While chemistry is one of the most significant sciences, its branches make it even more diverse and critical. Green chemistry is a branch of chemistry that mainly focuses on designing chemicals and materials that either reduce or eliminate the use and generation of chemical wastes. Therefore, green chemistry is pretty much essential to managing levels of environmental pollution as well as solving global environmental problems. To highlight its role, green chemistry is based on 12 principles. While all these principles are crucial, below are ten of them that make green chemistry so important.
#1. Green Chemistry Is Key to Waste Prevention
While cleaning up waste or simply treating it with chemicals is also an option, preventing waste in the first place is the most optimal choice. Waste reduction is a practice that is also commonly referred to as source reduction or waste minimization. And waste prevention has nothing to do with recycling or biodegradability. Rather, green chemistry develops ways to reduce the amount or the toxicity of wastes that are generated on a daily basis. So, the main goal here is to cut down the production of waste instead of discarding or recycling the materials.
#2. Green Chemistry Reduces and Prevents Environmental Pollution
By eliminating as much chemical waste as possible, green chemistry manages to reduce or even prevent environmental pollution. Besides, green chemistry also aims to reduce pollution at the molecular level through atom economy, which refers to maximizing the use of starting materials to form final products. The key here is to use basic building blocks to avoid discarding most of the larger starting materials as waste.
#3. Green Chemistry Allows Scientists to Reduce Derivatives
The process of reducing derivatives in chemistry is also known as derivatization, which can be defined as the protection or temporary modification of physical and chemical processes by means of blocking groups. As reducing derivatives requires the use of additional reagents, green chemistry provides ways to reduce or avoid them in the first place. In this way, green chemistry minimizes waste production and reduces environmental pollution caused by the use of additional chemical reagents.
#4. Green Chemistry Promotes the Synthesis of Safer Chemicals
Synthesizing less hazardous or safer chemicals is yet another principle of green chemistry. Ideally, synthetic methods should be developed in a way that they produce chemicals that are less or non-toxic to living beings and the environment in general. Along with yielding minimally hazardous substances, green chemistry aims to design synthetic pathways and reactions that are safe as well. Again, synthesizing safer chemicals contributes to the reduction of environmental pollution.
#5. Green Chemistry Makes the Conversion of Chemicals More Efficient
While designing safe chemicals is essential, developing conversion ways to generate products more efficiently is just as crucial. Oftentimes, this is done by reducing the number of steps required to finish the synthesis of a given chemical. While such processes make synthesizing substances more straightforward and rapid, efficient conversion of chemicals also minimizes the production of by-products and waste during multi-step chemical reactions.
#6. Green Chemistry Minimizes Energy Requirements
Energy requirements of different chemical processes have a significant impact on the environment. Besides, economic factors should also be considered when it comes to using energy. Therefore, minimizing energy requirements and maximizing energy efficiency is crucial. Green chemistry aims to develop synthetic methods that allow chemists to conduct experiments and reactions at ambient temperature and pressure. As chemical manufacturing is an energy-intensive industry, it is crucial to reduce energy requirements whenever possible. This will not only save people money on fuel bills but also minimize environmental contamination.
#7. Green Chemistry Promotes the Production of Renewable Feedstocks
While non-renewable carbon sources are widely used across the globe, the development of renewable feedstocks is absolutely crucial. Green chemistry aims to eliminate the use of non-renewable resources by offering more renewable feedstocks through the process called de-fossilization. A great example of a renewable feedstock is any material that has been derived from living organisms (commonly plants), known as biomass. Evidently, green chemistry helps combat environmental pollution by making renewable feedstocks more accessible.
#8. Green Chemistry Is Essential to Designing Degradable Chemicals and Materials
Apparently, the manufacture of various materials leads to the production of tons of industrial waste. This significantly affects our environment and is one of the major factors that contribute to climate change. In order to reduce environmental pollution, green chemistry develops ways to design and produce biodegradable materials, usually biodegradable plastics. Along with being biodegradable, the production of such plastics requires less energy compared to the manufacture of petroleum-based plastics, which also promotes energy efficiency.
#9. Green Chemistry Is Important in Designing Selective Catalytic Reagents
Catalytic reagents are pretty much essential for performing various chemical reactions and experiments. And designing selective ones is even more crucial. This is because selectivity in catalysts ensures that the catalytic processes are both cheaper and safer for the environment. By designing selective catalytic reagents, green chemists aim not to waste reactants and minimize the generation of by-products.
#10. Green Chemistry Applies Different Scientific Areas to Solve Real-World Environmental Problems
While green chemistry is essential for transforming our planet into a much greener environment, it is also absolutely crucial for solving real-world environmental problems. To reduce pollution and protect the environment, green chemists apply concepts of many different disciplines and provide solutions to complex problems people face globally.