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Green and safer product chemistry is formulating or designing a new product (or reformulating an existing one) to reduce harmful environmental, workplace, human health, and energy use effects over the product's entire life cycle. A product's life cycle includes design and manufacture, sourcing and production of material and energy inputs, end use, end-of-life recovery, and all packaging and transportation between these steps.

Product chemistry should take into account green and sustainable chemistry and green engineering principles, which include preventive approaches, designing out toxicological effects (including at the molecular level), energy and water consumption during production and use, and recyclability.

Green chemistry and design represents a high-level commitment to pollution prevention. It's more common for product makers to reduce pollution in the manufacturing process than to redesign the products themselves. But the product design stage is critical to reducing a product's environmental impact. Learn more:

From products to the environment

Some 90% of the products we use contain one or more chemicals, such as paints, dyes, fragrances, lubricants, germ-killers, preservatives, cleaners, adhesives, solvents, water and stain repellents, or flame retardants. Many of these find their way into our environment and our bodies, where they can disrupt ecosystems and health. Learn more:

Through the Chemicals in Products Interagency Team, the MPCA partners with the Minnesota Departments of Commerce and Health to:

  • monitor chemical hazards in products and the environment
  • educate residents and businesses about chemical hazards and how to avoid them
  • accelerate the development and use of safer alternatives

Green and safer product chemistry grants

Summer internship grants

The MPCA’s program offering summer internship grants to Minnesota businesses that advance green chemistry and engineering practices has merged with the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) summer internships program.

MnTAP has selected a host company – Niron Magnetics in Minneapolis – and is now accepting intern applications. Candidates can review information on the project and how to apply.

MnTAP’s internship program works with organizations focused on manufacturing process improvement and the reduction of solid and hazardous waste, wastewater discharges, air emissions, and use of water and energy. The merged programs will retain the MPCA’s basic goals of supporting sustainable chemistry in products or the processes used to make products.

From its start in the mid-1980s, MnTAP’s internship program has grown to support 17 interns in 2023. Interns are often junior or senior undergraduates in chemistry, engineering, or related technical fields. They commit to about 500 hours at the host company over the summer months. MnTAP or MPCA funds underwrite most of the host’s labor cost.

Grants from the merged program can support interns working on a variety of projects, including:

  • development and performance testing of alternative materials or formulations
  • assessment of the life-cycle safety and supply of alternative materials in products or manufacturing processes
  • upstream investigation to find the source of undisclosed toxic chemicals, whether in manufacturing supply chains or in wastewater treatment systems

For more information on the internship program and past projects, how host sites with a possible project may engage or apply, and how intern candidates may apply, visit MnTAP’s internship page at

Previous internship grant recipients

St. Paul-based Claros Technologies is developing novel methods to capture and detoxify per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a notoriously difficult-to-treat class of chemicals. Claros hired a recent graduate of Macalester College to assist with the work.

Sasya, also based in St. Paul, hired a University of Minnesota doctoral candidate in biochemistry through the internship program to help develop fermentation biocatalysts that convert feedstocks into nutritional supplements for livestock. The company was working to create a process that will displace petroleum derivatives and energy-intensive catalysis, use sustainable resources, and generate no byproducts.

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College curriculum grants

The MPCA occasionally offers grants for development of green chemistry and design curricula at post-secondary institutions in Minnesota. The grants also help strengthen Minnesota and national networks of post-secondary faculty teaching green chemistry principles.

The MPCA recently awarded Augsburg University more than $14,000 for a project to be completed by mid-2023. Project goals include developing new green chemistry materials for introductory courses and a new green chemistry course, culminating in a new green chemistry and toxicology curriculum.

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