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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on August 10, 2021, that it added 36 chemicals to the Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL). EPA states that the SCIL “is a living list of chemicals, by functional-use class, that EPA’s Safer Choice program has evaluated and determined meet Safer Choice criteria.” Listed chemicals “are among the safest for their functional use.” According to EPA, the SCIL is a “critical resource” that can be used by many different stakeholders, including:

  • Product manufacturers that use the SCIL to help them make high-functioning products that contain safer ingredients;
  • Chemical manufacturers that use the SCIL to promote the safer chemicals they manufacture;
  • Retailers that use the SCIL to help shape their sustainability programs; and
  • Environmental and health advocates that use the SCIL to support their work with industry to encourage the use of the safest possible chemistry.

EPA’s Safer Choice program certifies products containing ingredients that have met the program’s human health and environmental safety criteria. Companies can use the Safer Choice label on products that meet the Safer Choice Standard. EPA’s website contains a complete list of Safer Choice-certified products. EPA states that in the coming year, it hopes to expand the Safer Choice program “to make products containing safer chemicals increasingly available to underserved communities, including communities of color and low-income communities.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

 

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) recently released a report that evaluates the potential business and economic value of “safer chemistry.”  The report, Making the Business & Economic Case for Safer Chemistry, concludes that market growth, capital flows, and market demand show upward trajectories during the past five years.  Large corporations, specifically including Dow, DuPont, and Sigma-Aldrich, have higher sales growth of broadly defined “green chemistry” production portfolios, as compared to sales of conventional chemistry.  Smaller companies whose value proposition is based on safer chemistry, including Seventh Generation or Method, have demonstrated continued growth.  The research also identified examples of sizeable business risk posed by traditional chemistry that safer chemistry could alleviate.  These include expanding regulations, continued non-governmental organization (NGO) and shareholder activism, loss of access to major markets, and chemical mismanagement.

 

The Report offers several recommendations:

  1. Businesses that have not yet evaluated their individual business case for safer chemistry within their specific product portfolio and market segment are strongly encouraged to do so, given the potential for revenue growth and business value at risk.
  2. Safer chemistry metrics that relate to business and economic opportunity (and risk) should be tracked and communicated, to help spur business understanding of safer chemistry and public policy mechanisms for data closure.
  3. The total societal benefits associated with the addressable market for safer chemistry should be quantified and communicated to policy makers and investors.
  4. Existing safer chemistry initiatives should be catalyzed, harmonized, and aligned through a value chain approach and used to leverage capital flows toward safer chemistry innovation.
  5. Stakeholders should work toward a common understanding and communicate with better clarity on the specific aspects of safer chemistry that they are addressing, since the topic can encompass many different production aspects and product attributes.
  6. Priorities for filling data gaps should include gathering more specific market research to quantify the potential for job growth and revenue opportunity for safer chemistry (as more narrowly defined), more specifically by product segment and industry vertical.

 


 

EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) plans to expand its Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), and invites chemical manufacturers to provide information on their safer chemicals to EPA for review and listing on the SCIL. EPA plans to expand the categories and functional classes of the SCIL. Interested companies can review EPA's "Steps to SCIL Listing" to learn more about the process.

 

 

On December 11, 2013, EPA gave a Green Chemistry award to Professor Richard Wool of the University of Delaware for his work to develop biobased products such as adhesives, composites, and foams from renewable feedstocks, including vegetable oils, chicken feathers, and flax. The EPA grants Green Chemistry Awards each year to recognize "landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that are contributing to the use of chemicals and products that are safer for people's health and the environment." More information on the 2013 Green Chemistry Awards is available online.


 

EPA has requested a report from the National Academies Committee (the Committee) on options that governments, manufacturers, and retailers can use to compare the safety of various chemicals as they analyze potential substitutes for those chemicals. The report is expected early in 2014. During the initial meeting of the Committee last month, a representative from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that an OECD committee has identified more than 80 methods for selecting safer chemicals. OECD also intends to release a report identifying them early next year.


 

On October 29, 2013, hundreds of parents and children participated in a "stroller brigade" on Capitol Hill during which they lobbied Senate offices to provide greater protections against harmful chemicals during reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The stroller brigade also joined actress Jennifer Beals at a press conference on TSCA reform sponsored by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition.


Following the July 31, 2013, Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on TSCA reform, Committee Members reportedly continue negotiations on S. 1009, the bi-partisan TSCA reform bill sponsored by Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group's (BRAG™) previous report on the bill and hearing is available online.


Also on October 29, 2013, the Center for Progressive Reform released a report critical of TSCA and the two current Senate bills designed to reform it, S. 1009 and S. 696, which is sponsored by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The report, "TSCA Reform: Preserving Tort and Regulatory Approaches," makes several specific recommendations for reform, including making it easier for EPA to obtain toxicity data from chemical manufacturers. A copy of the report is available online.