64 Replies Latest reply on Mar 28, 2016 12:58 PM by David Constable

    Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

    Laura Hoch

      On March 28th please join us on the Green Chemistry Innovation Portal for the third Ask the Innovators event: “What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?” The mainstreaming of green chemistry is defined as when all chemistry — including chemistry and engineering research, education, and policy — becomes green chemistry. For an introduction to this topic, see this recent report from the GC3. During our online discussion, you can ask the author of the report, along with experts from industry and academia about what they think are the barriers to mainstream green chemistry, and what will have to happen to overcome them.

       

      The experts joining us for this session:

      • Amy Perlmutter, Perlmutter Associates
        Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) Mainstreaming Project Lead
        Amy Perlmutter is an independent consultant whose practice includes strategy, stakeholder engagement, communications, and facilitation to build the green economy.  She serves as the Project Lead of the Mainstreaming Group for the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) and is the author of the GC3’s Agenda to Mainstream Green Chemistry. Prior to consulting, Amy was the founding director of the Chelsea Center for Recycling and Economic Development, working with businesses, researchers, and government to increase the use of recyclable materials in manufacturing processes in Massachusetts.  She has also served as the Director of Recycling for the City of San Francisco. Amy holds a BA in International Studies and Environmental Policy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MPA from Harvard University. She is a Fellow at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production.

      • Babette Pettersen, BioAmber
        Senior Advisor
        Babette Pettersen currently serves as a Senior Advisor to BioAmber Inc., a market leader in bio-based succinic acid and a pioneer in renewable chemicals, where she held the role of Chief Commercial Officer since 2013. Ms. Pettersen built BioAmber's commercial team to develop applications for bio-based succinct acid across multiple markets. Under her leadership, Ms. Pettersen's team created market demand for, and accelerated market adoption of, more sustainable solutions throughout the value chain that are based on green chemistry.  Before joining BioAmber, Ms. Pettersen led new business development for Performance Materials at Royal DSM. Prior to DSM, Babette held Marketing & New Business Development roles in different industry groups at Dow Corning. Ms. Pettersen has a BSc in Biology from Wellesley College, USA and an MBA from INSEAD, France.

       

      • Eric Beckman, University of Pittsburgh
        Professor of Engineering and Co-Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation
        Eric Beckman received his Ph.D. in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1988. As a Professor of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, he and his research group examine the use of molecular design to solve problems in green engineering and in the design of materials for use in tissue engineering. In 2003, Dr. Beckman helped to create the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, a school of engineering institute that examines the design of more sustainable infrastructure. In 2005, Dr. Beckman co-founded Cohera Medical Inc. (with Michael Buckley) to commercialize surgical adhesive technology developed at the University. Dr. Beckman’s research group has produced over 200 publications in the area of molecular design and more than 40 patents.

       

      • Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation, Inc.
        Director, Sustainability & Authenticity
        Martin Wolf is responsible for ensuring the design of sustainable products at Seventh Generation, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of ecological household and personal care products. Mr. Wolf brings over 40 years of experience in industrial and environmental chemistry to his work, starting with environmental fate and metabolism studies for agricultural chemicals, followed by studies of the occurrence of hazardous chemicals in the environment, conducting life cycle studies of product systems, and designing more sustainable household cleaning products. At Seventh Generation, Mr. Wolf has developed frameworks for environmental product design, helped educate his coworkers, customers, and consumers about the environmental impacts of consumer products, successfully lobbied for passage of phosphate bans in several states, helped develop standards for voluntary ingredient disclosure, and brought change to the cleaning products industry through more sustainable product designs. Mr. Wolf holds an M.A. in Chemistry from Yeshiva University (New York) and a B.S. in Chemistry from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Massachusetts).

       

      Ask the experts anything you like: Why isn’t green chemistry mainstream practice now? What are the new innovations that will transform the industry? What business strategies, government policies, and strategic partnerships are needed to make all chemistry, green chemistry?

        • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
          Monica Becker

          Looking forward to the discussion!

           

          I'm wondering whether the panelists have specific ideas or examples of the types of fundamental scientific or technological breakthroughs that would help us move down the path toward mainstreaming green chemistry?

          • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

            Hi all - congratulations on all the great work you are doing.  I think you are asking the right questions!

             

            I am wondering what you see as the role of capital markets in getting green chemistry to scale?  How should investors be engaged in a meaningful way to create indices, funds, or other investment products (for example green bonds) targeted toward solutions that involve green chemistry?

              • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                Amy Perlmutter

                I think we need to get a better understanding of what the needs of companies are now for capital, where they are accessing it and where they are having trouble and then find the right instrument and engage the right kinds of investors.  We probably know that anecdotally for some companies, but I don’t know if we know it on a more global scale.

                • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

                  The role of capital markets is key to getting green chemistry to scale. We continue to hear that start-ups and even larger companies that have developed technology  to produce major new chemical platforms based on green chemistry  are unable to get the funding to achieve commercial scale, and get products based on green chemistry to market successfully. This is a 'valley of death' for emerging companies, and the level of funding required ($100MM+) is too large for VC's, requires multiple parallel approaches including public funding (IPO's), strategic partners with capacity to finance these plants,  government agencies and most recently, major brands who see value in new products based on green chemistry  to meet their strategic objectives around sustainability  

                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                    Eric Beckman

                    What’s interesting is that everyone seems to think that chemistry innovations require enormous scale, and hence enormous investment. Some of the best exits over the past decade have been in the cosmetics space – and of course cosmetics are chemicals. Cosmetics that are safer and “naturally sourced” are in serious demand by that segment of the population that uses cosmetics – green chemistry embraces a broad range of products, and hence is not limited to larger commodity chemicals. If we always think of green chemistry as merely better ways to make things, rather than the whole gamut, we will lose sight of what’s possible re investment.

                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                      Eric Beckman

                      I would, in addition to looking at scale (which suggests public companies), look at “exits” by smaller companies that incorporate green molecular design into their business model – private equity is becoming more involved with earlier stage companies than ever before, and the more good “exit” examples we have, the better we’ll look to capital markets in general.

                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

                      Good afternoon panelists!

                       

                      My question relates more to academia - how do you think lecturers and professors should approach cirriculum modifications and where do you think they should start?

                       

                      Thank you

                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                          Eric Beckman

                          Green chemistry in practice very much needs a multi-discipline approach, while I have found (in academia) that we tend to segregate chemists and chemical engineers from other majors once they become sophomores. For example, life cycle analysis is a key aspect of green product design, yet this is typically only taught to civil engineers (who get very little chemistry background). Product design is a key feature of green chemistry as used by the private sector, yet we typically only teach product design to mechanical engineers (who receive almost no chemistry training). Ethnography is a key feature of product design, yet this is taught to anthropologists primarily. So, for me, step 1 is to work with colleagues from other departments to create a course or courses that will mix disciplines where green chemistry is one among several key tools needed to bring greener chemical products to the fore – the chemistry students will get an novel view on how their science relates to others, and the other disciplines will receive, possibly for the first time, help in dealing with “things molecular”.

                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                          Anna Ivanova

                          Sounds like a great group of panelists. A couple of questions:

                          1) What can academics do to accelerate the mainstreaming of green chemistry? Partnering with businesses to address real-world green chemistry needs is critical, but are there other approaches that are being underutilized?

                           

                          2) What are the challenges a small business or start-up in green chemistry is likely to encounter, and how can it overcome them?

                           

                          Thanks for your time!

                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                              Eric Beckman

                              The key to any successful small business is a strong customer focus – one must never lose sight of what the customer wants when creating a business based on green chemistry. Clearly, no customer desires hazard, so reducing hazard (versus the competition) should be desirable to customers, so long as price and performance are also competitive. So, rather than making green chemistry the “end”, can one use green chemistry to elevate performance, reduce cost, and lower hazard? A good example might be in terms of plasticized PVC – one could spend significant time creating a greener plasticizer, but the customer does not desire a greener plasticizer, but rather a soft, pliable material that is safe to use (these are not the same). As such, perhaps create a material that requires no plasticizer at all, but is soft and pliable without any plasticizer. The driving force must always be customer desired outcomes, the strength of the competition, and the size of the market – this is the definition of opportunity.

                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                Eric Beckman

                                Our key products are our students and our science – while I won’t downplay the value of our science, I want to also emphasize the value of our students as products and the influence they can have on the use of green chemistry in practice (look, for example, on the influence of millenials on the use of social media by business!!!). As I noted in another reply, chemists and chemical engineers tend to be segregated from other disciplines once they become sophomores; this is not the case for other majors. Aside from chemists and Chem Eng’s, very few other majors (business to design to various engineering majors) get any exposure to chemistry, much less green chemistry. Indeed, the attitude of these other students towards chemistry is that it’s something that will kill you if you're not careful. So, one way to accelerate green chemistry is to create classes that deliberately mix disciplines with the goal of creating greener products that are based on molecular designs – the chemists get an exposure to the world of creating products and businesses, while the others see chemistry as more than “creating things that might kill you”.

