What is green chemistry?
According to the South African Chemical Institute, green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, and use. It is also known as sustainable chemistry. Thus, instead of limiting risk by controlling our exposure to hazardous chemicals, green chemistry attempts to reduce and preferentially eliminate the hazard thus negating the necessity to control exposure.
Green chemistry became a formal focus of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA USA) in 1991 already. It has since become a focus of many research, public and private sector organisations and is an obvious addition to the sustainable development foci of the NCPC-SA.
Green chemistry applies to and impacts many fields – from pharmaceuticals to household items. Some of the advantages of green chemistry include the reduction of pollution at the source by minimising or eliminating the dangers of chemical feedstock, reagents, solvents and products. It also encourages the invention and innovation of new and harmless solvents, surface active agents, materials, processes and products. Green chemistry includes energy conservation, waste reduction, and life-cycle considerations that design for end of life of the product.