The Guide to Safer Chemicals (Guide) was released today by a broad coalition of groups working to replace chemicals of high concern with safer alternatives. This first-of-its kind tool sets benchmarks for how manufacturers, retailers and purchasers can track their progress to using chemicals in products that are safer for human health and the environment.
"This practical, easy-to-use guide is intended to revolutionize the way companies are able to move away from hazardous chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives," said Dr. Mark Rossi, Co-Chair of BizNGO and lead author of The Guide." Today's business leaders recognize that comprehensive programs for safer chemicals are essential to innovation, informed decisions, and clear communication with suppliers."
Every week new scientific research links 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 development disabilities. The uncertainty surrounding the safety of chemicals is eroding consumer confidence in a wide range of products.
The Guide is a how-to-resource for implementing the visionary BizNGO Principles for Safer Chemicals, which are: 1) Know & Disclose Product Chemistry; 2) Assess & Avoid Hazards; 3) Commit to Continuous Improvement; & 4) Support Public Policies & Industry Standards.
The Guide is a practical tool for all downstream users of chemicals (purchasers, retailers and product manufacturers) to benchmark their progress toward safer chemicals use. A simple hiking analogy of four benchmarks—Trailhead, Base Camp, High Camp and Summit—illustrates a company's progress in implementing the Principles.
Based on industry best practices, the BizNGO Principles set the following four goals:
#1: 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.
#2: 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.
#3: Commit to Continuous Improvement: Companies set goals and publicly report on their progress to achieving these goals, which include endorsing the four BizNGO Principles and establishing a corporate chemicals policy.
#4: 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.
The Guide was released today at the 7th annual meeting of BizNGO, a coalition formed in 2006 that includes over 500 leaders from businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, and government agencies. 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 NGO's include: Health Care Without Harm, Center for Environmental Health, Breast Cancer Fund, Ecology Center, Clean Water Action, Clean Production Action, and Health Building Network.
For more information about The Guide and the work of BizNGO, visit the website at http://www.bizngo.org/.