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Opportunities and Advantages in Green

By: Sara Mason
Posted: January 19, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The development of new products and processes with environmental friendliness in mind can spur more innovation and exciting offerings.
  • Taking initiatives to source more local or sustainable ingredients from unique providers can spur greener product development.
  • Green doesn’t just mean sustainable for the environment—there are also financial, cultural and ethical factors to continually consider.
  • Green certifications can help tell the story of eco-consciousness to a brand’s consumers, as well as display a competitive advantage.

Everyday, we are exposed to numerous chemicals, often without even knowing it. Good and bad, chemicals saturate the environment, and nearly everything has been touched by advanced chemistry in some way. Many of those advances were inconceivable just a few decades ago, and there is much to be thankful for. Now, there’s a new focus, taking innovation to a new level: going green.

Green chemistry seeks to reduce the use of energy and resources, reduce waste, eliminate costly treatments, produce safer products and improve competition in the marketplace. The philosophy is that it’s better to be proactive in the prevention of waste than to react after development. The principles and framework for this approach include using benign substances instead of toxic ones, using fewer materials and natural resources whenever possible, using renewable materials, designing for energy efficiency, and planning for end of product life by using recyclable or biodegradable materials.

Companies within the industry can tackle green initiatives in many different ways. “There is great effort in reducing the overall footprint of the company itself or in the products it is making,” says Marcie Natale, market development manager, Eastman Chemical Company. Green chemistry can provide one key to lowering environmental footprints while continuing to manufacturer products that consumers want at prices they are willing to pay.

According to Warner Babcock Institute for Green Technology, for a technology to be considered green chemistry, it must:

  1. Be more environmentally benign than existing alternatives.
  2. Be more economically viable than existing alternatives.
  3. Be functionally equivalent to or outperform existing alternatives.