Facilities that produce chemicals or any chemical manufacturing firm release harmful chemicals or substances during manufacturing. Due to the toxic substances they release, they contribute significantly to environmental pollution. Therefore, the chemical production process should be designed to prevent the generation of harmful substances. This approach is known as green chemistry.


Chemical manufacturing firms and other industries often release toxic substances harmful to human health and the environment. According to a report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), facilities in chemical manufacturing, paper manufacturing, and electric utilities accounted for the largest air releases of TRI chemicals in 2022. Chemical manufacturing firms predominantly released ammonia and ethylene, contributing to 29% of the total air releases. Other industries primarily released sulfuric acid and methanol. All these chemicals are toxic and pose significant environmental and human health risks.


The manufacturing process can be made free of toxic chemicals if each facility knows the right methods. Therefore, understanding green chemistry is essential as it helps facilitate harmless production processes.


Continue reading the blog to gain a thorough understanding of green chemistry along with its 12 principles.


What is Green Chemistry?


Green chemistry focuses on designing chemical products and processes that minimize or eliminate the use and creation of hazardous substances. It includes the entire life cycle of a chemical product. This means it starts with the initial design and manufacturing and continues through its usage and final disposal.


Green chemistry is useful for the following reasons:


  • Prevents Pollution:

 Green chemistry focuses on designing chemical processes that minimize the creation of pollutants right from the beginning. After all, it helps prevent pollution from the molecular level. 


  • Uses Scientific Method: 

By employing cutting-edge scientific techniques, green chemistry provides practical solutions to combat pollutants.


  • Applies to all Branches of Chemistry: 

This approach spans all fields of chemistry and integrates sustainable practices across various disciplines to foster a more holistic environmental impact.


  • Reduces Harmful Effects of Chemicals: 

Green chemistry seeks to refine existing chemical practices. It mitigates risks and enhances safety through improved methodologies and materials.


Did you Know?


The EPA and the American Chemical Society co-sponsor the Green Chemistry Challenge Award. It’s awarded for innovative green chemistry technologies. In May, they agreed to continue this partnership through 2029. The winners of 2023 were awarded for introducing the following:


  • Decarbonizing the Physical World
  • Chemical Adsorption Innovation Reduces Emissions
  • Upcycling/Valorizing a Plentiful Agricultural Waste


12 Green Chemistry Principles:


Paul T. Anastas, an organic chemist at the EPA, and John C. Warner developed the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry in 1991. Their goal was to change how chemicals are designed, made, and used to support environmental sustainability and human health. These principles focus on preventing pollution, reducing waste, and minimizing hazardous substances. By promoting safer and more efficient chemical processes and products, green chemistry aims to lower the environmental impact of chemical manufacturing.


Below we have explained the 12 green chemistry principles in detail. Take a look to learn in detail. 


  •  Prevent Waste: 


Designing chemical processes to minimize waste is essential. It reduces the need for waste treatment and disposal and also makes every manufacturing process more efficient and environmentally friendly. In simple terms, it aims to produce no waste that needs to be treated or cleaned up. 


A useful metric, known as the environmental factor (E factor), helps measure the waste produced by a process. It is calculated by dividing the mass of waste generated by the mass of the product obtained. The goal is always to achieve a lower E factor. 



  • Designing Less Hazardous Chemicals:

According to this, creating chemical products that are effective and safe for human health and the environment is always helpful. This principle promotes using non-toxic substances whenever possible. It also encourages facilities to avoid producing hazardous waste, making disposal simpler and reducing environmental impact.


  • Design Safer Chemicals: 


This principle is similar to the previous one. Chemical manufacturers should create products that work effectively without being excessively toxic to humans. Designing safer chemicals involves understanding how they interact with our bodies and the environment. While some level of toxicity may be unavoidable, alternatives should always be explored.


  • Maximize Atom Economy: 


This principle highlights the importance of using the maximum amount of starting materials in the final product. Atom economy measures how many atoms from the starting materials end up in the useful product. Reactions that produce useless side products lower atom economy. It can create more waste. Moreover, any type of manufacturing process with a high atom economy is preferred.


