Green Chemistry in the 21st Century

I have contributed to Frank Swain’s (@SciencePunk) Future Exchanges collection on Medium, as part of a collection of essays on the future of environmentalism in the 21st Century. I have included a selection from my post below; the full text can be found here.

“When we think of pharmaceuticals, we probably imagine rows of perfectly formed tablets zipping along production lines, or scientists working in immaculately clean laboratories. We are perhaps less aware of the tonnes of acids and bases, chlorinated solvents and heavy metals that are used to produce our medicines. For every kilogram of drug manufactured, up to a tonne of these chemicals end up as waste; waste that has to be destroyed, stored or disposed of by other means. The fear of litigation is also ever-present, making the industry increasingly wary of using any chemicals that might present a risk to human health. Many pharmaceutical chemists now realise that Green Chemistry not only makes environmental sense, but business sense and 20 years on the industry is seen as a success story.”

 

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