#159: Green Chemistry: Molecular Redesigning of Chemical Products

“If you’re exposed enough to something that’s not natural to your body; It’s likely going to cause harm through interaction with molecules in your body.”

 Chemistry is everywhere! From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, chemistry is all around us. We even breathe it.

Chemistry has done great things for our society. It has made our products more effective, and our economies more prosperous. But often at a cost for our environment and health. As chemistry continues to further the quality of our lives it can also make our world more sustainable.

Today on Sustainable, I talk to Dr. Joel Tickner about chemistry and its potential to help create a sustainable world.

Joel is the Executive Director of the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3), whose vision is a world where green chemistry is standard practice throughout the value chain. The GC3 works toward that vision by catalysing and guiding action across all industries, sectors and supply chains.

In this episode, Joel introduces green chemistry and how it can put less strain on the environment and natural resources as well as benefiting human health.

We discuss how common chemicals used today were a breakthrough when invented but have environmental and health impact that are unacceptable. We also talk about the importance of implementing green chemistry to make the future design and production process sustainable and in alignment with the natural world.

In this episode, Joel and I talk about:
        • What green chemistry is and how it will benefit us and our environment
        • Building and impacting chemical design to achieve sustainability
        • Teaching the next generation of chemists and chemical engineers to take social and environmental impact into account in their design
        • Why training working chemists and chemical engineers to re-think that molecular design is very important for the future
        • Effectively enhancing the natural state of molecules for our benefit
        • Learning from how nature adapts to minimize the negative impact of toxic molecules
        • The chemical alternatives that allow us to meet our goals but have low impact on our health and the environment
        • Scaling innovative products and collaborative innovation
        • Sustainable consumption and the demand for safer chemicals
        • Importance of leadership within the government regarding green chemistry projects
        • Educating investors about opportunities regarding the chemical industry and profit returns
        • Incorporating chemical risk management into projects

        “We need to start thinking differently. Now we that we understand the problems much better, we need to really focus on the solution and put the resources into that.” – Joel Tickner

          More about Joel Tickner

          Joel is a leading expert on the application of green chemistry and alternatives assessment in science and policy. He has served on a number of EPA and Natural Academy of Sciences advisory committees and advises government agencies around the world.  Joel is also a Professor of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and is also the Executive Director of the Association for the Advancement of Alternatives Assessment (A4) and the Co-Director of the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI).

          More about GC3:

          GC3 members are champions and innovators in the fields of green chemistry and the production of safer chemicals, materials and products. Approximately 75% of GC3 members are individual companies and 25% are representatives from non-governmental organizations, local, state and federal government agencies, and consulting firms.

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