Defining “Green Chemicals”

Is there a clear definition of what constitutes “green chemicals?” Does this vary from state-to-state, region-to-region, country-to-country or who is the guru that has the final word on what is or isn’t a “green chemicals?”


Only possible if you are “Dan Brown”

 Welcome to a Green thinking thought provoking challenge.

Q: Is there a clear definition of what constitutes “green chemicals?” Does this vary from state-to-state, region-to-region, country-to-country or who is the guru that has the final word on what is or isn’t a “green chemicals?”

In my research it would appear that the only real consensus is:

A: There is no definition for “green,” unless you are Kermit the Frog, and even then it’s not easy.

Another Definition could be: Green chemistry is the branch of chemistry concerned with developing processes and products to reduce or eliminate hazardous substances. One of the goals of green chemistry is to prevent pollution at its source, as opposed to dealing with pollution after it has occurred.

Or

A: Green chemicals are a class of compounds that are biodegradable. (A bit contradictory)

If the concept of Green Chemicals is based on biodegradability or reducing pollution or eliminating hazardous substances and or pollution then let us examine some of these definitions

Q: Is there a clear definition of what constitutes “biodegradability?” Does this vary from state-to-state, region-to-region, country-to-country and who has the final word on what is or isn’t “biodegradable?”

A: A “biodegradable” product has the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly, by biological means, into the raw materials of nature and disappear into the environment.

Interesting concept – how long is relatively quickly and when it is really relatively quickly is it a green product or does it make a greener than other product?

Of all the environmental buzzwords “biodegradable” has perhaps been the most misused and the most difficult to understand.  Because in the past there have been no guidelines or regulations, many products have called themselves biodegradable without any real justification.  Unfortunately, the word biodegradable has frequently been applied to products that generally aren’t (such as detergents or plastics) and almost never used for products that really are (such as soap or paper).

And then there is the question of what exactly does the product or material break down into and are there any toxic substances formed along the way or as the end result.

I see sleepless nights heading your way – Characteristics of the environment that the substance or material is in can also affect its ability to biodegrade.  OK – so what about everyday things we worry about? Detergents, for example, might break down in a natural freshwater “aerobic” (having oxygen) environment, but not in an “anaerobic” (lacking oxygen) environment such as sewage treatment plant digestors, or natural ecosystems such as swamps, flooded soils or surface water sediments.

Once it is determined that a substance or material will actually biodegrade under particular conditions, then there is the problem of actually using the product in those conditions and in an amount that can be sustained by the ecosystem that is receiving it.  The sustainable rate of biodegradation is that amount which a given ecosystem can absorb as a nutrient, and if necessary, render harmless.

Soap, for example, is a natural organic product that is inherently biodegradable.  The soapy grey water from a single household may biodegrade easily in a backyard, however, if that same soap went down a sewage line that fed into a waterway along with the soap used by a million or more residents that live along that waterway, there may be waves of soapsuds on the beaches, simply because more soap would be going into the waterway than it has microorganisms to biodegrade.

Those who have attempted to define biodegradable for product labels run into the same dilemma encountered when defining recyclable — should a product be called biodegradable if it inherently has the ability to biodegrade, or should it only be called biodegradable if it also is commonly disposed of in a way in which it really will biodegrade?  For example, should a paper grocery bag be labelled biodegradable?  It will biodegrade if placed in nature, however, it won’t biodegrade in a landfill because the conditions aren’t right.

OK so now we have opened another Pandora’s Box

All those wonderful new products on the super market shelf with beautiful pictures of nature and larger than life type font spelling “ECO” or “GREEN” So how eco-friendly or green are they really – is reference made to the contents or the packaging or the label? Makes one ponder the truthfulness vs. the greed of the manufacture or may just “bullshit baffles brains”

Here’s how long it takes for some commonly used products to biodegrade when they are scattered about as litter:

Cotton rags 1-5 months
Paper 2-5 months
Rope 3-14 months
Orange peels 6 months
Wool socks 1 to 5 years
Cigarette butts 1 to 12 years
Plastic coated paper milk cartons 5 years
Leather shoes 25 to 40 years
Nylon fabric 30 to 40 years
Plastic 6-pack holder Rings 450 years
Glass bottles 1 million years
Plastic bottles Forever

 

green2My take on this is:

GREEN and Chemical cannot be used in the same string of words – it’s an oxymoron

(An oxymoron (plural oxymoron’s, or sometimes the Greek plural oxymora) (from Greek ????????, “sharply dull”) is a figure of speech that combines normally contradictory terms)

Biodegradability can only be seen if it is directly related to something natural – if not it isn’t going to happen – well at least not in my lifetime and for that matter yours.

Q: Is there a clear definition of what constitutes “pollution?” Does this vary from state-to-state, region-to-region, country-to-country and who has the final word on what is or isn’t “pollution?”

A: An undesirable state of the natural environment being contaminated with harmful substances as a consequence of human activities

With all the above said it is my conclusion that Green Chemicals do not exist – it may be argued that some chemicals may be greenish because the have a lesser impact on the environment – but the fact of the matter is they are not green. If it is still argued that they are “Green” then are they greenish, are they less harmful to the environment that the previous model, are the sort of eco-friendly(ish) – you decide it after all it is your world.

Are Green Chemicals Biodegradable? They are not – have I not proven this?

Now all that needs to be said is – You need to look at Biologicals the clear replacement to chemicals as they are “Cleaner, Greener, Smarter, they do not pollute, they are biodegradable they cannot be constituted as a pollutant, the are not hazardous to man, beast or the environment they are derived from nature.

Biological is derived from Biology as a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy.

Managed Care Economical Solutions is one such organization that mainly deals in Biologicals and this is what we stand for:

Every product produced in the world today leaves a mark on the environment. This is known as its ecological footprint. A product’s ecological footprint starts with its design and continues through to its disposal and is such measured as being harmful or eco-friendly. At GREEN WORX we have associated ourselves with leaders in Biotechnology and Enzyme technology and it is our personal desire to strive to develop, market and sell products that are highly effective and efficient so that these may accomplish the various cleaning, hygiene, sanitation and waste treatment applications without compromising the environment. All the products that we market are exceptional high performance products leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible as can be attested by various environmentally concerned institutions in South Africa.

We achieve this by employing the simplistic yet complex principles of nature in developing effective biotechnology products that compensate for chemistry’s harshness on the environment and their weaknesses.

GREEN WORX’s main business principle is a commitment to adhere to strict environmental policies by producing eco-friendly quality products that meet our strict production policies for total quality. These fine qualities are also applicable when selecting international product partners.

Our social commitment is to lead by example and to bring about change to the industries we operate in and to the communities we serve.

Our ethical business practices and our commitment to producing environmentally safe and eco-friendly products allows us to strive for and to surpass the strict criteria required by various environmental certification organizations, allowing for the company to be an accredited “Green Business” and all of our products to be “Eco Choice Approved”.

Want to learn more visit my website www.green-worxcs.co.za