Volume 87 Issue 45 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: November 9, 2009

Really, Really Green

Department: Letters

C&EN is a consistently useful resource that observes the chemical universe. The balance of razor-sharp reports on chemical research, along with frequent in-depth reports on the chemical-based enterprise, is a treasure. And C&EN consistently places government actions in a useful context. Breaking news and significant new trends in the chemical sciences appear regularly in C&EN. Thank you.

One significant trend in the chemical headlines is "green chemistry." Note that virtually all natural products and materials are easily recyclable, well, naturally. Thus, I find the apparent narrow focus of green chemistry a bit puzzling. Yes, green chemistry, as it stands, seems to advocate the development of process technology that is cleaner, greener, with less waste, lower energy consumption, and, overall, less environmental impact. This is a proper start.

However, a recent C&EN article reported at length on engineering polymers (C&EN, June 22, page 15). The materials that were featured in the story—nylon, polycarbonate, and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene—are environmentally robust. These, plus polyethylene terephthalate, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyethylene, and others arrive on the planet yearly in billion$ (sic) of pound$ (sic). How will C&EN champion a move toward green polymers, other than occasionally reporting on, say, the latest development in corn-based plastics or polymers produced via bacterial metabolism?

Please act to expand the concept of green chemistry to its most benign extent. Green should be really, really bright green. C&EN can be a consistent and positive bully pulpit for a revolution: truly green chemistry.

Robert Pellenbarg
Palm Desert, Calif.

 
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