2009 welcomes green chems

The incoming year could be a big year for Green chemistry. US president-elect Obama promises to boost the green energy market while industry talks of more chemical restriction from Congress will also boost development of alternative “green” chemicals. Another major development is California’s Green Chemistry Initiative where the state has already jumpstarted its rule-making process to restrict certain chemicals and increase development for green chemicals. California also adopted the first statewide green building standards in the US which will become mandatory in 2010.

My 2008 prediction of more chemical restriction has taken place. Phthalates in certain kids’ products will soon be banned under the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act in the US. Norway bannedthe flame retardant deca-BDE in April while Canada bans polycarbonate baby bottles with bisphenol-A. European Union’s Reach (registration, evaluation, authorization of chemicals) is ongoing although there seems to be trouble implementing that regulation.

Another prediction that took place (yes, I’m already patting myself on the back) is the record clean tech investment this year despite global recession that started in the second half of the year. I am predicting that more clean tech investments will take place in 2009.

Plastic bag and water bottle bans will continue plaguing the chemical industry just as what happened this year, while PVC, BPA and phthalates will still be a big issue for consumer advocates. California, by the way, is also proposing to ban polystyrene food containers.

The chemical industry overall might be in the slump right now but I don’t think R&D on green chemicals/product innovation will slow down. In fact, green innovation might speed up in 2009 as this is one way to boost demand from their customers. We will see if I’m right (or wrong) in the second half of next year.

Finally, climate change will still be at the center of debate and regulatory policies worldwide. The world might be in recession but if (heaven forbid) another natural calamity struck, you can bet environmental groups and some scientists will blame it on global warming.

Here’s a nice video to wish you all a Happy Green New Year!

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