The mission of the Center for Sustainable Polymers (CSP) is to transform how plastics are made and unmade through innovative research, engaging education, and diverse partnerships that together foster environmental stewardship.
CSP participants aim to design, prepare, and implement polymers derived from renewable resources for a wide range of advanced applications, and to promote future economic development, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability in the emergent area of biobased products.
The Center for Sustainable Polymers pursues basic polymer science research aimed at developing new, practical chemistries, polymers, processes, and technologies that embrace sustainability. We carry out our research stressing the principles of green chemistry to help protect the environment and ensure that future generations will be able to meet their societal needs.
Nearly all synthetic chemicals and materials are derived from crude oil. To wean ourselves from such "petroleocentric" economics, technology, and products, we must develop alternatives based on renewable resources as a means toward a sustainable future. For example, all common plastics have their origins in petroleum. While ubiquitous materials such as polyethylene and polystyrene are tremendously useful in, for example, automotive, packaging, and construction applications, non-renewable feedstocks render production of these materials unsustainable. The challenge of sustainability is to "meet human needs while preserving the earth's life support systems"1 and implementation of this "create without destroying" philosophy has reached paramount importance in national and global planning. Such sustainable polymers or "green materials" can be durable or degradable, can be used in applications from adhesives to packaging to building materials, and can be produced efficiently and economically with low environmental impact. These are the materials of tomorrow.
(1) There are many definitions of "sustainability" and "sustainable development". For a recent and pertinent discussion, see: Holdren, J. P., "Science and technology for sustainable well being," Science 2008, 319, 424-434."