Green chemistry, also called sustainable chemistry, is a chemical philosophy encouraging the design of products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. Whereas environmental chemistry is the chemistry of the natural environment, and of pollutant chemicals in nature, green chemistry seeks to reduce and prevent pollution at its source. In 1990 the Pollution Prevention Act was passed in the United States. This act helped create a modus operandi for dealing with pollution in an original and innovative way. It aims to avoid problems before they happen.
As a chemical philosophy, green chemistry applies to organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and even physical chemistry. While green chemistry seems to focus on industrial applications, it does apply to any chemistry choice. Click chemistry is often cited as a style of chemical synthesis that is consistent with the goals of green chemistry. The focus is on minimizing the hazard and maximizing the efficiency of any chemical choice. It is distinct from environmental chemistry which focuses on chemical phenomena in the environment.
In 2005 Ryoji Noyori identified three key developments in green chemistry: use of supercritical carbon dioxide as green solvent, aqueous hydrogen peroxide for clean oxidations and the use of hydrogen in asymmetric synthesis. Examples of applied green chemistry are supercritical water oxidation, on water reactions and dry media reactions.
Bioengineering is also seen as a promising technique for achieving green chemistry goals. A number of important process chemicals can be synthesized in engineered organisms, such as shikimate, a Tamiflu precursor which is fermented by Roche in bacteria.
There is some debate as to whether green chemistry includes a consideration of economics, but by definition, if green chemistry is not applied, it cannot accomplish the reduction in the "use or generation of hazardous substances."