Debate continues to rage regarding reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Many industry watchers are guessing that any reform of the national law is becoming less and less likely to happen before the close of 2014.
Legislative reform or not, the topic of safer chemicals in consumer products is capturing public attention, and businesses are noticing. High profile initiatives by retailers Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods underscore the burgeoning realization that safer products makes good business sense.
Of course any reform or initiative is only as good as the details within the effort. Simply participating in a “safer chemical” program does not a safer product make. Nonetheless, these initiatives show that concerns have moved out of the insular world of environmentalism and into the broader consumer base. TSCA after all was passed back in 1976, and only ten years ago its existence was largely known only by environmentalists and legislators. Now in 2014 the law now is being discussed by parent, consumer and health organizations and the individuals that make up those groups. Awareness has grown.
In earlier posts we’ve mentioned the American Sustainable Business Council and its Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition. Here are some of the many other efforts looking to curb toxic chemicals in products.
Roadmap to Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) This voluntary initiative for apparel manufacturers and retailers began in 2011, with the goal of moving the industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020.
Twelve large health systems joined with Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), the Center for Health Design, and Practice Greenhealth to create the Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI). HHI is designed as a guide for hospitals to reduce energy and waste, choose safer and less toxic products, and purchase and serve healthier foods.
A collaborative of businesses and environmental groups working toward safer chemicals. BizNGO.org has pioneered the GreenScreen method for companies to better assess chemical choices.
Safer States, part of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, provides discusses efforts by state, both public and private, working to reduce questionable chemicals. This site offers a variety of information and provides a bill tracker to show the progress of proposed legislation for safer chemicals by state. Additionally, the site provides a good snapshot of efforts occurring nationally.
The above initiatives indicate that the topic of safer chemicals is likely not going away. Further, the ease of sharing information provided by the Internet is bringing the topic mainstream and into the business world, where it needs to be.
After all, safer products benefit everyone, not just environmentalists.