Foundation: Background to green chemistry

Drivers for change

This material taken from J. H. Clark, Green and Sustainable Chemistry: An Introduction, in Green and Sustainable Medicinal Chemistry: Methods, Tools and Strategies for the 21st Century Pharmaceutical Industry, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016, ch. 1, pp. 1-11.. It is copyright to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and is reproduced here with their express permission. If you wish to reproduce it elsewhere you must obtain similar permission from the RSC.

The chemical and allied industries now face as tough a challenge as they have ever faced. The 20th century saw enormous growth in chemicals manufacturing but this growth has come at a cost. Inefficient processes leading to unacceptable levels of pollution, hazardous operations resulting in a number of disasters, and a lack of knowledge of the human and environmental toxicity of most chemicals in widespread use, all leading to an exponential growth in chemicals legislation. The industry now needs to achieve environmental and social acceptability as well as economically viable manufacturing in the toughest ever legislative framework.