This past Monday, Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr visited the Warner Babcock Institute in Wilmington, MA which is just down the road from our Gloucester headquarters, to meet with his good friend John Warner.
John Warner is one of the founders of green chemistry and is a leader in the field. One of the many subject areas he specializes in is developing less toxic alternatives for a variety of consumer products. John was recently awarded the Perkins Medal, which is considered by many to be the most prestigious award in the field of chemistry.
As we look to understand and curb the flow of environmental toxicants made by humans in to the world’s oceans, the type of work John is doing is essential. The problems our oceans face from pollution are twofold: we need to understand the effects of man-made environmental toxicants on wildlife, and we also need to develop nontoxic alternatives. John is certainly a pioneer in this field.
John and his team developed the 12 principles for Green Chemistry – which are now considered an industry standard.
The 12 Principals of Green Chemistry
1) POLLUTION PREVENTION
It is better to prevent waste than to treat and clean up waste after it is formed.
2) ATOM ECONOMY
Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.
3) LESS HAZARDOUS SYNTHESIS
Whenever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.
4) DESIGN SAFER CHEMICALS
Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficacy of the function while reducing toxicity
5) SAFER SOLVENTS AND AUXILIARIES
The use of auxiliary substances (solvents, separations agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary whenever possible and, when used, innocuous.
6) DESIGN FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Energy requirements should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. Synthetic methods should be conducted to ambient temperature and pressure.
7) USE OF RENEWABLE FEEDSTOCKS
A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practical.
8) REDUCE DERIVATIVES
Unnecessary derivatization (blocking group, protection/deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be avoided whenever possible.
Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.
10) DESIGN FOR DEGRADATION
Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they do not persist in the environment and instead breakdown into innocuous degradation products.
11) REAL-TIME ANALYSIS FOR POLLUTION PREVENTION
Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.
12) INHERENTLY SAFER CHEMISTRY FOR ACCIDENT PREVENTION
Substance and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen so as to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions and fires.
It was a positive, inspiring visit and we hope to be back soon!