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U.S. EPA honors San Diego company with Green Chemistry Award

Five winners recognized nationwide for innovative technologies that decrease hazardous chemicals, reduce costs, and spur economic growth

06/16/2020
Contact Information: 
Soledad Calvino (calvino.maria@epa.gov)
415-972-3512

SAN DIEGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the nationwide winners of the 2020 Green Chemistry Challenge Awards, including San Diego-based company Genomatica. Green chemistry refers to the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation and use of hazardous substances. This year’s winners have developed new and innovative green chemistry technologies that turn potential environmental challenges into business opportunities, spurring economic development.

“Small businesses are essential in ensuring a sustainable future for our country,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Genomatica’s innovative technology is a great example of a San Diego company encouraging us to do our best to protect the environment every day.”

Genomatica is being recognized for creating Brontide™, a new brand of 1,3-butylene glycol, commonly used in cosmetics for moisture retention and as a carrier for plant extracts. Butylene glycol is traditionally produced from fossil fuels. However, Brontide™ is produced by fermentation of renewable plant-based sugars using an engineered strain of E. coli in a one-step production process. 

"Innovation is at the heart of solving the challenges faced by our planet and our society. This award is another testament to the power of biotechnology as a force to reimagine and redesign carbon-based supply chains. It’s an incredible accomplishment for Genomatica scientists to bring home a ‘three-peat’ of the prestigious EPA award,” said Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling. “For myself and all our engineers and scientists, it’s personally meaningful to be nationally recognized for making a positive environmental impact. It reaffirms our passion and commitment to developing cleaner manufacturing processes that result in more sustainable ingredients for everyday products."

The additional 2020 winners and their innovative technologies are:

  • Merck, Rahway, New Jersey, for improving the process used to produce certain antiviral drugs used for the treatment of diseases including hepatitis C and HIV.
  • Johns Manville, Littleton, Colorado, for developing a biobased, formaldehyde-free thermoset binder for fiberglass reinforcement applications.
  • Professor Steven Skerlos, University of Michigan and Fusion Coolant Systems, for creating Pure-Cut™, an alternative to traditional metalworking fluids that uses high pressure carbon dioxide instead of oil-based lubricants.
  • Vestaron, Kalamazoo, Michigan, for producing a new biopesticide called Spear®.

“We congratulate these industrial pioneers and leading scientists on their remarkable technologies,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “These innovations will help American businesses by reducing costs and opening up new markets for more environmentally friendly products and services.”

EPA plans to recognize the winners at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., later this year. This year’s awards have special meaning as 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Pollution Prevention Act, which focuses industry, government, and public attention on reducing the amount of pollution through cost-effective changes in production, operation, and raw materials use. Green chemistry and pollution prevention work hand in hand to stop pollution at its source, resulting in less waste, economic growth, and protection of public health. 

During the 24 years of the Green Chemistry Awards program, EPA and the American Chemical Society, which co-sponsor the awards, have received more than 1,600 nominations and presented awards to over 120 technologies that decrease hazardous chemicals and resources, reduce costs, protect public health and spur economic growth. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of hundreds of millions of pounds of hazardous chemicals and saving billions of gallons of water and trillions of BTUs in energy.

An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2020 submissions and made recommendations to EPA for the 2020 winners.

For more information, please visit: www.epa.gov/greenchemistry.

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