Chemistry that respects the environment

Back to the special report Green chemistry

For half a century, the chemical industry has been essential to our daily lives. The cosmetic, detergent and pharmaceutical products that we use every day have a direct link with the chemical industry.

From sustainable development to green chemistry

With awareness of humans’ environmental impact and ‘sustainable development’ principles growing since the 1980s, the idea of ‘green chemistry’ has emerged.

The green chemistry concept was officially established in 1998 by two American chemists, Paul Anastas and John C. Warner. It is based on 12 principles that define the framework of environmentally responsible chemistry.

Green chemistry and plant chemistry

These principles set a number of rules to be followed when creating or improving chemical processes. This means manufacturing molecules by combining standard economic criteria with new ecological criteria. The improvements include waste reduction, a decrease in or elimination of dangerous substances at the beginning of the process, the use of renewable raw ingredients and greater energy efficiency in products.

Plant chemistry, which uses raw ingredients from plants, can further support green chemistry’s development.

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