Green chemistry and Oregon is a perfect partnership

Colin Price, Oregon Environmental Council

Colin Price is the research director at Oregon Environmental Council, a statewide non-profit dedicated to advancing innovative, collaborative solutions to Oregon’s environmental challenges for today and future generations. Learn more at www.oeconline.org.

If you were scanning the business news earlier this month looking for signs Oregon might be poised to emerge from its economic slump, one item should have leaped off the page: An Oregon green chemistry center being awarded $20 million in federal funding to help train its students as the next generation of entrepreneurs.

What exactly is green chemistry and why the multi-million dollar investment from the National Science Foundation? Green chemistry is the process of designing and manufacturing products to be safer and more efficient from square one. This type of investment illustrates the strength of our researchers, their collaboration and the growing recognition that green chemistry creates significant benefits for our economy and communities.

Leading businesses from key industries in Oregon have already implemented, or are actively seeking, more sustainable chemicals, materials and products. You can’t fulfill a pledge to eliminate hazardous chemicals from your supply chain within the next decade, as local giants Nike and Adidas did this summer, without using green chemistry and engineering.

In these turbulent economic times when businesses are looking for the next big wave to ride toward prosperity, green chemistry is an attractive bet, in part because so many of its components for success already exist right here in Oregon. A recent Portland State University report makes the case that the state is uniquely positioned to be a leader in developing safer chemicals, with two local university research centers currently working on green nanotechnology, energy and building practices.

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