Initiative Aims for Companies to Cut Use of Toxic Chemicals

Companies that have been urged to reduce their carbon footprint are being asked to also phase out their use of toxic chemicals under a similar ‘Chemical Footprint Project’ (CFP).

The initiative, which includes a CFP assessment tool, is being rolled out by environmental organisation Clean Production Action with research institute the Lowell Centre for Sustainable Production and sustainability consultancy Pure Strategies.

Initial signatories to the initiative include Aviva Investors, BNP Paribas IP, Boston Common Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente and Staples.

“Despite growing regulatory efforts, businesses around the world continue to use chemicals of high concern to human health and environment,” comment the CFP sponsors. “Formaldehyde and toxic phthalates in flooring are but two examples of hazardous chemicals that have caused health issues for consumers and financial and reputation problems for companies and their products.

“A growing number of companies are leading the way by voluntarily phasing out toxic chemicals, demonstrating how they can operate just as efficiently using safer alternatives. However, until now investors and companies have had no independently verifiable, transparent way to document progress.”

“The CFP gives voice to the demands of investors, institutional purchasers, and retailers for companies to be on the path to safer chemicals in products,” says Dr. Mark Rossi, co-director of Clean Production Action. “Major companies across sectors are already asking their stakeholders to use the Chemical Footprint tool to measure and improve their progress to safer chemicals.”

The tool asks 20 questions in four key areas:

  1. Management: what are a company’s chemical policies and strategies?
  2. Inventory: how much a company knows about chemicals in its products.
  3. Footprint: what is a company’s chemical footprint and what steps are being taken to substitute toxic chemicals with safer alternatives?
  4. Disclosure: how much information on chemicals the company publicly discloses.

Companies will have the option of whether or not to make their score public or hold it privately. Further information about the CFP is available at www.chemicalfootprint.org.

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