Monday, May 24, 2010

Green chemistry gains another proponent in California

Green chemistry has been a hot topic in the last few years, with California, the EPA, the EU, and others pushing to encourage safer, more health and environmentally friendly, and sustainable chemicals. Toward this end, last week saw the formal opening of the Green Products Innovation Institute (GPII) in San Francisco, a non-profit organization founded to promote the cradle-to-cradle (C2C) concept.

The idea of C2C was first developed by architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. The process looks at the entire life cycle of a product, from its initial extraction from virgin ore to its disposal, or actually, to its reuse or recycling. From their web site,

The Green Products Innovation Institute (GPII) is a non-profit organization created to bring about a large scale transformation in the way we make the things we make.

Rather than focusing on how industry can become "less bad," the GPII is set up to be a resource for those who aspire to do "more good". We promote an innovation-oriented model for eliminating toxic chemicals and other negative environmental impacts. The GPII prescribes a set of design principles, based on the laws of nature, to help businesses create products that are safe for people and the environment. This rethinking of how we design, manufacture, use and reuse materials will spur a new era of innovation, simultaneously driving economic, ecological and social prosperity.

GPII plans to work with academia, NGOs, government, and industry to establish a product rating system. Products meeting the criteria will receive a C2C certification mark.

While the founders hope to expand internationally, locating the headquarters in California is no accident as the state has been working to implement a green chemistry philosophy. Indeed, Governor Schwarzenegger attended the opening and reiterated GPII's mantra that the "time is now for us to go beyond simply being 'less bad' and to lead the world in the invention and innovation of 'more good,' which he sees as a way to a "prosperous Cradle-to-Cradle economy."

Initially, funding of GPII is from private donations from organizations and individuals, but once established they expect to be funded through training and product registration fees.

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