Used in everything from household items such as toothpaste and detergents to high-tech applications like electric vehicles and wind turbines, chemicals play an integral role in our lives. In fact, chemicals are present in 95 percent of manufactured goods.
Because of that, chemicals will play a crucial role in producing technologies and solutions to create a carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and circular society. But to get there, we need a generation of scientists trained in the principles of green and sustainable chemistry. That’s why Dow is joining the non-profit Beyond Benign to help ensure 25% of graduating U.S. chemists have a background in green chemistry by 2025.
Beyond Benign’s 25X25 initiative is part of its Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC). The GCC is dedicated to integrating green chemistry and toxicology concepts into chemistry programs with the goal of providing students with the skills to design chemical products and processes that reduce human and environmental hazards.
“Chemistry and materials science companies design the building blocks of all the products around us,” said Amy Cannon, Beyond Benign’s Director and co-founder. “By supporting Beyond Benign’s Green Chemistry Commitment, Dow is demonstrating the importance of green chemistry skills and knowledge for their incoming workforce to enable the design of safer products and materials.”
Beyond Benign will provide resources and support to higher education institutions, including program assessments and recommended labs and curriculum. Dow is contributing volunteer time and corporate sustainability expertise to engage academic stakeholders in companywide goals, as well as financial support. Dow also recently launched the Green Chemistry Education Challenge Awards, which are designed to accelerate the adoption of green chemistry at Dow’s academic partner institutions in the Chemistry and Engineering departments.
Green chemistry, or sustainable chemistry, involves creation on the molecular level. Besides designing safer chemicals, the principles of green chemistry also include minimizing energy use, preventing waste and using renewable feedstocks. These skills can help society meet its sustainability goals, such as reducing carbon footprints and reducing the amount of waste or harmful matter in the environment.
“Green chemistry is an opportunity to introduce innovative solutions to chemical problems that can help solve our world’s sustainability problems,” said Eunice Heath, Dow’s corporate director of sustainability. “Our partnership with Beyond Benign aligns with our ‘Safer Materials for a Sustainable Planet’ goal by ensuring our incoming workforce is prepared to design sustainable materials for the marketplace.”
Currently Beyond Benign’s GCC program includes signers from approximately 70 institutions reaching more than 1,300 faculty members who are united around a shared vision to:
Since 2007, Beyond Benign has integrated green chemistry into K-12 and higher education institutions through teacher training, lesson plans, community networks, webinars, and events.