Staples, HP, Kaiser Permanente to Use Chemical Tracking Tool

by | Dec 3, 2012

Staples, Hewlett-Packard and Kaiser Permanente are among the companies that will use a new tool that tracks the safety of chemicals in products and supply chains.

The Guide to Safer Chemicals is a how-to resource for implementing four BizNGO Principles for Safer Chemicals: know and disclose product chemistry, assess and avoid hazards, commit to continuous improvement and support public policies and industry standards.

BizNGO is a coalition formed in 2006 that includes more than 500 business leaders, NGOs, universities and government agencies.

Dignity Health, Construction Specialties, Novation, Perkins+Will, Shaw Industries, Seventh Generation, Method and Premier will also use the tool. NGOs including Health Care Without Harm, Center for Environmental Health, Breast Cancer Fund, Ecology Center, Clean Water Action, Clean Production Action and Healthy Building Network have endorsed the BizNGO Principles as well.

The guide, which BizNGO says is based on industry best practices, includes four steps:

  • Companies need to know the chemicals in their products and supply chains, and set goals to disclose that information to the public. One method is to use the Health Product Declaration form, a free standard created by companies including Google and Cannon Design. The BizNGO guide also cites the example of electronics company Seagate, which discloses all materials used throughout the supply chain for its hard drive manufacture.
  • Next companies should evaluate these chemicals, identify those of high concerns and implement programs to substitute these with safer alternatives. This could include using tools from ChemSec, GreenScreen and Cradle to Cradle Certified to identify chemicals of high concern and assess hazards of alternatives. Buyers should work with suppliers to implement this principle, BizNGO says.
  • Companies then set goals and publicly report on their progress to achieve these goals, which include endorsing the four BizNGO Principles and establishing a corporate chemicals policy.
  • And finally, companies advance the implementation of the principles in public policies and industry standards. This includes publicly presenting their work on implementing the principles, collaborating with NGOs on implementing the principles and pushing legislation and other public policies that support them.

Last year, the American Chemistry Council said the EPA lacks a “consistent, transparent process” for evaluating which chemicals need further evaluation, and proposed a system for prioritizing chemical review and assessment.

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