                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                Jennifer Dodson

                                Looks like a great panel. This is such an important topic and I have several questions, I'll stick to a few!

                                 

                                a) Like Erika I'm interested in the changes that are needed in education to embed Green Chemistry in the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, but particularly how can this be done in a system where lecturers guard their independence to teach as and what they choose and where there is a lot of competition to include new topics in a fast changing chemistry environment.

                                 

                                b) Can Green Chemistry be mainstreamed without wider policy changes that embed the external environmental costs of new products, such as the impacts of mining for metals or pollution from disposal? If policy changes are required how should chemists be involved in calling for those policy changes?

                                 

                                c) Developing new products that use green chemistry approaches and that are truly sustainable needs more than just chemists - it needs engineers, biologists, banks, businesses, social scientists - how can we develop chemists who have those broader perspectives and connections to consider the holistic picture of what they are creating and have greater potential for it reaching society?

                                 

                                And..on a positive note...in Europe, the changing funding landscape is leading to more chemists focusing on green or sustainable chemistry.

                                 

                                Looking forward to hearing the answers.

                                Jennie

                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                    Eric Beckman

                                    I believe that we need to steal a page from our electrical engineering/computer science brethren – owing to the explosive growth in IT innovations coming from Universities, EE/CS students are increasingly asked to work collaboratively with business students, medical students, and others in the classroom, to accelerate the pace of IT innovation -- such classes are required for their degrees and are highly desirable. Why couldn’t we also require chemists to work collaboratively in the classroom with folk from other disciplines, and make such classwork either count as a technical elective or make it required?

                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                      Amy Perlmutter

                                      Jennifer- I'm going to respond to part three of your question. Let me start by saying that I am not a chemist! My last chemistry class was in high school. I had an excellent liberal arts education as an undergrad and I think those kinds of degrees are important, though have become less valued. I think we all have heard stories about how people have had to take an elective in a field that is not their major and have had their lives changed.  I don’t know how chemistry is taught, but I do think that requiring liberal arts courses- philosophy, anthropology, psychology, etc- helps broaden peoples’ thinking and makes them more well rounded and able to approach problems.

                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                        Amy Perlmutter

                                        Regarding part 2 of the question. I think the cost of internalizing externalities is important for all kinds of environmental issues. Externalities makes development of any kind of cleaner technology more difficult.  I don't have a specific recommendation on what role chemists can play in this. But I do think there is a role for the advocacy community to work with businesses and with chemists to ID where the externalities are and how to overcome them. The issues are not specific to green chemistry. Petroleum subsidies is one example.  Perhaps chemists can support carbon fees or similar activities.  I think they would bring a new voice to the conversation.

                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                          Eric Beckman

                                          Re developing chemists with broader perspectives, there are numerous programs in existence that bring freshmen together to attack problems (UMass, for one, but there are many others) -- this allows students to see problems from multiple viewpoints before they become bound by their disciplines.

                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                            Babette Pettersen

                                            Absolutely agree that developing new products that use green chemistry approaches and that are truly sustainable needs more than just chemists. One way to help develop chemists who have those broader perspectives and connections to consider the holistic picture of what they are creating and have greater potential for it reaching society is to partner them up with the other functions that can contribute these perspectives, much the way it is done in a corporate environment, where new opportunities (chemistries) are reviewed in the context of a broader set of information (market, business, environmental, societal) that is contributed by other functions; effectively, team up the chemists with other business people, marketeers, financiers, etc.)

                                             

                                            Thanks for the positive note on Europe; "the changing funding landscape is leading to more chemists focusing on green or sustainable chemistry". The flip side of that is that there is not enough funding in Europe for companies to scale up to commercial capacity. This is being done in other parts of the world, like North America and Canada, where feedstock is available at competitive prices, energy prices are extremely competitive (compared to Europe) and different types of Government funding (USDA, DOE loans, and loans from various Canadian government agencies; SDTC, EDC, et al) is available. So, while the science is funded in Europe, the plants are being built for now in the US and Canada.....

