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Green Chemistry Concepts in Personal Care and Cosmetics
Posted: February 14, 2008
With the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, the United States established a national policy to prevent or reduce pollution at its source whenever feasible. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted the term green chemistry to mean the use of chemistry for pollution prevention. More specifically, EPA says “green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.”
In 1995, EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics launched the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge, a voluntary partnership to support further green chemistry research and recognize outstanding examples of green chemistry. The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards highlight successes in research, development and industrial implementation of technologies that prevent pollution at the source while contributing to the competitiveness of the innovators. An award is typically issued each year in each of five categories:
• Green Synthetic Pathways
• Green Reaction Conditions
• Designing Greener Chemicals
• Small Businesses
• Academic Investigators
Since 1996 when the first Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards were announced, more than a thousand entries have been reviewed and 62 awards have been presented. The entries represent a wide range of industries, including transportation and agriculture and activites whose pollution consequences are much greater than that of cosmetics and personal care. But these latter industries can make their contribution to improving safety and reducing pollution.
The descriptions for all the entries (except for the years 2001–2004) are available at the EPA’s Web site. A keyword seach of those entries disclosed 14 that claimed a connection to the cosmetics and personal care industries. In almost every case the technologies described can be applied to other industries also. The purpose of this Web Exclusive is to review those 14 entries and provide a direct link to them (see Table 1) at the EPA. The link accesses a PDF file that can be searched using a Find command to locate the description of interest. The descriptions that follow are excerpted and edited from those PDF files. No references are provided in those files to support the facts and claims presented there. For that reason, no references are provided here.
A Green System to Reformulate Consumer Products
S.C. Johnson & Sons Inc. formulates and manufactures the Edgea brand of shave creams and gels as well as a wide variety of products for home cleaning, air care, insect control and home storage. Starting in 2001, the company developed Greenlistb, a system that rates the environmental footprint of the ingredients in its products. Through Greenlist, the company’s chemists and product formulators around the globe have instant access to environmental ratings of potential product ingredients.
a Edge is a trademark of S.C. Johnson.
b Greenlist is a trademark of S.C. Johnson.