California just lately banned using PFAS in kids’s merchandise and disposable meals packaging, and set new necessities for cookware producers to reveal the presence of those poisonous “eternally chemical substances,” on merchandise and labels. Maine handed laws to ban most makes use of of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) by 2030, besides when their use is important for well being and security or alternate options aren’t accessible. Shortly afterwards, the Biden administration introduced a “entire of presidency” method to regulating PFAS, main some to foretell a coming wave of litigation.
Corporations that know what chemical substances are getting used to make the merchandise they purchase or manufacture are finest positioned to reply to such regulatory dangers — to not point out exploding shopper concern in regards to the well being and security of the merchandise they devour. But few firms truly know whether or not their merchandise include chemical substances of excessive concern to human well being or the atmosphere (CoHCs, for brief), resembling PFAS.
There are notable exceptions. Beautycounter, Herman Miller, HP, Humanscale, Naturepedic, Reckitt Benckiser and Seventh Technology, for instance, all proactively handle their chemical dangers.
These firms acquired high scores within the Chemical Footprint Challenge’s fifth annual survey of chemical substances administration practices. All scored increased than 80 out of 100 potential factors, properly above the typical 54 factors for different firms collaborating within the survey, which evaluates firm efficiency in 4 key areas: administration technique; chemical stock; footprint measurement; and disclosure and verification.
Walmart was the primary U.S. retailer to announce a time-bound chemical discount aim.
These entrance runners are remarkably numerous, exhibiting that proactive chemical administration is achievable, whether or not you’re small or giant, a publicly traded or privately owned firm, or whether or not you produce constructing supplies or private care merchandise.
Corporations embarking on the Chemical Footprint journey observe the same trajectory: they develop their administration technique for transferring past regulatory compliance to safer alternate options; they stock their chemical substances, create restricted substances lists (RSLs), assess their footprint, and final publicly disclose their actions. The determine under depicts that trajectory. Every bar represents an organization collaborating within the survey.
Entrance runners are deep into this journey. They’re hitting the mark in all 4 classes. Listed below are some key practices of those entrance runners.
Boards and senior administration are engaged
Entrance runners are much more probably than different survey responders to have accountability on the highest ranges of the corporate. For instance, front-runners typically supply monetary incentives for senior administration to fulfill company sustainability objectives, together with lowering using CoHCs. Main firms additionally interact their boards on the implementation of their chemical substances insurance policies. Such help on the highest ranges is vital for sustaining focus and motion on lowering chemical footprints within the face of competing company calls for.
HP, for instance, commits to integrating its rules for supplies and chemical substances administration into its enterprise operations. This consists of conducting assessments, defining efficiency objectives and metrics, reviewing outcomes with senior administration often and publicly reporting on its continuous enchancment in areas lined by this coverage.
Chemical footprints are measured — and lowered
Inventorying the chemical substances utilized in an organization’s operations and provide chains is the primary key step to evaluating an organization’s use of CoHCs, chemical substances with wide-ranging well being impacts resembling carcinogenicity, reproductive or developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, acute toxicity and neurotoxicity.
The Chemical Footprint evaluation takes issues a step additional by summing the overall quantity of COHCs by mass that an organization makes use of. That means an organization can benchmark its progress at lowering, and finally eliminating, its use of dangerous substances.
Walmart, for example, was the primary U.S. retailer to announce a time-bound chemical discount aim, committing to scale back by 2022 its footprint of “precedence chemical substances” in formulated consumables by 10 p.c compared to its 2017 baseline of 216 million kilos. Walmart tracks each its whole footprint and its “normalized” footprint, or kilos of precedence chemical substances as a p.c of whole chemical substances. The normalized footprint permits the corporate to trace progress no matter modifications in whole stock.
Entrance-runners explicitly incorporate using safer alternate options into their hazard discount methods.
All of the front-runners within the fifth annual survey have calculated their footprint by mass of CoHCs or had no CoHCs in merchandise. The Chemical Footprint Challenge classifies over 2,200 chemical substances and chemical lessons as CoHCs primarily based on the Worldwide Company for Analysis on Most cancers, the U.S. Nationwide Institutes of Well being and dozens of different authoritative establishments.
Safer alternate options are prioritized
Proactively and systematically looking for safer alternate options to exchange CoHCs lessens the danger of a “regrettable substitute,” one which seems to be of equal or better concern to human well being or the atmosphere. For instance, many firms changed hazardous polystyrene meals clamshells with fiber-based meals clamshells, which they later discovered contained hazardous PFAS. As a result of the businesses didn’t totally examine chemical components and related hazards with their choice of another, they selected a regrettable substitute.
Entrance-runners explicitly incorporate using safer alternate options into their hazard discount methods by together with a desire for safer alternate options of their chemical substances coverage, integrating the factors for safer alternate options into their enterprise practices or rewarding suppliers for utilizing safer alternate options.
Beautycounter, for instance, stories that it omits near 2,000 questionable components in its formulations which can be presently used within the trade (The By no means Listing) and makes use of extra sustainable components which were screened by its security and sustainability specialists.Additional, it has created 12 security requirements that it requires its method and manufacturing companions to observe.
GOJO’s Sustainable Product Innovation Coverage states that it identifies and reduces using chemical substances of concern and works to exchange them with safer alternate options. The coverage additionally states that GOJO will select suppliers who present finest worth, which incorporates prioritizing sustainability and actively supporting GOJO’s goals and objectives.
Main firms are prepared to publicly disclose their chemical substances administration insurance policies and practices.
Many entrance runners in our 2020 survey dedicated to reveal their Restricted Substances Listmanufacturing RSL (MRSL) and their 2020 Chemical Footprint Survey responses and rating. Prime disclosing firms embrace: Beckton Dickinson & Co, Beautycounter, GOJO Industries, Herman Miller, HP, Naturepedic, Seventh Technology and Walmart.
Important chemical substances administration insurance policies and practices go unshared with the general public.
Seventh Technology goes additional and publishes an components glossary to tell customers in regards to the chemical substances it makes use of in its merchandise. Reckitt Benckiser equally reported in 2020 that three-fourths of its income comes from merchandise with one hundred pc transparency in labeling.
For a lot of firms, nonetheless, disclosure stays a problem. The 2020 CFP Survey outcomes revealed that vital chemical substances administration insurance policies and practices go unshared with the general public. For instance, of all the businesses that responded to the survey, 78 p.c had a discount aim for CoHCs, however solely 44 p.c shared the aim with the general public.
Whereas we spotlight practices of modern firms, we commend all 33 firms that reported to Clear Manufacturing Motion’s 2020 Chemical Footprint Survey for embarking on the journey to safer chemical substances and welcome the 9 new firms that participated within the survey for the primary time in 2020.
We encourage different firms to know the chemical substances they use or promote, after which systematically cut back their chemical footprints. The Chemical Footprint Challenge supplies a sensible framework for carrying out this process — and in so doing, staying forward of regulatory necessities and shopper and investor demand.