By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On June 6, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2022 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. EPA states that green chemistry “is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of hazardous substances.” According to EPA, the winners “have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that provide solutions to significant environmental challenges and spur innovation and economic development.” In support of the Biden Administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis, EPA added a new award category recognizing technology that reduces or eliminates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The 2022 winners include:
- Professor Song Lin of Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, for developing a new, more efficient process to create large and complicated molecules that are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry. EPA states that the new technology avoids using hazardous materials and has the potential to reduce both energy use and wasteful byproducts.
- Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for developing a greener way to make LAGEVRIO™ (molnupiravir), an antiviral treatment for COVID-19. According to EPA, Merck significantly improved the manufacturing process for this antiviral drug in a short time, producing ingredients more efficiently and greatly reducing solvent waste and energy use.
- Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California, for an improved manufacturing process for LUMAKRAS™ (sotorasib), a novel drug for the treatment of certain non-small cell lung cancers. EPA states that Amgen’s innovation decreased manufacturing time, lowered the amount of solvent waste generated, and established a recycling process for a high-value waste stream.
- Provivi, Santa Monica, California, for creating ProviviFAW®, a biological pheromone-based product that controls the fall armyworm, a destructive pest of corn. The product’s pheromone active ingredients are produced through innovative green chemistry using renewable plant oils. According to EPA, ProviviFAW™ can reduce the need for conventional pesticides, which can be harmful to beneficial insects, such as pollinators.
- Professor Mark Mascal of the University of California, Davis, California, in partnership with Origin Materials, for a technology that reduces GHG emissions by producing chemicals for making polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic from biomass derived from sugar fructose rather than petroleum. EPA states that this novel chemistry could have significant climate impacts by replacing fossil-based products with carbon-neutral, biobased products, especially when the technology is scaled to an entire industry.
EPA recognized the winners during the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference. EPA states that since 1996, EPA and the American Chemical Society, which co-sponsor the awards, have received more than 1,800 nominations and presented awards to 133 technologies that decrease hazardous chemicals and resources, reduce costs, protect public health, and spur economic growth. According to EPA, winning technologies are responsible for reducing the use or generation of nearly one billion pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving over 20 billion gallons of water, and eliminating nearly eight billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents released to the air.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On June 16, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. EPA states that this year’s winners “have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that turn potential environmental challenges into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.” The 2020 winners and their innovative technologies are:
- Genomatica, San Diego, California, for creating Brontide™, a new brand of 1,3-butylene glycol, commonly used in cosmetics for moisture retention and as a carrier for plant extracts. Butylene glycol is traditionally produced from fossil fuels. Brontide™ is produced by fermenting E. coli using renewable sugars in a one-step production process, however. This method reduces greenhouse gas emissions and avoids the use of hazardous chemicals in the production process.
- Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for improving the process used to produce certain antiviral drugs used for the treatment of diseases including hepatitis C and HIV. According to EPA, the new process improved manufacturing efficiency and sustainability of one important antiviral by more than 85 percent. This method reduces waste and hazards associated with the existing process and results in substantial cost savings.
- Johns Manville, Littleton, Colorado, for developing a biobased, formaldehyde-free thermoset binder for fiberglass reinforcement applications. Thermoset binders are used to bind glass fibers of fiberglass mats used in carpet tile backing. EPA states that this technology eliminates the use of hazardous chemicals, reduces water and energy use, and produces a product with a longer shelf life.
- Professor Steven Skerlos, University of Michigan and Fusion Coolant Systems, for creating Pure-Cut™, an alternative to traditional metalworking fluids that uses high-pressure carbon dioxide instead of oil-based lubricants. According to EPA, Pure-Cut™ can improve performance and machining tool life span compared to traditional metalworking fluids, while greatly reducing hazards to the environment and worker health.
- Vestaron, Kalamazoo, Michigan, for producing a new biopesticide called Spear®. This pesticide is based on a naturally occurring component inspired by spider venom that can effectively control target pests while showing no adverse effects on people, the environment, and non-target wildlife, such as fish and bees. EPA notes that Spear® should provide growers with a new pest management tool that also lessens environmental impacts.
EPA plans to recognize the winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year. EPA and the American Chemical Society co-sponsor the awards. An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2020 submissions and made recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On June 10, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., the American Chemical Society (ACS) will hold the 2019 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), in partnership with the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® and members of the chemical community, these prestigious annual awards recognize chemical technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture, and use.
EPA usually presents one Green Chemistry Challenge Award in each award category. For the 2019 competition, there are five award categories:
- Focus Area 1: Greener Synthetic Pathways;
- Focus Area 2: Greener Reaction Conditions;
- Focus Area 3: The Design of Greener Chemicals;
- Small Business (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by a small business); and
- Academic (for a technology in any of the three focus areas developed by an academic researcher).
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Richard E. Engler, Ph.D., and Carla N. Hutton
On July 20, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on its audit of EPA’s implementation of the OIG recommendations for the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards (PGCCA) Program. The PGCCA Program is sponsored by the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) to promote the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using green chemistry by recognizing industry innovations. In 2015, OIG reported that award results submitted to the EPA’s Pollution Prevention (P2) Program from PGCCA recipients were not adequately supported or transparent. In its audit, OIG found that EPA discontinued the use of unverified PGCCA results in EPA performance metrics, but “a lack of documented controls presents risk that these data may be used in the future.”
Please see the full memorandum for more information including a short history on performance metrics of the Green Chemistry Program.