Green and sustainable chemistry represents the collective desire of industries and society at large to solve the world’s most challenging problems, and generate future-proof solutions that benefit the global populace

It seems that with each passing week modern industrial society unintentionally impacts the environment in a new way. From the increasing volume of plastics in our oceans to the rise in global temperatures as a result of greenhouse gas production, mankind has never faced such unprecedented global challenges that threaten our existence.

Scientists have recognised and heeded this clear call to action. Research into greener and cleaner chemistries as well as business efforts to make processes more sustainable in the long term have both led to a shift in the chemicals industry. Companies and institutions now share a common goal of minimising the environmental impact of their given industry.

We should also remember that environmental challenges are not a 21st century problem. In fact, we only need to look back over the previous decades to identify similar challenges that have arisen only to be addressed by the collective community.

In 1987, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), previously prevalent in many consumer products, were outlawed in efforts to prevent the continued decline of the ozone layer. However, recent research has shown that ozone is still declining, and to this day remains a fundamental environmental issue. In addition, early petrol-powered motor vehicles are now notorious for emitting copious quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The solution of the nineties was to shift to diesel-powered vehicles, which had the advantage of reduced carbon dioxide emissions but the unforeseen and detrimental effect of releasing toxic NOx and particulate matter. Such problems are frequently encountered across research; one solution to today’s problem inadvertently causes tomorrow’s.

It is now a common goal to create future-proof solutions that succeed for generations to come. Such innovations include novel battery material technology that will be powerful enough to deliver the promise of an electric-powered future, developing plastics and packaging that degrade into innocuous materials, or introducing processes that can efficiently recycle materials and products of our society.

To recognise some of the innovative research focusing on sustainability, we are extremely excited to announce the second Chemistry World and Notch Communications co-produced digital supplement, on green chemistry and sustainability. Following on from our inaugural issue on technology for health, this issue focuses on how green chemistry or sustainable methods used by companies around the world help build a brighter, more prosperous tomorrow.

In this second issue, we aim to focus on some of the innovative research being performed across the world covering a range of sustainability topics. From more sustainable chemical processes involving catalysed reactions, via metathesis or catalytic converters, to ensuring the continued sustainable supply of trustworthy food. We would like to thank our partners from across the globe for their time and effort in helping us to tell their stories, highlighting how they are helping to deliver a greener future for us all.

But it does not end here. We still have many stories to tell from different aspects of the chemicals industry. We are now working on our next joint venture focusing on the people and companies who are the innovators of the pharma, chemistry and biotechnology sectors. If you have a story to tell, please get in touch. We hope you enjoy this latest issue.

Welcome to our sustainability special