Everyone in the chemical fraternity, especially the pharmaceutical industry, is talking about Green chemistry and its allied principles. Now, what exactly is this Green Chemistry? Green Chemistry, to put in simple ways, is the science of inventing sustainable products and processes to create safe, non-toxic materials for sustainable society. Green Chemistry focuses on innovation and creativity through chemistry.
So how can one determine if one method of making a product is better than the other? There are a number of ways to determine this and one such metric is called the E-factor or the Environmental Impact Factor. E-Factor is the measure of the waste generated while making a particular product. Lower the E-factor, lesser the waste produced. E-factor is a measure of the quantity of waste produced in making a product, compared to the amount of useful material obtained (the product). The E-factor calculation is defined by the ratio of the mass of waste per unit of product:
E-Factor = Total Waste (kg) / Product (kg)
The concept of E-factor has been there for more than fifteen years, which played a major role in focusing the attention of the chemical industry word-wide, on the problem of waste generation in chemicals manufacture. Dated back in 1980s the concept still provides the impetus for developing cleaner and more sustainable processes.
The principles of Green Chemistry direct us to reduce waste rather than dealing with it after creating waste. As we all know, it is always better when zero waste is produced. All the materials that were used initially for the manufacturing of a product should be used in the final product or they should be recycled. In this case the E-factor is zero – “The Goal is Zero”.