Sustainable Chemistry

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Definition & Statement

Sustainable chemistry is the design, manufacture, and use of environmentally benign chemical products and processes that prevent pollution, reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous waste, and reduce risk to human health and the environment. OECD, 1999

The first OECD Workshop on Sustainable Chemistry was held in Venice, 15-17 October 1998. This initiative was born under the impetus of the USA, Japan, Germany and Italy Delegations at OECD headquarters in Paris.

OECD Definition of Sustainable Chemistry – see p. 204

The Proceedings are published in 3 parts, in the OECD Environmental Health and Safety Publications – Series on Risk Management No. 10. Links to OECD:

  • Proceedings of the OECD Workshop on Sustainable Chemistry – PART 1 (PDF, pp. 1-72)
  • PART 2 (PDF, pp. 73-176)
  • PART 3 (PDF, pp. 177-281) ; page 204 provides the definition of Sustainable Chemistry adopted by OECD and by way of example, cites types of sustainable chemistry activities: e.g. Use of Alternative Feedstocks, Use of Innocuous Reagents, Employing Natural Processes, Use of Alternative Solvents,  Design of Safer Chemicals,  Developing Alternative Reaction Conditions, or Minimizing Energy Consumption. (ENV/JM/MONO(99)19/PART3, OECD REPORT OF THE SURVEY ON SUSTAINABLE CHEMISTRY ACTIVITIES;  This report, prepared by the US EPA, presents a summary of the results of a survey conducted by the OECD Risk Management Program in spring 1998 to gather information from OECD governments and industry on sustainable chemistry activities.)


The definition of Green Chemistry adopted by IUPAC in 2000 is closely related and was published in the Introduction Overview of the first PAC Special Topic Issue on Green Chemistry in July 2000:

Green chemistry is defined by IUPAC as follows:
“The invention, design, and application of chemical products and processes to reduce or to eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances” (Pure Appl. Chem., 2000, Vol. 72, No. 7, pp. 1207–1228).


ICGCSD Statement

In 2017, the IUPAC International Committee on Green Chemistry for Sustainable Development (ICGCSD) was established to assist in advancing the objectives set out in the Strategic Plan adopted in 2015 and to initiate, promote, and coordinate the work of the Union in the area of green and sustainable chemistry.
SEE Statement from ICGCSD Chair (PDF), Feb 2020