                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

                                            I actually have two main questions:

                                             

                                            1) Do we have enough feedstock and technological solutions available (now) to substitute or compete with non-renewable chemistry?

                                             

                                            2) What will the role of biorefineries be in this process? Do we need to transform our industrial system into a Web of Biorefineries in order to reach this goal?

                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                Martin Wolf

                                                Two good questions!  No, we do not have enough cost-effective feedstock and technologies to replace non-renewable chemistries. Case-in-point is palm kernel oil for the soap and detergent industry. We are creating an unsustainable although biobased feedstock with palm kernel oil. We need renewable feedstocks that are less damaging to the earth. Algal oil, perhaps?

                                                 

                                                Biorefineries will be pivotal to the adoption of biofeedstocks. This is how we will create a robust source of biomaterials for a robust green chemistry.

                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                  Eric Beckman

                                                  Further, one of the bottlenecks in biorefineries is usually separations – in traditional refineries one uses very energy-intensive distillation, yet design of distillation processes has been known since the late 1920’s and now entirely computerized (meaning that even sophomore engineers can do it); this is not the case for many needed separations embedded within biorefineries. Further, more work needs to be done on the impact of variable feedstocks on the performance of the various processes within a biorefinery; this is entirely known for petroleum.

                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                  Christiana Briddell

                                                  Hello,

                                                   

                                                  I'm looking forward to this discussion. I'm interested in metrics for green chemistry and how you think the community can drive this conversation forward. In conversations with various companies, I have gathered that it is difficult for companies to ascribe sustainability improvements to green chemistry specifically. What are realistic metrics that can capture this data without becoming a burden to manufacturers and others producing products using chemistry?

                                                   

                                                  Christiana

                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

                                                    People often talk about integrating systems thinking into the curriculum.  Can you describe the attributes of systems thinking that will be the most important for mainstreaming green chemistry and how should universities go about integrating these into the curriculum?

                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

                                                      One of the problems I face as someone marketing a new green product is that it doesn't necessarily move the needle (we make a low-cost plant-based replacement for plastics) - a representative for a major soft drink brand told me, "Sustainability moves people, but not as much as the World Cup moves people.  So we'll spend more of our funding on the World Cup."

                                                       

                                                      Speaking with many people in Green Chemistry, they focus on the environmental and social benefits without focusing on the bottom line for businesses.  The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has been successful in getting corporate buy-in on packaging sustainability, and agreeing on universal metrics.  Do you think it's possible to get corporate buy-in, in other areas, for something as straightforward as a label that lists carbon content and hazardous substances used in production?

                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                          Martin Wolf

                                                          Unfortunately, i agree with the representative of the soft drink company. The materials behind the soft drink container won't move people as much as the soft drink or as much as the right sponsorship or cause. Remember though that you are trying to sell to the soft drink manufacturer, not the consumer. What will motivate him? Price? Safety/health? Performance? Sell the soft drink manufacturer. If he sees a benefit to his customer, i assure you he will sell it!

                                                           

                                                          Another approach is for you to go directly to the consumer and get her to demand "greener" products. If she demands greater sustainability from the soft drink manufacturer, he will provide it.

                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                            Babette Pettersen

                                                            You have hit the nail on the head. Products based on green chemistry have to offer more than just improved sustainability. At the outset of the emergence of green chemicals, the focus was on 'drop-in' products that performed the same as incumbent products based on traditional chemistry. With the challenges this raised, as you point out in your questions, the focus has moved to innovation and performance as the more important focus, to ensure there is a 'bottom line for business'. See my response to Monica Beckman that reflects this. It needs more than improved sustainability. We have found that the key is to have a unique combination of performance, sustainability and economics, and this requires much more than chemistry; mainly marketing focus (to define where the highest intensity of need lies), and where the best 'fit' to the new green products exists, applications development, to formulate new products that offer not only technical performance but also differentiation/innovation, and promotion of all of this as a USP. It is possible to get corporate buy-in in novel ways...I cannot comment on labelling specifically. That could be better addressed by coalitions like Sustainable Packaging, Apparel etc. However, we have just seen the start of some large retailers, like IKEA, committing to new technology based on green chemistry up-front. This is a great move, and hopefully a sign of better things to come, meaning OEM's, brands and retailers buying into green chemistry to create market demand and adoption. This will really help accelerate the progress of green chemistry.

