When we think of the environment, pollution and waste, we don’t usually think about chemistry. Yet chemistry is fundamental to the generation of pollution and waste, and hence so is the way we teach, learn and use it. 

This Environmental Science Series event focussed on the emerging practice of green chemistry – an increasingly coordinated effort by chemists all over the world to develop to environmentally friendly products that are cheap and easy to use. By applying green chemistry principles, scientists can create products in ways that reduce waste and harmful chemicals, use a great deal less energy, and demand less from our planet’s diminishing resources. 

Prof John Warner of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in the US, a leading expert and guest of Monash University, presented in Melbourne, exploring these issues. He was joined by Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist, Andrea Hinwood, talking about this revolutionary new approach to one of the world’s oldest disciplines. What does the future hold for more sustainable industrial practices, and just how soon might this future be coming? Professor Warner’s recent work in the fields of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, solar energy, and construction and paving materials are examples of how green chemistry principles can be immediately incorporated into commercially relevant applications. 

Speaker bio: Professor John Warner

The President and Chief Technology Officer of Warner Babcock Institute, Professor John Warner is the recipient of the 2014 Perkin Medal, widely acknowledged as the highest honour in American industrial chemistry, as well as the 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mentoring and the Council of Science Society President’s 2008 Leadership award. Recently named one of ‘25 Visionaries Changing the World’, he is one of the founders of the field of green chemistry and has published nearly 300 patents, papers and books. Professor Warner is an adjunct professor in the School of Chemistry at Monash University. 

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Reviewed 3 August 2020