In the January 5, 2009 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the official trade journal of the American Chemical Society, the ACS announced the formation of the Formulated Products Roundtable. This organization, which will begin operating later this month, is an industry-financed partnership between the ACS’s Green Chemistry Institute (GCI), a not-for-profit group devoted to promoting green chemistry, and sixteen prominent companies that manufacture cosmetics, perfumes, soaps, detergents, and other household and industrial cleaning products. Its aim is to share knowledge of green chemistry among its members in order to create products that are more sustainable, more environmentally friendly, and safer – and hopefully, more profitable too.
Environmentalism is slowly but surely making its way into the minds of consumers, and it’s starting to affect our spending. Demands for electric and hybrid vehicles are increasing exponentially – especially after the gas crisis of a few months ago. “Green” is the new buzzword. So we don’t just want greener cars. We want greener everything. And from light bulbs to clothing to chopsticks, the manufacturers of the world are responding.
In the face of new consumer demands, the problem that every industry group must meet is a definite lack of green technology. After all, if you want to buy green, they’d be fools not to sell it to you if they could. Sometimes, greening a product is simple. Sometimes, you have to literally reinvent the light bulb. But in the cases within the formulated products industry, what the manufacturers that mix premade chemicals into soaps, makeups, and cleaners call themselves, the basic chemical ingredients often do not yet exist.
Within the chemical industry, the costs for research and development of entirely new chemicals or even new, greener processes for manufacturing old standbys can often be staggering. By combining resources and utilizing the knowledge of many groups of scientists, the Formulated Products Roundtable hopes to change that. With the assistance of the GCI and its parent organization, the ACS, an organization of chemistry professionals in both industry and academia, the new group intends to share knowledge among its members as well as exert influence on the chemical suppliers to provide them with greener ingredients. The hope in the Roundtable’s founding is that the number of companies involved will defray research costs considerably and foster cooperation instead of competition among the participants.
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