                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                              Eric Beckman

                                                              To me, it’s critically important that the system boundaries be set based on “desired customer outcomes” rather than “desired producer outcomes” – sometimes these are the same, but not always! For example, if one manufactures dyes and/or pigments, one might choose “a safer dye” as a green approach, but the customer doesn’t desire a dye of any sort, but rather simply color – dye is one type of solution, but not all types of solutions.

                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                              Laura Hoch

                                                              Great responses so far! I was wondering what are the primary barriers to adoption of green chemistry? Why do certain companies seem to  be more successful at incorporating green chemistry into their businesses than others? What are ways we can overcome some of these barriers?

                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                  Amy Perlmutter

                                                                  To develop the GC3's Agenda to Mainstream Green Chemistry, which recommends strategies to mainstream the field of green chemistry, we surveyed our members, did literature reviews, and conducted original interviews.  Through this, we identified a number of barriers, including: the high cost to scale up, the lack of economically feasible alternatives, the high cost to research alternatives, the low cost of existing options, lack of customer demand. incumbency of existing materials in the marketplace, confusion and fear of switching, transparency, and more. I can't speak to why some companies are able to be more successful than others in incorporating green chemistry, but I think some of the answers might relate to not having as much money invested in old technologies, being smaller and more nimble, having a committed CEO, or having products that might be less risky or expensive to substitute with green chemistry.

                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                    Martin Wolf

                                                                    Companies are highly varied in the raisons d'etre as well as their stage of growth. Companies that are incorporated with the intent of fulfilling a mission or commercializing a technology naturally hold that focus. Companies that have been relying on a technology for decades are reluctant to abandon that technology and convert to another, or they do so at a measured pace. An economic ecology requires a diversity of members to assure stability while accommodating change. Michael Porter speaks of the five forces in the marketplace, including innovation, competition, supply chain, barriers to entry, and demand. the green chemistry market is subject to the same forces, which can be used either to prvent change or to create it.

                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                      Babette Pettersen

                                                                      One of the primary barriers to adoption of green chemistry is the complexity of the  supply chains that these chemicals go into, along with the power of incumbency and installed capacity. Producers of green chemicals are generally at about 3 levels of the supply chain away from OEM's Brands and Retailers, and that much further from the consumers who have the need for more sustainable solutions. Marketing across the supply chain (Market 'Pull in addition to Market 'Push'') is required to ensure that the OEM's brands and retailers that are closest to the consumers are aware of what green chemistry can do, which comes from the beginning of the value chain. Green chemistry providers need to play an integrator role across the supply chain to make sure that supply meets demand at the opposite end of the value chain, and solutions are integrated across it. Another barrier is higher cost of products based on green chemistry because of the small scale at which they are made today. This will not change until commercial capacity is available more broadly, and economies of scale can be achieved. This will be driven as much by market demand as by technical success, if not more so, so as per the above, getting to the companies at the level of the value chain that serve the consumers and can create this demand is key.

                                                                       

                                                                      Certain companies are more successful at incorporating green chemistry because they have a strategic vision and clearly-stated objectives to improve the sustainability of their products and services and work to execute on these. In other words, sustainability/ green chemistry is an integral part of the company's business case for change, growth and profitability. In other cases, it is because there is a good fit between a solution based on green chemistry and the customer needs that the company serves.. A good example of this is the furanics technology from Avantium (PEF) to  replace PET which is being driven by Coca Cola, Danone and other beverage brands.

                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                      Joel Tickner

                                                                      Canada and some other countries have done a seemingly much better job of prioritizing green chemistry in government funding and innovation policy whereas green chemistry is simply a niche consideration at EPA.  What do we need to do to elevate green chemistry in public policy in the US as it has been in other places.  What lessons can we learn?

                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?

                                                                        What do you see as the most effective role of government agencies? (Especially in states where the environmental agency is not considered a leader or agent of change?)

                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                            Eric Beckman

                                                                            In the green building arena, government was a strong early customer, which very much helped drive this field forward; I don’t see why this wouldn’t work with green chemical products as well.

