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Staples, HP, Kaiser Permanente Endorse Guide to Safer Chemicals
December 4, 2012
BizNGO this week released a guide to help manufacturers, retailers and purchasers track their progress towards using chemicals that are safer for human health and the environment.
The Guide to Safer Chemicals was released at the 7th annual meeting of BizNGO, a coalition formed in 2006 that includes businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities and government agencies.
The coalition says consumer confidence in a wide range of products is eroding due to scientific research linking exposure to chemicals of high concern in products to the increasing incidence of serious chronic health problems, including asthma, childhood cancers, infertility and learning and developmental disabilities.
The guide is intended to be a how-to resource for implementing the group’s Principles for Safer Chemicals, which are:
- Know and Disclose Product Chemistry: Companies need to know the chemicals in their products and supply chains and set goals to disclose this information to the public.
- Assess and Avoid Hazards: Once companies or suppliers know the chemicals in their products or processes, they evaluate them, identify chemicals of high concern, and implement programs to substitute chemicals of high concern with safer alternatives. Buyers work with suppliers to implement this principle.
- Commit to Continuous Improvement: Companies set goals and publicly report on their progress in achieving these goals, which includes endorsing the four BizNGO Principles and establishing a corporate chemicals policy.
- Support Public Policies and Industry Standards: Companies advance the implementation of the above principles in public policies and industry standards. Goals include: Publicly presenting their work on implementing the principles; Integrating implementation of the principles into industry standards and other voluntary initiatives; Collaborating with NGOs on implementing the principles; and Engaging in public policies — regulations and legislation — that support implementing the principles.
Some of the companies that have endorsed the BizNGO Principles include: Staples, Hewlett-Packard, Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Construction Specialties, Novation, Perkins+Will, Shaw Industries, Seventh Generation, Method and Premier. Some of the endorsing NGOs include: Health Care Without Harm, Center for Environmental Health, Breast Cancer Fund, Ecology Center, Clean Water Action, Clean Production Action, and Healthy Building Network.
“Today's business leaders recognize that comprehensive programs for safer chemicals are essential to innovation, informed decisions and clear communication with suppliers,” said Dr. Mark Rossi, Co-Chair of BizNGO and lead author of The Guide. “[C]ompanies from electronics manufacturers to retailers to health care providers are highly motivated to purchase inherently safer alternatives to chemicals of high concern,” said Rossi. “Such steps offer new market opportunities by positioning U.S. businesses to meet emerging global consumer demands and be far ahead of any regulation.”
Alternative assessments for chemicals of concern are becoming imperative as California and other states consider green chemistry legislation. Alison Gauthier last month wrote about the latest draft of California’s proposed Safer Consumer Products (SCP) legislation, and a multi-state initiative is working to provide standardized guidance to companies that want to produce greener, safer products.
@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.