Five Quick Steps to Implement Green Chemistry within Your Laboratory
Let’s play a game! I am going to give you a word and you tell me the first thing that pops into your mind. Ready? The word is – Green!
This is an interesting word because there are so many answers that can come up. Some people may think of green as simply a color, while others will think of money. You may think it is the color of chlorophyll while someone else may recognize it as the battle cry for the environmental and recycling movement. However, for the laboratory industry, it is becoming a new way to do business.
Green chemistry, also commonly known as sustainable chemistry, is the design, development and deployment of new chemicals or processes that reduce or eliminate chemicals identified as hazardous to human health. The main idea is that laboratories and companies attempt to reduce their reliance and use of chemicals that may pose a danger to humans.
The movement is gaining steam around the world and has seen particular support from large companies. For example, in August of this year, Apple Inc. announced that they were removing two chemicals from the final production process for both the iPhone and the iPad. This was in spite of the fact that the two chemicals in question, benzene and n-hexane, had never been linked to causing any accidents. Walmart also issued a warning to suppliers earlier this year that they would begin phasing out dozens of consumer products that contained toxic chemicals unless their contents were modified to include safer chemicals.
As the green chemistry movement gains ground, more laboratories are considering taking action to join in. To help these labs make the transition and get the most bang for their buck, let’s explore five steps that should be taken to implement a green chemistry program:
- Identify current chemicals – Before attempting to replace a chemical, labs should first have an idea regarding the chemicals currently onsite. This includes both reagents and auxiliary substances.
Reduce Waste – Laboratory chemicals come with an expiration date. The best way to prevent disposing of completely full containers of chemicals is to ensure that they never expire. Pay close attention to disposal dates in order to reduce chemical waste.
Identify Alternatives – Once labs have identified the current chemicals in the laboratory and have made an effort to stop over-purchasing items, it is time to start looking for replacement chemicals. The ideal chemical will be less hazardous and safer for the environment.
Reduce Derivatives – Where possible, scientists should attempt to reduce or eliminate derivation, because it generates waste or may require additional reagent input.
Increase Safety Procedures – Sometimes, it is not possible to completely eliminate a toxic substance. In these cases, a focus should be on ensuring that safety precautions are followed in order to prevent accidents from occurring.
To achieve successful implementation, green chemistry requires a lot of data on chemicals and processes. Gathering and tracking this level of detail would be simpler with a chemical management system. With a chemical inventory management system, managers would be able to quickly identify their current chemicals and start to look for replacements They would also be able to monitor expiration dates efficiently to ensure that waste is not occurring. Finally, they can help ensure that safety related materials, like Safety Data Sheets, are readily available to all workers. If you would like to learn more about how a chemical inventory management system like BIOVIA CISPro can help your laboratory adopt green chemistry, please visit our website today.