On May 24-25, 2016, experts from the field of green (sustainable) chemistry gathered in Washington, DC, for a workshop on Sustainable Chemistry Technologies. The event was organized by the National Academy of Science’s Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology at the request of the United States General Accountability Office. Among the participants were Professor Robin Rogers, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals, and Professor Steve Maguire, Director of the Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management and Desautels Chair in Integrated Management.
McGill University was the only institution to have more than one presenter amongst some 20 recognized experts on different facets of green chemistry. Recognizing the importance of transdisciplinary collaboration and hearing from multiple perspectives, participants in the workshop were drawn from a range of fields in academia, as well as industry, civil society, and policy circles. Topics included: sustainable raw material technologies; sustainable catalyst technologies; sustainable solvent technologies; sustainable chemistry technologies in industry; economic and business aspects of sustainable chemistry; metrics for evaluating the sustainability of technologies; standards and regulations; stakeholder perspectives on the field; and the future of green chemistry. The discussions focused on both technical issues and “big picture” questions associated with the field.
Professor Maguire presented several business logics commonly invoked in support of green chemistry, outlining the various ways in which adopting sustainable chemical technologies can reduce or eliminate chemical risks to human health or the environment while having a positive impact on a firm’s bottom-line. Sustainable chemistry is increasingly being adopted by a wide range of firms across a broad spectrum of sectors, and multiple business logics can be invoked for a single technology.
Under the topic of “Sustainable Solvent Technologies”, Professor Rogers presented on ionic liquids. His presentation was followed by another Canadian representative, Dr. Philip Jessop, who presented on less toxic solvents. Jessop is a Professor at Queen’s University, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry, and a member of the NSERC CREATE in Green Chemistry program, anchored at McGill University.
The workshop presentations and discussions will be used to inform a new GAO study entitled “Assessment of Sustainable Chemistry Science and Technologies,” which was requested by US Senators Christopher Coons (DE), Susan Collins (ME), and Ed Markey (MA).
McGill is an important hub for the Interdisciplinary Network for Green Chemistry (IN4GC), which links scholars who share an interest in studying the broader business, economic, social, and political implications of green chemistry. The network's mission is to provide a forum for ongoing dialogue between social scientists and chemists who seek to catalyze, through innovative research and education, the implementation of green chemistry principles throughout the global chemical enterprise. By assembling a critical mass of social science and chemistry expertise, it facilitates multi-institution collaborations and provides a banner for launching novel interdisciplinary research and teaching initiatives.
Please visit here for more information on McGill’s Interdisciplinary Network for Green Chemistry (IN4GC).
Please visit here for more information on the NSERC CREATE in Green Chemistry program.