                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                              Amy Perlmutter

                                                                              I think this is not only an environmental, but an economic development issue, and one approach is to try to get those two silos talking to each other to support green chemistry. In MA, I worked on a project years ago where we were trying to get the state to take a broad look at clean technologies of all sorts- clean energy, green chemistry, materials reuse and recycling, green building- and create an umbrella approach that supported all of these technologies and created synergies among them.  It was a challenge- the environmental agency wasn't quite so interested in the economic development side, and the economic development side was interested, but said they wanted the environmental agency to take the lead. We didn't have success but I think the approach was a good one and could be tried elsewhere. Perhaps the change needs to come from the economic development agencies. A first step would be to bring together companies already in your state that are green chemistry companies and understand the economic and environmental benefits they bring, as well as what their challenges and needs are. Then set up a meeting with officials in the economic development and environmental offices to let them know and start raising their awareness. I think most state governments want to support economic development, so if they are aware of the size of the industry or the potential size and the jobs and revenue it would create, hopefully they could support it. But you'd definitely need to have a clear "ask"- do they need tax breaks, equipment loans, land, job training, etc.

                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                Martin Wolf

                                                                                This question begets the bigger question, what is the role of government? Government can fund basic research (e.g.,NSF), can establish programs to pursue research and development (i.e. NASA), maintain a level economic playing field (e.g. SEC or Dept. of Commerce), etc. Over the past two decades, the country has diminished these roles of government and transferred those roles increasingly to the private sector. A blend is probable appropriate, and the balance point will shift with shifting priorities, over time.

                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                  David Constable

                                                                                  Green chemistry's heritage was in the pollution prevention act, and it has always been seen as the ultimate form of source reduction for toxics/hazardous substances.  I would say that government agencies have a huge role to play in encouraging voluntary initiatives centered in pollution prevention and pointing to sustainable and green chemistry as the best way to achieve that.  To the extent that government agencies can train enforcement people to ask the right questions and encourage prevention as a means of environmental and economic benefit (with happier neighbors) I think sustainable and green chemistry would receive a great impetus.

                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                  Laura Reyes

                                                                                  Hi panelists!

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Thanks for putting this together.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  I have a multi-part question. In order to mainstream green chemistry, we need to have a well-informed public to get behind and support innovative technologies. What kind of strategies can we employ to make the public trust that the chemical industry, in its use of green chemistry, is making an effort to move towards a sustainable future? Would short-term advertising campaigns be better, or would long-term strategies like curriculum development be most effective? Are there any specific examples that you have seen that are particularly successful in getting the public/customers to support a green chemistry innovation?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Thank you!

                                                                                  Laura

                                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                      Eric Beckman

                                                                                      It’s not clear to me that larger, mainstream chemical companies have sufficient credibility with the public anymore to make a believable case for informing the public about the merits of green chemistry. However, there are companies whose “brand” represents a new way of thinking about chemically based products (Patagonia to Seventh Generation to Burt’s Bees to others); these companies would be the best representatives for a more sustainable future. If one is to put together a campaign, one has to edit the list of companies with great care!

                                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                        Amy Perlmutter

                                                                                        I think that it's not necessarily about advertising.  It's a complex issue. There's one of trust- brands like Seventh Generation are trusted to develop safe and sustainable products.  People recognize that they walk their talk; that is key in building trust. One tool could be eco-labels that certify a product as safer.  Apps such as Skin Deep (I'm not endorsing, just providing an example) can help consumers find safer products, letting the marketplace know that those are desired. I also think that companies developing greener solutions should keep open communication channels with environmental advocates about what they are doing and perhaps even the challenges they are facing so that the advocates can help explain the issues to their constituents, and so companies can understand what the issues are that consumers care about. 

                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                          Eric Beckman

                                                                                          Something else that would help greatly where public trust is concerned is in labelling – the labels of ingredients on chemical products (for example, personal care products) still use euphemisms for the actual chemicals, making it very difficult for customers to see what it is they’re buying (I can’t tell half the time). Note that over-the-counter pharmaceuticals make it easy to see if you’re getting the same active ingredient as the name brand drug.

                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: What will it take to Mainstream Green Chemistry?
                                                                                            David Constable

                                                                                            Thanks for your question Laura.  Years ago the chemical industry through the Chemical Manufacturer's Association (now the ACC) spent very large amounts of money advertising the general benefits of the chemical industry in an attempt to improve public perception of the industry.  Despite spending large sums of money, public perception, based on extensive surveys, never changed.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            Another example is the Pharma industry whose public trust is worse than the tobacco industry despite keeping many people in a higher quality of life, longer, through their innovations.

                                                                                             

                                                                                            Bottom line for me is what value is there in changing public perception?  I would say that the more beneficial place to spend money is to change those who are most responsible for making new chemicals and products - chemists, chemical engineers and allied professions so that they are able to make better decisions in the moment of innovation.