The creation of new chemicals and materials has resulted in environmental pollution, health issues, and other effects. In an editorial, Klaus Kümmerer, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, explains how the success of the chemical industry has also resulted in the limited availability of resources.
Green chemistry is one important approach to solving these problems, but a truly sustainable approach is really required to bring about a revolution. For example, creating new composite materials may bring certain benefits, but a complex preparation requires more energy and it may be impossible to recycle these materials. Furthermore, it should be ensured that losses such as waste plastic or metals should be reduced.
Sustainable chemistry involves identifying a function or service and extends along entire lifecycles of chemical products and beyond the supply chain, including disassembly or recycling at the end of the product’s life. Longevity and durability are key in some cases, but are undesirable in others, for example, plastics in the oceans. The knowledge and creativity of chemists are ideal for achieving this goal.
- Sustainable Chemistry: A Future Guiding Principle,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017.