The Eastman Chemical Company has won one of the U.S. government’s top environmental awards for its green biocatalytic innovation that eliminates high temperatures and strong acids from cosmetic ingredient processing.

The 2009 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award, presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of the White House, recognizes technologies that incorporate the principles of green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use.

The Eastman green biocatalytic process uses enzymes and closely controlled conditions to make esters, eliminating the high temperature and strong acids traditionally required in their manufacture. Eastman says its process consumes less energy, uses no solvents and virtually eliminates by-products, reducing the number of processing steps required for manufacture.

The cosmetic and personal care industry in North America annually consumes an estimated 50,000 metric tons of esters for a variety of uses including emollients, emulsifiers, and specialty performance ingredients.