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Research Project: Development of Novel Cottonseed Products and Processes

Location: Commodity Utilization Research

Title: Sustainability and green polymer chemistry – an overview

item Cheng, Huai
item GROSS, RICHARD - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Submitted to: ACS Symposium Series
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2020
Publication Date: 12/2/2020
Citation: Cheng, H.N., Gross, R.A. 2020. Sustainability and green polymer chemistry – an overview. In: Cheng, H.N., Gross, R.A., editors. Sustainability & Green Polymer Chemistry Volume 1: Green Products and Processes. ACS Symposium Series, Vol. 1372. Washington, DC:American Chemical Society. 1372:1-11.

Interpretive Summary: Sustainability entails the management of natural resources, environmental protection, reduction in waste, and avoidance of hazardous materials in order to ensure that future generations of humanity can continue to enjoy an acceptable quality of life on earth. This topic has gotten extra urgency in view of the current drive by the United Nations to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Green polymer chemistry represents an excellent opportunity to contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs. In this article, current research and development (R&D) activities in green polymer chemistry are summarized in terms of three categories, and examples are given in this article to illustrate how the various approaches fit in the overall picture. This article also serves as an introductory chapter to the ACS book on “Green Polymer Chemistry and Sustainability.” Hopefully it will be useful to scientists, engineers, and students who are engaged in the R&D of green polymer chemistry and sustainability.

Technical Abstract: With increasing public awareness of climate change, environmental pollution, and earth’s declining resources, sustainability and green chemistry have become hot topics these days. In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be achieved in 2030. As polymers are being used all around us, they play a major role in the achievement of these goals. In this article, an overview is provided of selected polymer research areas that are related to sustainability. For our purposes, these can be grouped into three categories: 1) Approaches that can minimize polymer waste, such as use of agro-based materials, recycling of polymer waste, design of more easily degradable or recyclable polymers, and minimization of polymer use; 2) Improved polymer processes that entail reduced cost and energy, atom economy, reaction efficiency, and toxicity reduction; 3) Use and design of polymers that can facilitate the achievement of other SDG. Examples of these approaches can be seen from the chapters of this book. In view of the active and continuing interest in this field, we can expect to see continued R&D and commercial activities relating to these approaches in the future.