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Rethinking chemistry for a circular economy

Earth is running out of resources needed for manufacturing materials such as chemicals, minerals, and petroleum. Thus, these components are available only at increasing economic and environmental costs. As an important contribution to a sustainable future, chemistry and its products must be adapted to a circular economy (CE)—a system aimed at eliminating waste, circulating and recycling products, and saving resources and the environment.

Nearly 140,000 industrial chemicals are marketed worldwide, and new chemicals are becoming more complex (e.g., stereochemistry, functional groups). Products of the chemical and allied industries contain mixtures of elements and molecules, and these products and their constituents are found everywhere, including in waste products, soils, water, air, plants, food, animals, and the human body.