Contributed by David Constable, Director, ACS Green Chemistry Institute®
I’ve just returned from a week-long trip to New Delhi and Mumbai, India and two different green chemistry conferences. Traveling to India makes for a long trip, but I am always very deeply appreciative of the tremendous hospitality, generosity and respect shown to me by our Indian colleagues; it’s very humbling. Since I was last in India around this time in 2013, it seems as though green chemistry has taken hold in India, if these Conferences are any indication. That is cause for tremendous optimism given the environmental conditions that are a consequence of rapid industrialization and the fact that few pollution controls have been rigorously enforced in years past. At least in these conferences, there was evidence of a deep commitment to making lasting changes.
The first conference I attended was in New Delhi and was arranged by Professor Rakesh Sharma of the University of Delhi. The conference theme was “Chemistry for Tomorrow’s World” and was largely attended by the academic community in and around New Delhi. Professor Sharma is and has been a tireless supporter and promoter of green chemistry in India since 2001, and he continues to take every opportunity to convene conferences and workshops across India. I am always impressed when he presents the history of his involvement in green chemistry over the past 14 years through a succession of conferences, symposia, workshops, television appearances and print media.
The second conference I had the privilege of attending was Industrial Green Chemistry World (IGCW) 2015 in Mumbai. This is my third IGCW, and it was by far the most successful of the last three conferences I’ve attended. Nitesh Mehta, Badresh and Krishna Padia have been business partners (Newreka), founders of the Green ChemisTree Foundation, and conveners of the IGCW. It is hard to imagine the degree of their commitment to green chemistry and engineering, but the vision they have had for green chemistry and engineering has sustained them through some very difficult times for their business, and less successful conferences in past years. I don’t know of any other company in the world that even comes close to the degree of their commitment to advancing green chemistry and engineering and I am truly inspired by what they have accomplished.
European businesses, in addition to Indian businesses, members of the Pollution Control Board and academics were all present, with a total of about 300 registered for the two-day Conference. L’Oreal launched their sustainability plan for India at this conference, and companies like Clariant gave multiple talks about their commitment to green chemistry. After the Conference (Friday and Saturday) and this past Sunday, the Green ChemisTree foundation sponsored workshops at IICT for students, and at the National College, for teachers. I had the privilege of speaking at both these events and was especially moved by the number of teachers present on a Sunday. Sunday is the only day off in India for many, and is especially difficult for professional women as this is the only day they have to tend to things at home, so to see the commitment of so many women to being present to learn about green chemistry is very moving and humbling indeed.
Overall, the quality of the talks was excellent and I look forward to the next Conference in two years; if this year is any indication, it should be an excellent Conference!
Just before Thanksgiving I participated in a meeting of a variety of companies and other stakeholders at DuPont’s North Carolina facility. The meeting was convened by Jay Golden of Duke University and Robert Handfield of NC State. Both professors have been involved in various sustainability initiatives like the Sustainability Consortium, the Outdoor Apparel Association, etc., and were interested in seeing what they could do to help spur the development of the bio-economy. My colleague Ann Lee-Jeffs and I were attending given our work over the past year to investigate the establishment of a Biotechnology Leadership Roundtable (BTLR). The BTLR concept has been promoted in a variety of venues and we are still testing the waters to see what we can do to promote scientific collaborations in bio-based chemicals development and commercialization across the supply chain. We are hopeful that we might move this particular initiative forward in the New Year.
Well, it’s been an amazing year and hard to believe that it is rapidly drawing to a close. I’d like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a very happy, safe and prosperous New Year.
As always, please do let me know what you think.
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