Incentives and Barriers to the Adoption of Sustainable Chemistry Policy Workshop

Sustainability is generally defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” While academia has engaged in research into sustainability, industry has been slower to adopt sustainable technologies. Why? This workshop sought to explore the various barriers that industries face as they seek to implement sustainable technologies and to identify policy decisions that can accelerate adoption of sustainable practices. A series of presentations, both oral and poster, were followed by a breakout session in which participants discussed the opportunities to influence decision-makers. The results of this workshop will impact the revision of the ACS policy statement on sustainability.


  • Identify policies to overcome non-technical barriers and create incentives to encourage sustainable practices and processes in the chemical and related industries.
  • Engage a cross-section of chemical and related industrial firms to explore what economic, social, regulatory, and other non-technical issues impede the adoption and implementation of more sustainable practices.
  • Sort, evaluate, and analyze the input received from participants to create a more comprehensive understanding of overarching non-technical challenges and opportunities.
  • Report to the ACS, AIChE and other organizations to enable CEI, CA and other committees to propose further actions to address the issues and impediments identified.
Sponsored by:

Policy Working Session

Marriott Convention Center, Room Blaine Kern A/B
Thursday 4/10/2008 8:00 AM-12 noon.

After opening remarks the participants divided into four discussion groups to address specific questions focused on the barriers to implementation of sustainable solutions.

Each group had a recorder and a discussion leader who later presented the conclusions of the group to the entire workshop.

Topics for break-out sessions:

Each group will be tasked with one topic or theme, as it relates to Barriers & Incentives for Sustainability:
Economic and Financial

Presentations and Poster Session

Regulation: Environmental, Health, Safety and Product Quality
Sustainability Education: professional development and education of students
Organizational and Cultural
Specific Questions Under Each Topic:
  • What do you think are the biggest barriers to implementing sustainable techniques, processes, and/or products?
    – For your company?
    – For other companies?
  • What sorts of policy changes are needed to eliminate barriers to sustainability?
    What sorts of policy changes are needed to provide incentives for sustainability?
    – Within companies
    – Within academia
    – By legislators and regulators
  • What is your current immediate concern about implementing a project or process that is using sustainable techniques?


Following the working session, AIChE Sustainable Engineering Forum held a lunch in the Convention Center, Room 298, from 12 noon to 1:30 pm with keynote speaker Dane Revette, Director of Energy Development for Louisiana. Participants in the Thursday morning workshop were invited to attend the luncheon as the guests of the AIChE SEF for their participation.

Background Reading:

The list below is extensive but ordered by decreasing priority, with particular emphasis on the first entry.

  1. Matus, Kira J.M., Paul T. Anastas, William C. Clark, and Kai Itameri-Kinter. “Overcoming the Challenges to the Implementation of Green Chemistry.” CID Working Paper No. 155. Center for International Development at Harvard University, December 2007.
  2. Doppelt, B. Leading Change Toward Sustainability: A Change-Management Guide for Business, Government & Civil Society , Greenleaf Publishing, 2003.
    Also see
  3. McDonough, W. Cradle-to-Cradle Case Studies.
  4. Rhode Island Hospitality Green Certification Self-Certification Workbook
  5. Nameroff, T.J., R.J. Garant, M.B. Albert, “Adoption of Green Chemistry: An Analysis Based on U.S. Patents.” Research Policy. September 2004, 33(6-7), pp.959-974.
  6. The Economist, January 7, 2008:
    A Change in Climate: The Greening of Corporate Responsibility.”
    A Stitch in Time: How Companies Manage Risks to their Reputation.”
    The Good Consumer: Buying Ethical is Not as Straightforward as It Seems.
  7. Documents submitted by The Dow Chemical Company to the California Green Chemistry Initiative ‘Conversation with California’:
    Life Cycle Analysis


    Consumer Choice

  8. Sustainability (and linked topics) within Wikipedia.

Creighton, S. H. Greening the Ivory Tower: Improving the Environmental Track Record of Universities, Colleges & Other Institutions. MIT Press. 1998.
(Also see