wide business in a way that brings the greatest benefit to all of our stakeholders (employees, customers, investors, communities) and builds a sustainable future for generations to come,

One of the ways in which Lyondell says they work toward achieving these goals is by: “Investing in product and service innovations that use natural resources, as well as social and financial resources, in an efficient, effective, and economic manner over the long-term.” Achieving such goals in the business world, including the chemical industry, is often referred to as the “triple bottom line.”7 Many chemical companies are now even part of investment indexes such as FTSE4Good and the Dow Jones sustainability indexes that seek to raise business standards and investor awareness by tracking the financial performance of leading sustainability-driven companies.

However, the trend toward decreasing or at least flat research and development spending by the top 50 chemical companies and in industry as a whole8 (Figure 1.1) makes it difficult to advance the science and technology needed to support such sustainability goals. Going forward, the chemical industry is faced with a major conundrum—the need to be sustainable, a desire to support science and technological innovation, and a lacking investment in fundamental research and development to make it all possible.

Despite these overall conditions, many companies are making the extra effort to advance sustainability goals. Pharmaceutical companies in particular have been quite successful. In 2002, prescription and over the counter drug companies invested more than $32 billion in discovering and developing new medicines, marking the thirty-second straight year the industry has increased its investment in R&D.9 As part of this effort, many companies are turning to green chemistry—“the design, development, and implementation of chemical processes and manufactured products to reduce or eliminate substances hazardous to human health and the environment”10—and applying the twelve principles11 (Box 1.1) to redesign their active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing processes. In this way, they have been able to dramatically reduce wastes generated. This success is highlight by the fact that five of the 52 winners


Elkington, J. 1997. In Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. Oxford: Capstone Publishing.


NSF (National Science Foundation) InfoBrief (NSF 04-320). May, 2004. Largest Single-Year Decline in U.S. Industrial R&D Expenditures. Reported for 2002.


See the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America web site: www.phrma.org


Anastas, P. T., and J. Warner. 1998. Green Chemistry Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Poliakoff, M., J. M. Fitzpatrick, T. R. Farren, and P. T. Anastas. 2002. Green Chemistry: Science and Politics of Change. Science 297:807–810.

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