By changing your laboratory purchasing practices and choosing greener product alternatives, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, solid and hazardous waste generation, and energy and water consumption. The practice of Green chemistry includes the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances and applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture, use, and ultimate disposal. Here, we try to address the scope of purchasing required for laboratories. For a technology to be considered Green Chemistry, it must accomplish three things:

  • It must be more environmentally benign than existing alternatives.
  • It must be more economically viable than existing alternatives.
  • It must be functionally equivalent to or outperform existing alternatives. Source: and Warner Babcock


  • Opportunity for growth & competitive advantage
  • Higher yields for chemical reactions, consuming smaller amounts of fieldstocks to obtain same reaction
  • Fewer synthetic steps, often allowing faster manufacturing of product
  • Reduced waste, eliminating costly remediation, hazardous waste disposal, and end of pipe treatments
  • Less chemical disruption of ecosystems
  • Less use of landfills, especially hazardous waste landfills

Tools and Resources

Tools are provided to help you match resources to your laboratory needs. Resources below will help to facilitate:

  • Purchasing nontoxic & biodegradable products whenever possible
  • Finding substitutions for less hazardous & safer alternatives
  • Implementing processes and procedures to reduce use of toxics
  • Purchasing Energy Star-rated products when possible
  • Identification, removal, & discontinuance of products containing PVCs, BPA, PBTs, or phthalate whenever possible
  • Becoming familiar with the principles of green chemistry

Purchasing Nontoxic & Biodegradable Products and Safer Substitutions

Green Alternative Wizard

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

EPA Tools and Resources

The EPA site includes: Basics of Green Chemistry, The 12 principles, benefits, funding tools, literature, education, and other tools. Source:

Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse

The overall goal of the Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse is to accelerate green chemistry awareness, innovation and investment in the State of Michigan by creating and enabling a community of green chemistry advocates that are connected and informed. The Clearinghouse aims to be a dynamic and interactive on-line source of information, resources, databases, learning opportunities and interactive tools for citizens, business and industry professionals, educators, policy makers, entrepreneurs and others.

 Purchasing Energy Star Products

Buy Green List for Green Purchasing Source: University of British Columbia Risk Management Services

Labs21 Tool Kit

Labs 21 provides a kit of resources to support the design, construction, and operation of high-performance laboratories. The tools include design guides, case studies, a performance rating system, a video, and other products that are planned or under development.

Help with Green Chemistry in Industry

American Chemical Society – Green Chemistry

This site focuses on Green Chemistry in industry. It includes business case studies and supports several roundtable discussion groups. Source: American Chemical Society

Help with Green Chemistry in Laboratories to Reduce Toxics and Waste

Green Chemistry for Every Laboratory

This provides information on green chemistry and chemical waste reduction information specifically for laboratories. Source: Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards
Inventory and Tracking of Chemicals Source: Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards

Storage of Chemicals in Stockrooms and Laboratories

Source: Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards

 Help with identification, removal, & discontinuance of products containing PVCs, BPA, PBTs, or phthalate whenever possible

Existing Chemicals Action Plan


 Design for the Environment Alternatives Assessment

This brings you to an alternatives assessments process that EPA uses to look for safer chemicals. Design for the Environment (DfE) alternatives assessments are conducted as risk management actions when warranted.  Source:

Management of Chemicals

National Center for Biotechnology Information

The document organizes the discussion of managing laboratory chemicals into six main topics: reducing and eliminating the use and generation of hazardous substances (green chemistry); acquisition; inventory and tracking; storage in stockrooms and laboratories; recycling of chemicals and laboratory materials; and transfer, transport, and shipment of chemicals.

Journal of Green Chemistry

The journal says that it “publishes original and significant cutting-edge research that is likely to be of wide general appeal.”

Principles of Green Chemistry

  1. Prevent waste
  2. Maximize atom economy
  3. Design less hazardous chemical syntheses
  4. Design safer chemicals and products
  5. Use safer solvents and reaction conditions
  6. Increase energy efficiency
  7. Use renewable feedstocks
  8. Avoid chemical derivatives
  9. Use catalysts, not stoichiometric reagents
  10. Design chemicals and products to degrade after use
  11. Analyze in real time to prevent pollution
  12. Minimize the potential for accidents


Best Practices in Green Purchasing

  1. Consolidate orders to reduce deliveries, which reduces fossil fuel emissions, lowers packaging waste, and saves paper, energy, and time.
  2. Purchase multiple-item packs instead of singles, which reduces waste from packaging materials.
  3. Increase item lines per order, which saves paper, energy and reduces multiple shipments (and the associated transportation emissions).
  4. Purchase as many lab supplies as possible from one source, which reduces extra shipping, transportation and packaging.
  5. Order online to save paper & time,
  6. Purchase energy-efficient equipment during lab renovations or when older pieces of equipment stop working. Look for the ENERGY STAR ® label
  7. Ask vendor for energy usage information

Source: University of British Columbia Risk Management Services


The ACS GCI, with financial support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, worked with business schools to produce a series of case studies that can be used to investigate important questions facing businesses as they work to implement sustainable solutions. Innovative approaches to product design, formulation, and manufacturing processes save companies money while helping them align with their sustainability and safety goals (American Chemistry Society).

