Overcoming the Challenges to the Implementation of Green Chemistry

CID Faculty Working Paper No. 155

Kira J. M. Matus, Paul T. Anastas, William C. Clark, and Kai Itameri-Kinter
December 2007


The Harvard-Yale-ACS GCI Green Chemistry Project is investigating the overall question of the circumstances under which firms can enact innovations that have both economic and environmental benefits, through a focused examination of the implementation of green chemistry. The research project has taken up three fundamental, interrelated questions: What factors act as barriers to the implementation of green chemistry? What actions can be taken by the government, academia, NGO’s and industry that will help alleviate these factors? What are the policy implications of these barriers and potential actions, for all of the involved stakeholders?
During its initial phases, through interviews with a dozen green chemistry leaders from industry and academia, and through a multi-stakeholder workshop, the project has focused on the first two questions, and is working towards the third. Overall, we determined that there are six major classes of barriers to the implementation of green chemistry: economic, regulatory, technical, organizational, cultural and definition and metrics. From the workshop participants, six major action themes emerged to address these. They are: create incentives for the development and implementation of innovations; consider policies to shift focus to hazard reduction; facilitate linkages, networks and collaborations; act as a facilitator for multi-stakeholder initiatives; promote actions that make environmental and health impacts a larger part of the decision calculus; and support research, knowledge creation, and educational efforts to support green chemistry across a range of disciplines and problem areas.

Keywords: green chemistry, innovation, chemical policy, environmental technology

JEL subject codes: O14, O31, O33, O38, Q56