Chemicals, materials and the products they constitute are used in ever more applications i.e. variety and volume. They are an important building block for our standard of living and improve the quality of life remarkably. Nowadays more than 100 000 – 140 000 chemical compounds are marketed in increasingly more products. A fourfold increase in the used volumes is expected at least until 2050 (OECD 2012) because of the economic growth and increasing population. Many (new) chemicals and processes will be indispensible to meet many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Green chemistry (GC) is an important building bloc for that. It focuses on the synthesis and properties of molecules by aiming to use less energy, creating less waste and using renewable resources in synthesis and designing less toxic chemicals. However, it has been learned that there are limitations of this concept. E.g. using renewable resources is not sustainable per se as they need resources too. GC neither takes into account non-renewable resources such as metals, nor competitive usage and demands of resources and energy. Total substance and material flows linked to the products are not addressed. These issues are addressed by sustainable chemistry (SC) as well as are possible entropy transfer, rebound effects, and limitations of recycling and circular economy to mention a few. For a truly sustainable and long-term successful contribution of chemistry as a science as well as an industrial sector the framework of SC that includes green chemistry as an important building bloc is needed therefore. The concepts of GC and SC will be discussed in a broader context and examples will be given.
Haiß, A., Jordan, A., Westphal, J., Logunova, E., Gathergood, N. Kümmerer, K. (2016), On the way to greener ionic liquids: identification of a fully mineralizable phenylalanine-based ionic liquid. Green Chem. 18, 4361–4373.
Kümmerer, K., Dionysiou, D., Olsson O., Fatta-Kassinos, D. (2018), A path to clean water. Science 361, 222-224.
Kümmerer K. (2017), Sustainable Chemistry: A Future Guiding Principle. Angew. Chem. Internat. Ed. 56, 16420 – 16421.
Kümmerer, K. (2019), From a problem to a business opportunity-design of pharmaceuticals for environmental biodegradability. Sustainable Chem. Pharm. 12 (2019), doi.org/10.1016/j.scp.2019.100136.
Weiser, A., Lang, D.J., Kümmerer, K. (2017), Putting sustainable chemistry and resource use into context: The role of temporal diversity. Sustainable Chem. Pharm. 5, 105–114.
Weiser, A., Lutz, L.M., Lang, D.J., Kümmerer, K. (2017) Acknowledging temporal diversity in sustainability transformations atthe nexus of interconnected systems. J. Cleaner Prod. 162, 273-285.
About Klaus Kümmerer
Klaus Kuemmerer is Director of the Institute of Sustainable and Environmental Chemistry and holds the chair of of Sustainable Chemistry and Material Resources at the public Leuphana University and Director Research and Education of the International Sustainable Chemistry Collaborative Centre (ISC3) in Bonn.
His research and teaching is focused on Sustainable Chemistry, Sustainable Pharmacy, Material Resources, Aquatic Environmental Chemistry, and Time in Environmental and Sustainability Research. He received national and international awards for his interdisciplinary work. Klaus Kümmerer serves and served in national (e.g. DFG Senate Commission for Water Research, Board of the Division of Sustainable Chemistry of GDCh) and international committees including Global Chemical Outlook by UNEP and the EU Technology Platform SusChem Europe. He is also organizer of the annual interdisciplinary Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference. He is founding editor and editor-in-chief of Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy, and Current Opinion in Sustainable Chemistry journals as well as associate editor of Chemosphere and Environmental Pollution. He edited more than 10 scientific books on aquatic pollution, water reuse, use of metals and others.