By Paul T. Anastas, Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Yale University and David T. Allen, Editor-in-Chief of ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., Center for Energy and Environmental Resources, Department of Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
Reflecting on a quarter century of advances in the fields of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, the strong scientific foundation that has been built is worthy of celebration. Innumerable green products and processes have been commercialized, with more than 100 of these scientific and technological advances recognized in the United States with Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. Other innovations have been honored by similar awards in many other nations. As documented in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, and other journals serving the field, the global pace of advances in molecular, process, and systems design, using principles of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, is accelerating.
Although the work of the field that has been documented over the past 25 years is a tremendous beginning, what we find most exciting is the power and the potential of the next 25 years. Innovations in green chemistry and engineering, at molecular, process, and systems levels, are reported at an ever-increasing rate. The principles, tools, and metrics of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering that can guide these innovations have advanced in their sophistication. It is now possible for researchers and designers to quantify many dimensions of the improvements in sustainability that result from their work. These metrics serve as compasses and guideposts on pathways to sustainability.
It is our vision that, over the next 25 years, innovators around the world will use foundational and methodological advances in Green Chemistry and Green Engineering to transform major sectors of the global economy, ranging from fuels and chemicals, to transportation, agriculture, and water purification and delivery. The next generations of chemists, engineers, and other innovators will use new sets of tools and principles. These tools and principles will need to be integrated into chemistry and engineering education.
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