  • Safer Solvents and Reaction Conditions: 


This principle emphasizes selecting safer solvents to reduce risks to human health and the environment. Water and supercritical CO2 are examples of safer solvents. Many chemical reactions need solvents or agents to facilitate the process, but these can pose hazards. Therefore, facilities should carefully choose minimally harmful solvents. Moreover, it can be recycled(if possible). 


  • Design Energy-Efficient Processes: 


In green chemistry, energy-intensive manufacturing processes are discouraged. According to it, facilities should develop chemical processes that require less energy. This can involve using milder reaction conditions, such as lower temperatures and pressures. It’s also possible if reactions are carried out at normal room temperature and pressure. Removal of solvents, or processes to remove impurities, can increase the energy required. An energy-efficient process also helps reduce costs and environmental impact. 


  • Use Renewable Feedstocks: 


Any firm that manufactures chemical products should prioritize using renewable raw materials. Depleting natural resources is harmful to the environment. Renewable feedstocks often come from agricultural products or the wastes of other processes, while non-renewable feedstocks typically come from fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas, or coal, as well as mining operations. Using renewable feedstocks, such as chemicals derived from biological sources, makes manufacturing processes more sustainable.


  • Chemical Derivatives should be Avoided: 


Avoid using blocking or protecting groups or any temporary modifications whenever possible. After all, these derivatives require additional reagents and generate waste. Many facilities have found that particular enzymes can target specific parts of a molecule’s structure without protecting groups or derivatives. This approach can reduce the chemical process’s complexity, cost, and environmental impact.


  • Use Catalysts: 


Minimize waste using catalytic reactions, as catalysts are effective in small amounts and can perform a reaction multiple times. Catalysts produce less waste than stoichiometric reagents, used in excess and only carry out a reaction once. Furthermore, catalysts can often be reused, enhancing the sustainability of the process.


  • Design Chemicals for Degradation:


Chemical production should avoid creating materials that don’t break down easily. Facilities should design products that decompose into harmless substances after use to prevent environmental accumulation. Harmful substances, like halogenated compounds (e.g., DDT), should be replaced with alternatives that break down more easily through water, UV light, or biodegradation. 


  • Real-Time Pollution Prevention:


Develop methods for real-time monitoring and control of chemical processes to prevent hazardous substance formation. Regular monitoring during chemical reactions helps identify and stop the release of harmful substances, allowing for timely and effective intervention.


  • Prioritize Accident Prevention: 


Design chemicals and processes to minimize the risk of accidents. Facilities should produce less hazardous chemicals, ensuring products with manageable risks are always preferred. This principle is closely related to other principles addressing hazardous products or reagents. Facilities therefore must eliminate exposure to hazards from processes wherever possible. If elimination is not feasible, design processes to minimize risks effectively.


Key Benefits of Green Chemistry:


By applying the principles of green chemistry, we can protect the environment and human health while boosting the economy. Here are some key benefits of adopting green chemistry in manufacturing:


  • Protects Human Health:


Green chemistry protects human health by preventing air, water, and other types of environmental pollution. It benefits both the environment and human health by minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals into the air, which can cause lung damage. Additionally, reducing the amount of chemical waste helps maintain clean drinking water. By adopting green chemistry principles, we can safeguard people from the harmful effects of chemical pollutants.


  • Enhances Safety for Workers:


 By designing safer chemicals and processes, green chemistry reduces the risk of accidents or toxic substance release. It’s therefore helping build a workplace that is safer for each worker.  Moreover. creating workplaces without the need to preserve personal protective equipment becomes feasible. Thus workers also get not just a safer but a stress-free workplace.  


  • Cost-Effective:


Green chemistry processes often require less energy and fewer raw materials. It can lower production costs and increase economic efficiency for companies. That’s why, this helps design a more cost-effective production method for chemical products. 


  • Promotes Sustainability:


Using renewable resources and designing products to degrade safely at the end of their lifecycle supports sustainability and conserves natural resources. Thus it is helpful and required for a proper and chemical production process.




Green chemistry principles provide a new way to make chemicals that are safer, cleaner, and more efficient. By reducing harmful substances, cutting waste, and using renewable resources, these principles protect both people and the planet. They also make chemical processes more efficient and cost-effective. Adopting green chemistry practices helps create a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future for everyone. 


Each facility that produces chemical products must understand and embrace each principle well. This will help them continue a manufacturing process ideal for the environment and also for their workforce.