Use Renewable Feedstocks

by Sohani Goonetillake

Green Chemistry Principle #7

Green chemistry provides innovative solutions which strive to achieve sustainable chemical products which will have a positive economic, social and world-wide impact.

Green Chemistry Principle #7: Use of Renewable Feedstocks states that 'a raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depeleting whenever technically and economincally practicable'

Examples of renewable feedstocks include agricultural products or the wastes of other processes. Examples of depleting feedstocks include raw materials that are mined or generated from fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas or coal).

What are renewable feedstocks?

Currently mankind depends on fossil fuels, coal, oil, minerals and natural gas from the ground. Unfortunately, this dependency is not sustainable; for example, fossil fuels for carbon-based chemicals and materials are rapidly depleting. This impact on mankind and the environment is a significant issue and is becoming increasingly prominent. However, there is a way to combat this issue and that is through Green Chemistry Principle #7. This principle provides us will an alternative which will make future fuels, chemicals and materials come from feedstocks which will never run out (renewable feedstocks)

Example - How is it applied?

Advances have been made in the development of fuels, chemicals and materials from renewable feedstocks. These include but are not limited to: bioethanol and butanol from sugars and lignocellulose, foams and thermosets from lignin and plant oils, electronic materials from chicken feathers and, as shown below, biodiesel from plant oils and algae

Benefits of renewable feedstocks

  • Less waste
    Food waste can be used as a renewable feedstock
  • Less reliance on depleting resources
    Fossils fuels, coal etc are depleting rapidly and are not sustainable
  • Taking advantage of the sources we already have
    We have the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties (resourceful)
  • Be safe today and not burden future generations with unnecessary risk
    Our society is too careless about the world we leave for future generations
  • Have minimal or no negative environmental or social impact
    Reduces negative environmental and social impact by providing a solution to sustain our world