January 2013

Volume 22, Number 1

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New Guide Helps Manufacturers Phase Out Toxic Ingredients

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This page from the new Guide to Safer Chemicals illustrates the stages of development that lead from the status quo to an ideal, nontoxic product.


By Paula Melton

From halogenated flame retardants in furniture to phthalates in vinyl flooring to bisphenol-A in epoxies, some of our building products contain extremely toxic materials. Consumers are demanding healthier products, but developing them without compromising performance can seem daunting for manufacturers. To help companies systematically assess and improve their products, green chemistry working groups Clean Production Action and BizNGO have released The Guide to Safer Chemicals.

Viewing the path to safer material chemistry as a journey that begins at a “trailhead” and ends at a “summit,” the guide provides four principles for safer chemicals—know and disclose product chemistry; assess and avoid hazards; commit to continuous improvement; and support public policies and industry standards for safer chemicals. The guide offers a clear framework for achieving each goal and provides real-world examples of how different companies have attained different levels of progress.

“The only way you really get to move beyond the trailhead level is that you have to have systems for implementing this work,” explains Mark Rossi, co-director of Clean Production Action. “What are your plans to move to a safer alternative, and how do you determine that the alternatives are safer than the one you’re replacing?” The guide is available at www.bizngo.org.


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December 31, 2012