Policies purportedly on Green Chemistry are growing in number. Most, however, are really efforts to drive chemicals of concern out of use. Very few policies seek to help build technical capacity in Green Chemistry.
Figure 1: Timeline of US federal chemicals policy from 1976 to present. Data drawn from Beveridge and Diamond PC. Click for larger image.
Chemical policies at US federal, state and international levels:
The field of Green Chemistry has been in development since passage of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, but it has received little government support. In March 2008 a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would strengthen federal efforts to “find safer, more sustainable technological alternatives to existing chemical products”. The House passed a similar measure (H.R. 2850) in 2007. This is the third time for this bill: a Green Chemistry bill was introduced in 2004 and again in 2006, but died when the Senate refused to ratify it.
The Green Chemistry Research & Development Act of 2008 (S. 2669) would create an interagency working group to advance research into environmentally friendly chemicals. The group will be led by NSF and EPA in coordination with the Department of Energy and NIST. The bill would provide $165 million over the next three fiscal years in grant funding for private sector and academic R&D projects. It would also expand education and training for chemists and chemical engineers in Green Chemistry science and engineering.
Figure 2: Timeline of US state green chemistry policies from 2006 to present. Data drawn from Beveridge and Diamond PC. Click for larger image.
A multi-sectoral stakeholder group in Oregon released a whitepaper recommending steps that the state can take to build local capacity and become a Green Chemistry powerhouse. To date this is the best effort focused on key areas of investment that states can make to foster such a transition.
California has gone the farthest in creating legislation around Green Chemistry. Other states (including Michigan, and Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Texas) have state-level projects, directives or efforts of note. The New England Green Chemistry Association is a regional university effort.
European efforts such as REACH, RoHS and WEEE provide incentives or drivers for green chemistry innovations and solutions in that they increase transparency and pressure to replace chemicals of concern in industrial use. But so far we know of no pan-EU policies to explicitly foster and support the development of Green Chemistry.
India has a Ministry of Education order requiring all university chemistry students to be exposed to one year of green chemistry; also there have been several Indian conferences on green chemistry.