Real-World Sustainability Challenges: Incentives and Barriers to the Use of Green Chemistry in Products
Session Organizers: Anthony Noce, Vice President, EHS Management Systems, Tetra Tech; Lauren Heine, Ph.D., Executive Director, Northwest Green Chemistry
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 will explore both the drivers and barriers for new green chemistry and engineering technology development in products, 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.