The Chair’s Welcome

The manufacture of chemicals is not only a major worldwide industry it has also been a major polluter of the environment either directly (e.g. waste from chemical processes escaping into the atmosphere or water) or indirectly (e.g. chemical fertilizers seeping into the water system). Research in the past two decades has shown that, in developed countries, the most important pollutants from chemical industries are not the untreated and unwanted waste water or emissions into the air but the products of chemical industries themselves.

As a consequence a new branch of chemistry has developed and gained momentum. This branch, called green and sustainable chemistry aims to educate those involved in the production and use of chemicals to preserve resources and improve the environment whilst offering the functionalities needed. Up to now the main focus has been on improvements in synthesis; i.e. the reduction of waste and energy demands as well as reductions in the amount of chemicals used. Research has shown that reduction in waste, energy and resources not only contributes to a more sustainable growth of industry in developing countries and also improves sustainability of the chemical industry. In addition to improvements in synthesis and issues directly linked to the chemicals themselves it also has been learned that sustainability issues throughout the life cycle of chemicals and other chemicals products should be taken into consideration. This holds not only for developed but also for developing countries.

Within the last decade numerous conferences that focused on the synthesis and product-related topics of green chemistry (and chemical engineering) have been established in Northern America, Asia and Europe. However, a broader conference is still missing. Therefore it seems timely to hold such a conference addressing a broader range of green and sustainability topics.

Another unique aspect of this conference is the Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. For this challenge proposals will be invited related to green and sustainable chemistry that can be directly applied to the developing world. Submitted proposals can be in the area of waste reduction, use of safer chemicals, energy efficiency, use of renewable feedstocks, biocatalysis, education and any other subject related to green and sustainable chemistry. It is important that the proposals are applicable and scalable for direct use in developing countries. Proposals will be reviewed by an international board of scientific experts and the winner will receive a significant monetary award. The five finalists will be invited to the conference to present their proposals to a panel of judges. From these the winners will be announced. Thereby the award should inspire new ideas and a significant contribution to sustainability brought forward by chemistry.

I look forward to meeting with you  in Germany’s exciting capital next May.

Yours sincerely,

Klaus Kümmerer
Director of the Institute for Sustainable and Environmental Chemistry
Leuphana University Lüneburg,