Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
New Green Chemistry Commitment Promises to Change the Chemical Industry and Chemistry Education

Twelve colleges and universities have joined Dow Chemical and other chemical industry leaders in signing the Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC). This is the first nationally organized effort to link higher education and the chemical industry to effect education reform in the U.S.

The non-profit Beyond Benign, founded by Dr. John Warner, launched this consortium with the goal of teaching chemistry for a sustainable future. In order to achieve this, Beyond Benign fosters innovative, efficient and environmentally sound chemical products and processes, while preparing world-class chemists with the skills necessary to do so.

Upon signing the GCC, colleges and universities agree that all graduating chemistry majors will have proficiency in all green chemistry competencies (theory, toxicology, lab skills and practical application). An advisory board headed by Beyond Benign representatives and leaders in chemistry department faculty from across the nation oversees the GCC and encourages connections between the academic world and the chemical industry.

Green chemistry as a field encourages chemists and scientists to develop and use non-toxic and renewable chemistry materials. Academics and professionals alike have been embracing this burgeoning field because there is a feeling of responsibility to shape the future. The GCC represents a concrete way to achieve this goal while providing opportunities for innovation and new technology.

Fortunately for the industry, green chemistry is not a pipe dream but an economically vital sector for growth. A 2011 report from Pike Research projects the worldwide green chemistry industry will become a $100 billion behemoth by 2020, a truly dramatic increase from just under $3 billion in 2011. This increase includes a $20 billion growth in the U.S. alone and has the potential to save the chemical industry $65.5 billion by 2020. All ethical and environmental motives aside, these numbers are perhaps the most compelling reasons to support the green chemistry industry.

“The goal of green chemistry is for the term to disappear and it simply becomes how we practice chemistry,” Warner comments. “One day, we’ll be able to clean up a tanker’s chemical spill with water and a broom. It might take decades to get there, but that is what green chemistry will achieve.”

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