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Green chemistry--the tech behind a lot of green tech

Innovation in materials to make them environmentally benign and less wasteful is behind many green tech companies and initiatives.

Green chemistry is a green movement you may not have heard of, but one certainly worth paying attention to.

Over the past month, I got to hear some of the leading lights in the field, notably professors John Warner and Paul Anastas, speak about what green chemistry is and its effects. Click here for the full report.

Chemicals touch so many industries that the ideas behind green chemistry, such as reducing waste and making non-hazardous materials, can be applied very widely--electronics, pharmaceuticals, biofuels, bioplastics, water purification, green buildings, consumer health and care products.

In just one example, Anatsas, professor of green chemistry and green engineering at Yale University, said that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide can be used as a feedstock to make other products, like environmentally benign building insulation. Start-up Novomer last week got funding to commercialize a process of using CO2 to make biodegradeable plastics.

Large companies need to start designing better materials to meet a growing number of regulations and calls from their customers to be responsible, argued some of the speakers who presented at the Green Chemistry Business Summit recently.

"More and more now, companies and industries are being held accountable for their environmental performance and social performance as well," said Berkeley Cue Jr., who started the green chemistry initiative at Pfizer.