26th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference

Tag: organizational

Information Driving Greener Design: Enabling Sustainable Material Flows by Identifying & Addressing Information Needs

Organizers: Anna Montgomery, Executive Director, Northwest Chemistry; Lauren Heine, Director of Safer Materials & Data Integrity, ChemForward; Ray Garant, ACS

This session will cover frameworks, databases, certifications, and information hubs for safe, sustainable product design. Products based on sustainable materials support a circular economy, create life-friendly chemistry, restore natural capital, and support a just and inclusive society. This requires systems thinking to holistically address sustainability alignment between products and materials. Diverse information types are required to understand how well a product or material meets these criteria, but can be challenging to identify and use, especially for product designers.

What information needs are necessary in order to meet the demands for designing products for sustainable material flows? Who is meeting these needs, and what challenges are they facing in disseminating and organizing this information so that it is actionable? Sustainability must be considered during the design phase to avoid sunk cost fallacies leading to the continued development of regrettable products. Products in the midst of being designed rarely have robust datasets describing their life cycle impacts, hazards, and other sustainability characteristics. How do innovators, entrepreneurs, and product developers access sufficient information during the design phase to make informed decisions about the sustainability of their products? How do chemical manufacturers communicate the sustainability of their materials?

Many products are developed with sustainability claims, but further examination reveals trade-offs between sustainability benefits. For example, food packaging designed using agricultural waste and marketed as compostable may contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which do not break down in compost and are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. Our symposium will explore the tools and databases available to avoid these situations, both for product designers and for purchasers and others further up the supply chain.
Alternatives assessment has the potential to identify preferable chemicals and preferable products with a clear description of any sustainability trade-offs. However, it is challenging to gather sufficient data on new and emerging chemicals and products to equitably compare them to existing and established chemicals and products. As syntheses and processes are optimized for the status quo, new chemicals and products often fail to perform to the same level. Our symposium will explore modeling tools and alternatives assessment methodologies that enable accurate and actionable comparisons.

Achieving System-Wide Collaboration by Design

Organizers: Saskia van Bergen, Washington Department of Ecology; Robert Giraud, Principal Consultant, Chemours/University of Delaware; Amy Cannon, Executive Director, Beyond Benign; Laura M. Reyes, Paul Thornton

Large-scale collaborative projects have the potential to leverage multi-company/multi-institutional resources to address sustainability challenges. However, the potential of such collaborations remains largely unrealized as it is difficult to establish new relationships and appropriate models that allow different groups to work together effectively. Implementing system-wide changes across industries and in society will require prolonged cooperation between multiple partners and diverse stakeholders, but to date these large-scale collaborative efforts are rare. Even smaller-scale collaborations such as academics aiming to partner with external organizations or an industry to advance the applicability of their innovations face obstacles to building a mutually beneficial project. This session will focus on how large interdisciplinary and/or cross-sector collaborative projects in green chemistry can be conceived, organized, and brought to fruition with results that can have lasting system-wide impact.

There are several key questions we aim to address: First, what are the challenges to a great collaborative project with multiple stakeholders, and how can they be overcome? Secondly, what components of a project are essential to the success of a collaboration? Finally, what other types of collaborations are necessary to help solve multidimensional sustainability and green chemistry challenges?

Diving deeper into the diversity of collaborative efforts, we invite submissions from anyone who has had first-hand experience participating in a large collaboration, either across scientific disciplines (e.g., chemistry, engineering, toxicology), and/or across sectors (e.g., industry, academia, government). The session will benefit from a diversity of perspectives. Speakers may include coordinators or organizers of multi-stakeholder collaborative projects, as well as individual scientists or contributors to such collaborations. Designated projects or challenges that seek to address an industry need (“technology pull”) will be explored, as will those efforts where innovators actively search for specific market fits for their technologies (“technology push”). The session will provide examples and engage participants in the discussion of how better collaborations can be identified, fostered, and achieved. Sharing the perspectives and lessons from this symposium will help accelerate implementation of systemic changes in sustainability by jump-starting the collaborations  needed to advance the widespread practice of green chemistry and engineering across various systems.

Careers in Green Chemistry & Engineering

Organizers: Laura M. Reyes, PhD; Natalie O’Neil, PhD, Beyond Benign

This symposium is an informative session focused on the numerous, diverse and non-linear career paths available to students under the general umbrella of green chemistry and engineering. Simultaneously, this symposium aims to demonstrate the benefits that a background knowledge in green chemistry and engineering has in the eyes of an employer and the importance of marketing non-obvious skills to potential employers, e.g. expertise in systems thinking, safety, scale-up considerations, economics, collaborative approaches, science communication, etc. By assembling a series of career path examples from speakers, this symposium will directly address students’ ubiquitous question of what career options are available to them, and how they might go about pursuing them. Although students are the target audience for this symposium, all audiences would be welcome, this symposium could be similarly valuable to those further in their career paths who may find themselves unemployed or otherwise facing a change in employment. Anyone in established careers with a curiosity to learn about the career paths that their colleagues have pursued, or mentors to students seeking resources is also welcomed. To create an interactive environment, a panel discussion to address questions from the audience will follow the speaker presentations. This panel discussion will be open-ended to build on themes brought up in the career presentations.

Green Chemistry International System of Systems

Organizers: Paul Anastas, PhD, Yale University; Karolina Mellor, PhD, Yale University.

The global system of green chemistry is an international network of networks. The reason that understanding this complex sstem is important is because it is at the intersections and interfaces of these various networks that the greatest chance for transformative innovation takes place. In our language and descriptions, we often try to simplify this universe into easily fragmented sectors (e.g., industry, government, academia, and NGO’s), or even bifurcate the world e.g., domestic/international, industrialized world/emerging nations, global corporation/start-up, research/education. While these categorizations make things seem simpler, they lose the richness of the capacity of the network and the fullness of the potential for bringing about positive change in the green chemistry world. It is precisely by understanding where multi-dimensional partnerships can be built, established infrastructure can be leveraged, and cultural threads aligned, that green chemistry has its highest opportunities to have its most important impact.

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