If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



Comment: American Chemical Society’s commitment to sustainability and green chemistry

by Carolyn Ribes, ACS director-at-large
December 16, 2023 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 101, Issue 41


Carolyn Ribes.
Credit: Courtesy Carolyn Ribes
Carolyn Ribes

Two years ago, the ACS Board of Directors announced $50 million in investments over 5 years for four strategic initiatives that would have a positive impact on the world and the chemistry enterprise by 2026. Significant progress has been made in all four areas, one of which is the Campaign for a Sustainable Future. The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that ACS provides leadership in support of achieving the 17 United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs). As a member of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute Advisory Board, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the great strides that the campaign has already made, as well as the impressive work of the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (GCI).

One pillar of the campaign has been the ACS sustainability summits. In 2022, ACS hosted the ACS Sustainability Zero Hunger Summit. This meeting addressed SDG 2: zero hunger and featured speakers on a variety of topics, including the interactions between climate and agriculture, the optimization of crop production, and sustainable packaging and reducing waste. TheDiscovery Report and recordings of the presentations are available at The second sustainability summit, Reimagining Chemistry Education, aligned with SDG 4: quality education. This meeting was held earlier this month in partnership with the ACS Division of Chemical Education and Beyond Benign. The purpose was to significantly advance collaborations between academia and industry in developing curricular materials to bring green chemistry and sustainability into undergraduate and graduate education and to the current workforce. Topics such as systems thinking, educational module development, incorporating environmental justice into workforce training, and enabling tomorrow’s workforce were explored by an international array of speakers.

A second pillar of the campaign includes ACS sustainability grants and awards:

The Career Achievement in Green Chemistry Education award is granted to experienced undergraduate instructors who have made a deep impact on the future of green chemistry and sustainability in education.

The Early Career Postdoctoral-Faculty Bridge Grant allows researchers seeking an academic position or who are in the first 9 months of their appointment to launch their independent research with funds for a postdoctoral fellow.

The Principal Investigator Development in Sustainability Grant supports a sabbatical for early- or midcareer investigators. The goal is to create robust collaborations across disciplines.

The Rising Stars in Green Chemistry Education Award supports scholars who have committed to focusing on green chemistry or sustainability in curricula.

The Teaching Green Fellowship focuses on undergraduate educators who have developed innovative curricular materials incorporating green chemistry or sustainability concepts.

The great progress made by the Campaign for a Sustainable Future builds on the strong foundation of the GCI. The mission of the GCI is to catalyze the implementation of innovative approaches to chemistry and engineering that enable sustainable development across the globe. These programs are complementary and benefit from the expertise and passion of the staff of the ACS Office of Sustainable Development. For those ACS members and readers who are not familiar with the long-standing successful programs, products, and services of the GCI, I’ll highlight a few of my favorites:

The Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference has been a critical conference for several decades in building the green chemistry community, disseminating research, and developing educational programs. “AI-Enabled Green Chemistry” will be the theme for the 28th Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, which will be held in Atlanta June 3–5, 2024. Abstracts will be accepted from Jan. 2 to Feb. 12, 2024.

The ACS Green and Sustainable Chemistry Summer School has been providing an intense development experience for graduate students and postdocs from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean for 20 years. The program includes lectures by experts, panel discussions, posters, and networking throughout the week. The summer school has been a critical factor in developing leaders in green chemistry. The next session will be held June 21–26, 2024, in Golden, Colorado. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 26, 2024.

The revisedACS Guidelines for Bachelor’s Degree Programs now includes green chemistry and systems thinking in curricula. Key contributors from the GCI staff, ACS Committee on Environment and Sustainability, and other educators developed guidance materials such asGreen Chemistry in the Curriculum.

GCI Industrial Round Tables provide a forum for interactions and communications across the pharmaceutical and oil field industries. A natural polymer consortium has recently been launched.

I encourage interested ACS members and readers to review the great work that is being done within ACS to advance sustainability and achieve the UN SDGs. You can learn more by reviewing the websites of the ACS GCI and the Campaign for a Sustainable Future or subscribing to theNexus newsletter.

Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.