September 10, 2012
Publication:
Environmental Science & Technology

This paper investigates the conditions under which firms are able to develop and implement innovations with sustainable development benefits. In particular, we examine “green chemistry” innovations in the United States. Via interviews with green chemistry leaders from industry, academia, nongovernmental institutions (NGOs), and government, we identified six major categories of challenges commonly confronted by innovators: (1) economic and financial, (2) regulatory, (3) technical, (4) organizational, (5) cultural, and (6) definition and metrics. Further analysis of these barriers shows that in the United States, two elements of these that are particular to the implementation of green chemistry innovations are the absence of clear definitions and metrics for use by researchers and decision makers, as well as the interdisciplinary demands of these innovations on researchers and management. Finally, we conclude with some of the strategies that have been successful thus far in overcoming these barriers, and the types of policies which could have positive impacts moving forward.