21st Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference | June 13-15, 2017 | Reston, Virginia

Products as Solutions to Real-World Sustainability Challenges: Incentives and Barriers

Symposium Organizers: Anthony M. Noce, ACSF, Principal Consultant, Operations Risk & Compliance, Haley & Aldrich, Inc.; Lauren Heine, Ph.D., Executive Director, Northwest Green Chemistry; Amelia Nestler, Ph.D., Consulting Project Manager, Northwest Green Chemistry; Ray Garant , Director of Public Policy, American Chemical Society

Many chemists are inspired to use their skills to address real world challenges to human health and sustainability. To work on basic and/or applied research challenges that are linked to such challenges is very different from bringing products to the marketplace that actually become sufficiently successful to provide the desired benefits. The benefits may be novel or they may be designed to replace other products because of their impacts on natural resources, due to the generation or use of toxic substances, or because they generate poorly managed waste in a linear “take, make, waste” system of industrial production. In this session, we explore both the drivers and barriers for new green chemistry and engineering technology development, as well as strategies to enhance the drivers while overcoming the barriers. Drivers are diverse and may or may not be in alignment. Examples include environmentally preferable procurement, regulation, research support, scale up support, voluntary supply chain initiatives, technical standards and/or ecolabels, awards and prizes, preferential government purchasing, and so much more. In contrast, there are many obstacles, including lack of funding, lack of access to entrepreneurial or business expertise, limited market awareness, entrenched products with dominant market share, procurement experts with limited understanding of alternative technologies, standards that prefer older technologies driving incremental improvements rather than real innovation, regulatory requirements, lack of access to scale up resources, cultural inertia, and more.