classic chemical cosmetic production to-date comes along with many side-effects such as the use of potentially hazardous catalysts and the release of unwanted residues or by-products. Antioxidants are being used in an increasing number of applications and their market is growing at a considerable rate. OPTIBIOCAT intends to make a difference here: the project aims to change the chemical production processes of antioxidants substituting these with biocatalysts driven processes. This will allow for lower-temperatures (50-60°C) compared to those of chemical processes (up to 160°C). High temperatures in current chemical techniques need a large amount of energy, making the process expensive as well as environmentally unsound. “The environmental footprint for the production of the identified antioxidants will be significantly reduced with our innovative biocatalysts,” says Professor Vincenza Faraco from the University of Naples "Federico II", who leads the OPTIBIOCAT consortium. “In addition, unwanted side reactions will be minimized, resulting in highly pure products that will allow for improved product quality and reduced process costs,“ says the project coordinator.


Novel compounds and enzymes for cleaner production processes and high-quality cosmetics


Workpackage-Organigramm.jpgThe main concept behind the project is the use of synthetic capabilities of the enzymes feruloyl esterases (FAEs) and glucuronoyl esterases (GEs) to produce antioxidants by enzymatic esterification. The global market for industrial enzymes was estimated at $3.3 billion in 2010, and is expected to reach $4.4 billion by 2015. OPTIBIOCAT aims at boosting the market for FAEs and GEs. Now in its second year, OPTIBIOCAT is still in its early stages, yet has uncovered a number of key products and results. Among these are 1,636 putative fungal FAEs, 166 putative fungal GEs and 500 putative bacterial FAE protein sequences identified by genome mining and gene model correction for 54 fungal candidate FAEs and 20 fungal candidate GEs, the production of 250 putative bacterial FAEs, the production and characterisation of 30 novel fungal candidate FAEs and 20 novel fungal candidate GEs. Some of these enzymes were selected for their outstanding properties and along with some biocatalysts, which are already available in the consortium, will be optimised in order to enhance yield and productivity of the reactions, generating the main seven antioxidants identified as targets within the project. Additionally, FAEs and GEs will be tested for production of other compounds with enhanced biological activity and desired properties for cosmetic applications. Following refinement of the enzymes, the fermentation and bioconversion processes will be scaled up, with the production of enzymes and compounds increasing from 1-20 litres; the ability of the newly developed biocatalysts to work in conditions that mimic industrial settings will be demonstrated in the project. Following this, the technological and economic viability of the up-scaled process, the environmental aspects of their industrial application, and the allergenic properties and safety of the antioxidant compounds will be assessed.


“The variety of tasks to be performed requires the involvement of a highly skilled partnership,” explains Faraco. Therefore, OPTIBIOCAT brings together a broad interdisciplinary team of researchers, academics and industry experts, with 16 partners from Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland covering the entire development process, from genome and microbial mining to application. The OPTIBIOCAT antioxidants will be tested by Greek natural cosmetics producer Korres.


Meet the OPTIBIOCAT consortium:


OPTIBIOCAT will organize a full-day per-conference workshop to EFIB 2015 in Brussels on the 27th October 2015. Scientists and industry experts will discuss new developments in enzyme overproduction and will especially put an emphasis on emerging technologies and focus on the practical aspects.


More information:




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