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Greening Chemistry

'Green chemistry' signed into law

In the closing days of the last session, the Michigan legislature passed landmark "green chemistry" legislation, a long-standing policy priority of the Ecology Center. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Dec. 14.

"We have been making the case for several years now that 'green chemistry' should be a major component of building a sustainable economy, and we're delighted that Michigan is continuing to position itself as a leader in this new industry," according to Tracey Easthope, the Ecology Center's environmental health director...

Click here for information about the legislation, and about "green chemistry" >>



Ecology Center, Six Others Honored with Michigan's First Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards

Green Chemistry AwardsFrom left to right: Steve Chester, Director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Tracey Easthope, Environmental Health Director, Ecology Center; Mike Garfield, Director, Ecology Center; Mike Shriberg, Policy Director, Ecology Center.
Photo credit: Joe Boomgaard

The Ecology Center, two businesses, two scientists, one university, and a student were presented with Michigan’s first Green Chemistry Gubernatorial Awards at a ceremony in Detroit on September 29, 2009.

“It is a great honor to be singled out for this acknowledgement,” said Tracey Easthope, the Ecology Center’s Environmental Health Director, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization. “We have been making the case for several years now that Green Chemistry should be a major component of building a sustainable economy, and we’re delighted that Michigan is now positioning itself to be a leader in this new industry.”

The awards were established as part of Governor Granholm’s 2006 Executive Directive promoting “Green Chemistry for Sustainable Economic Development and Protection of Public Health,” which established state policy encouraging the use of safer, less toxic, or non-toxic chemical alternatives to hazardous substances and the research, development, and implementation of green chemistry in Michigan.

The Ecology Center was acknowledged in the Public category for its work advocating for Green Chemistry policy in Michigan. Since 2006, the Ecology Center has sought to advance the practice and teaching of Green Chemistry in Michigan by advocating for policy change, educating and mobilizing citizens, participating in multi-stakeholder initiatives, and building a base of support for Green Chemistry activities among environmental, health professional and health-effected organizations, elected representatives, government agencies, business leaders, educators, private foundations, public institutions and others.

In presenting the awards, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven Chester noted Green Chemistry may not receive the news attention lavished on the current conflict over the state budget, but that the impact of the award recipients’ work will be much greater and longer-lasting.

Other winners of the 2009 awards were:

PPG Industries — for the development of a cleaner paint detackifier made using old shrimp shells used in auto paint shops

Dow AgroSciences — for the development of a less toxic version of Spinetoram, the active ingredient in a series of insecticides used in fruit and vegetable production

Dr. Yinlun Huang, Wayne State University — for developing a near-zero discharge technology for electroplating process facilities

Dr. Phillip Savage, University of Michigan — for developing a cleaner way to produce terephthalic plastic resins

Grand Valley State University — for integrating Green Chemistry into the university curriculum

Nathan Craft — for student research at Grand Valley State University

For more information, contact Tracey Easthope at 734-761-3186 ext. 109.

Why is Green Chemistry so Important?

Green Chemistry is an innovative scientific movement aimed at replacing toxic chemicals with safe materials. It provides an overarching set of principles for chemists and others to develop products, processes and services that curb pollution, waste, and energy consumption.

Although Green Chemistry has been around for over a decade, as fuel prices rise, it is generating more interest from industries in search of sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products and work processes that use a lot of energy.

Green Chemistry was officially launched in 1998, when the Green Chemistry Institute of the American Chemical Society published the “Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry.” These principles outline methods for designing energy-efficient processes for creating non-polluting products.

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have exact data, it estimates that industries that participated in the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge have saved millions of dollars in resources, waste and cleanup expenses. These companies have also eliminated what is estimated to be billions of pounds of toxic waste and saved billions of gallons of water each year, while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gases.

Although Green Chemistry is now widely heralded as essential both for public health and business competitiveness, academic institutions and businesses still have not widely adopted these practices.

For more information on Green Chemistry:

Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health

MNCEH is a collaboration of individuals and organizations, including the Ecology Center, which works together on commonly identified policy priorities to protect children’s health in Michigan. The information above is from the MNCEH website.
An overview of Green Chemistry with examples

Lowell Center for Sustainable Production

Chemicals Policy Initiative on Green Chemistry has a good web site on the growing international movement for Green Chemistry.

Green Chemistry Institute

The Green Chemistry Institute is a project of the American Chemical Society.

Advancing Green Chemistry

This organization strives to contribute to the promoion the development and adoption of Green Chemistry. Check it out

The EPA's Green Chemistry site

This EPA site provides basic information about Green Chemistry.

Proposed federal Green Chemistry legislation

H.R. 1215 has been passed by the House of Representatives and has been introduced by the Senate as S. 1270. Both bills propose to implement a Green Chemistry Research and Development program.

Green Chemistry and Consumer Network

Check out this website for some excellent resources and newsletters on how Green Chemistry is being used in the manufacture of safer products.

California Green Chemistry Report

California should take the lead in establishing a comprehensive policy for chemical production and use or face a growing set of health and environmental problems and risk being left behind by the global economy, according to a new paper. The paper was commissioned by the Cal. Senate Environmental Quality Committee and the Cal. Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. The focus of that report is on the need for Green Chemistry to ensure California’s continued economic competitiveness. An announcement about the report is available here.