On August 19, 2015 The Guardian published an article by journalist Amy Westervelt on “What will it take for brands to deliver on the promise of greener chemicals?”. In her article, Westervelt chronicles how the concept of green chemistry came to life. Green chemistry, as defined in the 1990s by John Warner and Paul Anastas, is a framework for the development and use of chemicals which are, ideally, inherently non-hazardous. Westervelt also writes that there is a “lack of shared understanding of exactly what green chemistry means”, and that this is one of several barriers preventing this framework from gaining greater momentum. Meanwhile, several major brands have introduced procurement guidelines that integrate green chemistry concepts, thereby starting a trend of replacing hazardous chemicals with (apparently) less hazardous alternatives. However, the replacements are not always non-hazardous themselves as turns out later once more testing is done. If more in-depth analysis proves them to be in fact hazardous themselves, experts speak of “regrettable replacements”. Hence the biggest challenge is seen as making the shift from the current “Whac-a-Mole” replacement, where one hazardous chemical is replaced by another compound of concern, to a more informed strategy. According to Anastas “we have to have a better understanding of the nature of the hazard at the molecular level. Once we have that understanding, we can understand chemicals in terms of families and groups and the risk on humans and the environment”. The article also includes a short list of chemicals of concern, including highly fluorinated chemicals, antimicrobials like triclosan, and bisphenols and phthalates.
Amy Westervelt (August 19, 2015). “What will it take for brands to deliver on the promise of greener chemicals?”. The Guardian