Many regulated entities are faced with using, processing and tracking a variety of chemicals. Whether it is for Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) or air permitting, facilities are constantly faced with looking at Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to determine regulatory applicability and tracking emissions, waste generated or discharges. While asking what regulations apply to a specific chemical is very natural, an alternative approach may be to ask, how can my facility avoid this regulation by substituting a “greener” chemical? This is known as Green Chemistry. Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. Green chemistry applies across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture and use.
While this concept sounds nice, in practice it can be rather daunting. Many plant managers are neither chemists nor do they have the time or expertise to research alternatives. This is precisely why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked to provide resources to industries looking to reduce their regulatory burden through hazardous chemical reductions. Below are links to various resources to help evaluate your chemicals and see if less hazardous alternatives exist. Beyond these databases, it is a good practice to talk with your chemical suppliers or trade associations to learn about alternatives. After some investigations, industries may find that long-term regulatory reductions and improved work environments coupled with employee risk reductions can offset increased chemical costs.
- EPA Green Chemistry Incentives and Resources http://www.epa.gov/greenchemistry/
- MIT Green Chemical Alternatives Purchasing Wizard http://ehs.mit.edu/site/content/green-chemical-alternatives-purchasing-wizard
- Solvent Alternatives Guide (SAGE) http://infohouse.p2ric.org/ref/19/18161/es/index.cfm.htm
- Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center http://kppc.org/