Green chemistry pioneers are concerned that progress in the industry is being hamstrung by the poor training offered at college level to those studying US chemistry degrees. The issue is more a lack of adequate training in environmental mechanisms and toxicology studies than anything else. One of the leading green chemistry advocates – John Warner of Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry made it clear at a recent symposium that today’s chemists are unaware of the impact of synthesizing molecules on human health.
Anticipating the negative effects of synthesizing molecules without considering their impact on the environment is a big part of the problem in educational facilities across the US. The majority of chemical industry companies in the United States have research and development budgets which are akin to environmental compliance budgets. Therefore, the onus is on scientists to develop chemical products that are safe for human and environmental consumption. For the past 7 decades, chemical engineering education and chemistry itself has not really been modified to adapt to the exigencies of safe usage. There are increasing calls to focus on green chemistry as the only way to advance the industry.
Various industry watchdogs are concerned that the lack of focus on sustainable practices and environmentally friendly chemistry is a major factor in the lack of progress in this regard. Many US companies that are developing bio-friendly facilities and operations are relocating offshore owing to tax benefits and incentives from foreign governments. There were simply more opportunities to raise capital elsewhere than in the US. Now however, American loan programs are increasingly being made available to the chemical industry, even though they were not expressly designed for that purpose.