Chemical Footprint Project Releases Report that Scores Product Chemical Content

The Chemical Footprint Project’s second annual report reveals chemical footprinting moves to the mainstream. A diversity of companies across sectors, sizes, and the globe participated in the 2017 Report – demonstrating its relevance and application to a broad array of companies that sell and/or manufacture apparel and footwear, building products and furnishings, packaging, medical devices, household and personal care products, toys, and electronics. Participating companies had annual revenues totaling over $670 billion.

“For the first time ever, companies are quantitatively measuring and reporting their chemical footprint,” highlighted Dr. Mark Rossi, lead author of the report and Executive Director of Clean Production Action. Companies participating in the 2016 Survey demonstrated how to measure their footprint and revealed their reductions in hazardous chemical use. Over the past two years participating companies that quantified their footprint reduced their use of chemicals of high concern in products by 416 million pounds –enough to fill over 3,600 swimming pools.

“CFP is making data available for benchmarking and gap analysis, which are critical for us to understand where our company and our suppliers are on the journey to more sustainable chemicals,” explained Zach Freeze, Senior Director for Sustainability, for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., which is the first retailer to participate in the annual survey and is now a CFP Signatory.

Investors and purchasers now have access to data that enables the benchmarking of firms on their progress to sound chemicals management, and companies can assess where they stand relative to peers and identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement:

  • For companies selling liquid-type goods such as household cleaning and personal care products, large companies scored higher for metrics that require policies, systems, and procedures for safer chemicals, while small companies scored higher for footprinting and transparency to the public.
  • For companies selling hard products such as clothing, furniture, and electronics, large companies scored higher across all indices, followed by medium companies, and then small companies. We attribute the higher scores for large companies to greater awareness of chemicals in their products and supply chains, greater resources to manage  chemicals, and greater need to have corporate policies in place to develop and implement chemicals management systems.

The CFP results reveal clear steps to environmentally sound chemicals management:

  • Corporate Policy: establish a comprehensive chemicals policy.
  • Inventory: know the chemicals in your company’s products and supply chains.
  • Measurement: quantitatively measure your company’s chemical footprint, set measurable goals, and monitor progress to these goals.
  • Transparency: engage the public, institutional purchasers, and investors in your firm’s journey to effective chemicals management by sharing publicly your CFP answers and score.

Tracking chemical inputs and measuring progress to safer chemicals is an important metric in tracking progress to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meeting corporate reporting standards such as those developed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

The annual CFP Report provides a clear map for benchmarking corporate progress to safe and sustainable products. The four pillars of CFP – Management Strategy, Chemical Inventory, Footprint Measurement, and Disclosure & Verification – enable participating companies to benchmark their progress internally and externally, and empower investors and purchasers to evaluate and hold companies accountable.

Industry Lobbies to Slow Implementation of New Ozone Standards

There appears to be some push back against a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives concerning Houston’s air quality initiatives that strives to delay the rule. This may be taken out of context, but here’s a direct quote from a letter obtained by the Houston Public Media:

The American Chemistry Council’s Anna Burhop welcomed the House of Representatives’ advancing a bill that would delay federal ozone rules. “From a business perspective, you don’t want to go ahead and jump into reformulating all of your products, or putting really expensive controls on your plants, when you don’t know whether that’s necessary or not,” she said.”

This statement ignores the many years of increased regulation that have pointed the direction of pollution management to manufacturers since the publication of Carson’s Silent Spring. It’s way past time to implement better hazardous substance controls to ensure a cleaner, safer environment. Complaining about costs is disingenuous; are the costs to do business more important than the health costs of nearby residents?

Facilities that handle, manage, produce and release hazardous materials must do so in a responsible way. It’s because they haven’t that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are in place. As knowledge grows concerning the properties of those substances, regulations become stricter. As explosions, accidental releases, and spills occur as a result of lax hazmat management, regulations become stricter. The point of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is to review such incidents and help develop better controls, which they have done admirably.

If manufacturers don’t like regulations, they can do a better job of implementing controls to reduce emissions. Houston often looks like 1970’s Los Angeles now – a toxic soup that California imposed additional regulations to eliminate.