  • Archer Daniels Midland Company
    • ADM’s Archer RCTM is now considered a revolutionary innovation in substantially reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from coating products. In addition to the product’s environmental benefits, recent tests have indicated that it is superior to traditional paints and stains.
  • DuPont Cleaning Products Division
    • pondering the future direction of the division in light of growing concern over the environmental and social implications of the chemical ingredients of cleaning products.
    • developed expertise in life sciences, produced biomedical products and agricultural chemicals, and integrated chemistry and biotechnology. DuPont’s culture revolves around safety, business ethics, and respect for people
  • Natureworks: Green Chemistry’s Contribution to Biotechnology Innovation, Commercialization, and Strategic Planning
    • prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its development of the first synthetic polymer class to be produced from renewable resources—specifically, from corn grown in the American Midwest
    • The product was biomass material and held the potential to substitute a renewable feedstock (raw material) for petroleum-based polymers.
    • In addition to replacing petroleum as the material feedstock, PLA resins have the added benefit of being compostable (safely biodegraded) or even infinitely recyclable
  • Pfizer Pharmaceuticals: Green Chemistry Innovation and Business Strategy
    • Pfizer won the U.S. Presidential Green Chemistry Award for Alternative Synthetic Pathways for its innovative manufacturing process for sertraline hydrochloride (HCl). Sertraline HCl was the active ingredient in the pharmaceutical Zoloft
    • Pfizer dramatically improved the commercial manufacturing process of sertraline: through green chemistry improved workers and environment safety
    • The new commercial process (referred to as the “combined” process) offered dramatic pollution prevention benefits, including improved safety and material handling, reduced energy and water use, and double overall product yield
  • SC Johnson and the GreenlistTM Challenge
    • patented Greenlist process formalizes the classification of raw materials used in the company’s products according to their impact on the environment and human health
    • uses a process that assists with the continual improvement of the environmental profile of the company’s products.
  • Shaw Industries: Sustainable Business, Entrepreneurial Innovation, and Green Chemistry
    • won a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The company earned the award by applying green chemistry and engineering principles with a cradle-to-cradle design2 (C2C) approach to create environmentally benign carpet tile, a first in the industry
  • TerraCycle, Inc.
    • turn worm poop and used soda bottles into a viable business that forces us to reexamine the way in which we do business.
    • triple-bottom-line company that becomes more profitable as a result of (and not in spite of) its environmentally conscious and socially responsible business model.
    • produces, markets, and sells plant fertilizers for consumer use that are produced and packaged entirely out of waste.

Business case studies that:

Understand the business development process behind green chemistry technologies (American Chemistry Society).

  • Buckman International, Inc.
    • Buckman’s Maximyze® enzymes modify the cellulose in wood to increase the number of “fibrils” that bind the wood fibers to each other, thus making paper with improved strength and quality — without additional chemicals or energy. Buckman’s process also allows papermaking with less wood fiber and higher percentages of recycled paper, enabling a single plant to save $1 million per year
  • Codexis, Inc. & Dr. Yi Tang, UCLA
    • Simvastatin, a leading drug for treating high cholesterol, is manufactured from a natural product.
    • The resulting process greatly reduces hazard and waste, is cost-effective and meets the needs of customer
  • Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc.
    • Nobel-prize-winning catalyst technology to break down natural oils and recombine the fragments into novel, high-performance green chemicals that reduce greenhouse gases by 50%

Works Cited and More Resources

“About Green Chemistry.” Warner Babcock Institute. Cthulu Ventures, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Basics of Green Chemistry.” EPA—Environmental Protection Agency. EPA, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Green Alternatives Wizard.” Input. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Green Chemistry.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Green Chemistry.” Green Chemistry. Royal Society for Chemistry, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Industry & Business – American Chemical Society.” American Chemical Society. American Chemical Society, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Laboratory Resources | Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse.” Michigan Green Chemistry Clearinghouse. Aquinas College Center for Sustainability, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

“Labs21 Tool Kit.” I2SL: Resources. US EPA, n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

National Research Council (US) Committee on Prudent Practices in the Laboratory. “Management of Chemicals.” Prudent Practices in the Laboratory. Washington D.C.: National Academies, 2011. 73-105. NCBI—National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.

Substitution of a More Hazardous Chemical by a Less Hazardous Chemical (n.d.): N. Pag. Alfred University. Web.

“The University of British Columbia.” Green Purchasing Toolkit. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Sept. 2015. <;.