Six initiatives that drive safer chemical innovation

Expert panel provides ideas to transform industry through safer chemical innovation

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) hosted a webinar called “creating a healthier marketplace through safer chemical innovation.”

The webinar is available on YouTube and consisted of a panel of four people, all with expertise in safer chemical innovation. Two represented industry, one was from EDF and one was from a venture fund. Each presented their approach to safer chemical innovation prior to a question and answer session. After the presentation, they were asked to share ideas that could make a difference in overcoming obstacles to transform the marketplace.

This is part 1 of a 2-part blog that discusses three of the ideas.

1) Disclose chemicals in products to consumers

There is quite a lot of work in this area both from a brand and regulatory perspective. Both brands stressed the importance of this initiative and are working towards uncovering more information about what is in their products.  This is supported by states developing bills that require full material disclosure for certain product categories.

Target recently published its chemical policy and one of the pillars is about transparency. It states “Target will strive for full visibility to chemicals contained in, or used to make the products sold and used in our operations.” This is further broken down into the following categories: Fragrances, beauty, baby care, and personal care and household cleaning.

California SB-258 Cleaning Product Right to Know Bill, explained by EWG is an ingredient disclosure bill currently in session with wide support from companies and NGO’s.

2) Show the demand for knowledge and communication for safer chemical innovation along the supply chain

Communicating effectively is important in supply chains. This becomes critical if those supply chains are in different countries and populated with people that may not speak the same language, which is typical in the apparel industry.

Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals, ZDHC is a group of brands committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals in the textile industry. They introduced a MRSL and wastewater guidelines that shepherds the supply chain to eliminate harmful chemicals by 2020. By creating a common set of tools, the ability to communicate effectively and share knowledge along the supply chain is simplified and amplified, thereby reducing complexity.

3) Change the infrastructure to only use safer chemicals

Society has allowed the use of harmful chemicals in products and supply chains. Communities don’t want to be exposed to hazardous chemicals and brands certainly don’t want hazardous chemicals present in their products. If they do appear, the brand needs to ensure they understand why and how these chemicals got into their products, which is extremely time consuming and requires precious resources.

Recently, a trace amount of the herbicide glyphosate was found in ten samples of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. The company immediately reacted to the unfortunate situation and is developing strategies to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The better solution is to create an infrastructure that relies on safer chemicals to begin with. That would mean Ben and Jerry’s could put more time into creating additional delicious flavors of their wonderful ice cream.

Impacts to your business?

Questions to consider:

  • Is your company committed to full material disclosure?
  • Do you read product labels?

For help with any issue associated with sustainability and chemicals, contact Amanda Cattermole at (415) 412 8406 or We can help you develop powerful solutions to protect your company and brand reputation, which will result in safer products manufactured in cleaner supply chains.

Tips and Insights contains information to help you make informed chemical management decisions. Each post highlights a particular topic and includes questions you may want to consider for your business.

Posted on: Aug 06, 2017 in Current News

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