The chemical sciences has a sustainability problem. Chemical production is expected to double by 2030, according to a recent UN report, but quite how this will be done without costing the Earth is still an unanswered question. At the recent International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s congress in Paris, the ‘father of green chemistry’ Paul Anastas outlined his vision for what needs to change.

Anastas and Julie Zimmerman recently published their ‘periodic table of the elements of green and sustainable chemistry’ in Green Chemistry (DOI: 10.1039/c9gc01293a) where they outline 90 concepts to guide chemists and chemistry to a sustainable future. The table introduces a whole range of tools that chemistry needs to develop, as well as humanitarian and ‘noble’ goals (no prizes for guessing where these sit on the table) for chemists. The breadth and scale of the challenges are huge. The recommendations cover pretty much every imaginable intersection between chemistry and society.

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