Benefits of Green Chemistry

Human health:

  • Cleaner air: Less release of hazardous chemicals to air leading to less damage to lungs
  • Cleaner water: less release of hazardous chemical wastes to water leading to cleaner drinking and recreational water
  • Increased safety for workers in the chemical industry; less use of toxic materials; less personal protective equipment required; less potential for accidents (e.g., fires or explosions)
  • Safer consumer products of all types: new, safer products will become available for purchase; some products (e.g., drugs) will be made with less waste; some products (i.e., pesticides, cleaning products) will be replacements for less safe products
  • Safer food: elimination of persistent toxic chemicals that can enter the food chain; safer pesticides that are toxic only to specific pests and degrade rapidly after use
  • Less exposure to such toxic chemicals as endocrine disruptors

Environment:

  • Many chemicals end up in the environment by intentional release during use (e.g., pesticides), by unintended releases (including emissions during manufacturing), or by disposal. Green chemicals either degrade to innocuous products or are recovered for further use
  • Plants and animals suffer less harm from toxic chemicals in the environment
  • Lower potential for global warming, ozone depletion, and smog formation
  • Less chemical disruption of ecosystems
  • Less use of landfills, especially hazardous waste landfills

Economy and business:

  • Higher yields for chemical reactions, consuming smaller amounts of feedstock to obtain the same amount of product
  • Fewer synthetic steps, often allowing faster manufacturing of products, increasing plant capacity, and saving energy and water
  • Reduced waste, eliminating costly remediation, hazardous waste disposal, and end-of-the-pipe treatments
  • Allow replacement of a purchased feedstock by a waste product
  • Better performance so that less product is needed to achieve the same function
  • Reduced use of petroleum products, slowing their depletion and avoiding their hazards and price fluctuations
  • Reduced manufacturing plant size or footprint through increased throughput
  • Increased consumer sales by earning and displaying a safer-product label (e.g., DfE labeling)
  • Improved competitiveness of chemical manufacturers and their customers