Green chemistry is the design, development, and implementation of chemical products and processes to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of substances hazardous to human health and the environment.
Green Chemistry gained its current standing as a scientific discipline as well as practical means to pollution prevention as the result of collaboration between the US government, Industry, and Academia. In the early 1990's, Paul Anastas, who was then the chief of the Industrial Chemistry Branch at the US EPA, moved forward the concept of Green Chemistry
Paul Anastas and John Warner developed the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry: a framework to help us think about how to prevent pollution when inventing new chemicals and materials. Paul Anastas and John Warner's work as founders of a new field called Green Chemistry, based on the productive collaboration of government and industry, was just beginning.
A white paper entitled "Chemistry for a Clean World," published by the European Community's Chemistry Council in June, attracted a great deal of attention in Europe.
President Bill Clinton established the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards to recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of sustainable chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use.
The first Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards winners were announced. The awards increased awareness of Green Chemistry in industry and government by annually acknowledging individuals, groups, and organizations in academia, industry, and the government for their innovations in cleaner, cheaper, smarter chemistry. This remains the only award given by the President of the United States specifically for work in chemistry.
After more than a year of planning by individuals from industry, government, and academia, the Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) was incorporated in 1997 as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation — devoted to promoting and advancing green chemistry..
John Warner and Paul Anastas published the seminal book Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, which gave a precise definition to Green Chemistry and enumerated the Twelve Principles fundamental to the science. The definition and principles have become the generally accepted guidelines for Green Chemistry. Since it was first published, the book has been re-printed in several languages.
Great Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry publishes an international scientific journal entitled Green Chemistry bimonthly; the first issue was published in February 1999. The majority of the synthesis and process journals focus on papers related to this topic.
GCI joined the American Chemical Society (ACS) in an increased effort to address global issues at the intersection of chemistry and the environment.
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, formed a special subcommittee on Green Chemistry and launched a bi-annual international conference. The first was held in Germany, the second in Russia, and the 2010 conference was slated for Canada.
John Warner returned to industry to develop green technologies, partnering with Jim Babcock to found the first company completely dedicated to developing green chemistry technologies, the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry. The Institute was created with the mission to develop nontoxic, environmentally benign, and sustainable technological solutions for society.
Simultaneously, John Warner founded a non-profit foundation, Beyond Benign, to promote K-12 science education and community outreach.
In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Paul Anastas to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Research and Development. The nomination is a decisive achievement for the adoption and advancement of the principles of Green Chemistry.
The United States is just one of many countries that have green chemistry programs, centers, and educational initiatives. Others include Australia, China, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom, to mention but a few.