Skip to main content

The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry


The Principles of Green Chemistry (see Anastas and Warner, Green Chemistry Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press, 1998) were created from a diverse set of practices and research that focused on reducing hazards and impacts at the design and process level when practicing chemical research and development. The set of principles encompass a holistic approach to thinking about how chemists approach their work. Each of the principles are not meant to be used in isolation – but, rather the collection of principles together guide chemists towards best practices in reducing hazards and impacts of their trade. The twelve principles are listed below.


Figure developed by MilliporeSigma and available through the GCTLC library here

1 Prevent Waste

It is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it is formed.


2 Atom Economy

Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.


3 Less Hazardous Synthesis

Wherever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.


4 Safer Chemicals

Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficacy of function while reducing toxicity.


5 Safer Solvents and Auxiliaries

The use of auxiliary substances (e.g. solvents, separation agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary wherever possible and, innocuous when used.


6 Energy Efficiency

Energy requirements should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. Synthetic methods should be conducted at ambient temperature and pressure.


7 Renewable Feedstocks

A raw material of feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting wherever technically and economically practicable.


8 Reduce Derivatives

Unnecessary derivatization (blocking group, protection/deprotection, and temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be avoided whenever possible.


9 Catalysis

Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.


10 Design for Degradation

Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they do not persist in the environment and break down into innocuous degradation products.


11 Real-Time Analysis for Pollution Prevention

Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time, in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.


12 Inherently Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention

Substances and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen so as to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions, and fires.