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Making the Business & Economic Case for Safer Chemistry

The research included interviews with 17 industry experts, as well as a review of literature and available data on the business and economic opportunities achievable through safer chemistry and the business and economic value at risk from not adopting safer chemistry.

Market growth, capital flows and market demand show upward trajectories during the past 5 years. Large corporations (such as Dow, DuPont or SigmaAldrich) have higher sales growth of broadly defined “green chemistry” product portfolios, as compared to sales of conventional chemistry. Smaller companies whose value proposition is based on safer chemistry (such as Seventh Generation or Method) have demonstrated continued growth. The research also identified examples of sizeable business risks posed by traditional chemistry that safer chemistry could alleviate. Expanding regulations, continued NGO and shareholder activism, loss of access to major markets, and chemical mismanagement place significant value at risk.

Trucost found that safer chemistry’s potential for creating business and economic value is promising but not yet fully realized. Customers (including consumers, institutions, large retailers and public agencies) are conveying signals to brands, manufacturers, formulators and chemical companies. Actions are being taken, R&D is occurring and chemicals are being reformulated. However, these changes are limited, primarily reactionary (not proactive) and situational (not comprehensive). The potential for innovation may lie with specialty chemicals, relatively niche chemical formulators and small businesses, which can serve the growing demand through their nature as test beds for problem-solving and their often mission-driven approach to product and service development. In addition, there is a need for more comprehensive, robust analyses and data on safer chemistry at the scales of individual sectors and the larger chemical value chain. Further, given the various definitions of “safer chemistry” that stakeholders use, more consistent metrics and precise terminology are needed.

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