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A widely accepted explanation of Green Chemistry is one established by Paul Anastas and John Warner in 1998: The two constructed the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry. These crucial pillars are published in the American Chemical Society's literature and are also accepted by the US EPA.
The 12 Principles examine the full lifecycle of a chemical, from production—to the chemical itself—to handling accidents—to chemical waste management. For instance, an ideal green chemical doesn’t mean it is “green” solely in its final form, but that it doesn’t need toxic chemicals to create it. It additionally means that the chemical is capable of degrading into non-toxic substances when it's out of use.
The 12 Principles emphasize many other valid notions, but the overall nature of this list is to recognize and understand the complete impact of a chemical — giving way to certain methods to conduct analysis of a chemical's entire lifecycle.
Green Chemistry requires a full oversee and complete approach from production to conclusion of utilization — also known as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Sometimes, these studies can result in shock from some individuals or groups as they propose clashing traditional beliefs. However, one study suggests opposing notions in terms of environmental and human toxicity indicators.
In reality, the life cycle factors of Green Chemistry can be intricate considering the many influencing aspects involved. But recognizing the conflicts under such a foundation and establishing more clarity for society are necessary towards finding solutions.
Ultimately, this concept is about formulating better materials and production processes, while limiting toxic waste throughout its whole life cycle — and this is exactly why we are putting in such effort as environmental stewards to advocate for Green Chemistry.