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Green Chemistry Challenge Eligibility and Scope

To be eligible for an award, a nominated technology must meet the scope of the Green Chemistry Challenge Program by meeting each of these six criteria:

  1. It must be a green chemistry technology with a significant chemistry component.
  2. It must include source reduction.
  3. It must be submitted by an eligible organization or its representative(s).
  4. It must have a significant milestone in its development within the past five years.
  5. It must have a significant U.S. component.
  6. It must fit within at least one of the three focus areas of the program.

If you have a question about whether your technology meets the scope of the program, please email us at or call (202) 564-8849.

1. Green Chemistry Technologies

Green chemistry technologies are extremely diverse. As a group, they…

  • Improve upon all chemical products and processes by reducing negative impacts on human health and the environment relative to competing technologies
  • Include all chemical processes: synthesis, catalysis, reaction conditions, separations, analysis, and monitoring
  • Make incremental improvements at any stage of a chemical’s lifecycle, for example, substituting a greener feedstock, reagent, catalyst, or solvent in an existing synthetic pathway
  • May substitute a single improved product or an entire synthetic pathway
  • Benefit human health and the environment at any point of the technology’s lifecycle: extraction, synthesis, use, and ultimate fate
  • Incorporate green chemistry at the earliest design stages of a new product or process
  • Contain a significant amount of chemistry, although they may also incorporate green engineering practices

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2. Source Reduction

For this program, EPA defines green chemistry as the use of chemistry for source reduction. Chemical technologies that include recycling, treatment, or disposal may meet the scope of the program if they offer source reduction over competing technologies. Read how green chemistry differs from cleaning up pollution (remediation).

3. Eligible Organizations

  • Companies (including academic institutions and other nonprofit organizations) and their representatives are eligible for Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for outstanding or innovative source reduction technologies.
  • Public academic institutions, such as state and tribal universities and their representatives, are eligible for Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for technologies that prevent, reduce, or eliminate air or water pollution or the adverse health effects of solid waste entering into the waste stream.
  • Members of the Federal government, including U.S. departments, agencies, and laboratories are NOT eligible to receive this award.

4. Significant Milestone

A green chemistry technology must have reached a significant milestone within the past five years. Some examples are: critical discovery made, results published, patent application submitted or approved, pilot plant constructed, and relevant regulatory review (e.g., by EPA under TSCA, FIFRA, or CAA; by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under FFDCA) initiated or completed, and technology implemented or launched commercially.

5. Significant U.S. Component

A significant amount of the research, development, or other aspects of the technology must have occurred within the United States. If the only aspect of the technology within the United States is product sales, the technology may not meet the scope of the program.

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6. Focus Areas of the Green Chemistry Challenge

Green chemistry technologies fit into at least one of the three focus areas below. Technologies that do not fit within at least one focus area may not fall within the scope of the program.

Focus Area 1: Greener Synthetic Pathways

This focus area involves designing and implementing a novel, green pathway to produce a new or existing chemical substance.

Examples include synthetic pathways that:

  • Use greener feedstocks that are innocuous or renewable (e.g., biomass, triglycerides)
  • Use novel reagents or catalysts, including biocatalysts and microorganisms
  • Use natural processes, such as fermentation or biomimetic syntheses
  • Are atom-economical
  • Are convergent syntheses

Focus Area 2: Greener Reaction Conditions

This focus area involves improving conditions other than the overall design or redesign of a synthesis. Greener analytical methods often fall within this focus area.

Examples include reaction conditions that:

  • Replace hazardous solvents with solvents that have less impact on human health and the environment
  • Use solventless reaction conditions and solid-state reactions
  • Use novel processing methods that prevent pollution at its source
  • Eliminate energy- or material-intensive separation and purification steps
  • Improve energy efficiency, including reactions running closer to ambient conditions
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Focus Area 3: The Design of Greener Chemicals

This focus area involves designing and implementing chemical products that replace more hazardous products.

Examples include chemical products that are:

  • Less toxic than current products
  • Inherently safer because they reduce the likelihood or severity of accidents
  • Recyclable or biodegradable after use
  • Safer for the atmosphere (e.g., do not deplete ozone, form smog, or contribute to climate change)

View the 2021 nomination package.

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