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Chemical Industry to Develop ‘Green’ Product and Process Standard

In an effort to select “greener” materials and use cleaner processes, chemical companies are moving towards the development of a voluntary standard that enables raw material suppliers, manufacturers, retail customers and policymakers to exchange data in a standard format on the environmental performance of chemical products and processes, reports Chemical & Engineering News.

While there are other green standards with product ecolabels, they typically focus on specific attributes like volatile organic compound emissions and don’t include the manufacturing process, according to the article. Wal-Mart and Carrefour also have developed assessment tools and metrics but they are limited to individual classes of chemicals or specific market segments.

The chemical industry approves of Wal-Mart’s sustainability goal to eliminate 20 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the global supply chain by the end of 2015. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) says its own members have already implemented initiatives to reduce emissions and energy use from their products and operations, and have reduced their carbon intensity by 36 percent.

The American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) stepped up to create the Greener Chemical Products & Processes Standard, which will provide data that enables all stakeholders to evaluate the environmental performance of chemical products and their manufacturing technologies with third-party verification, reports G&EN.

GCI’s manager, Jennifer L. Young, who is representing the institute in the standards process, told C&EN that the standard’s first phase covers individual chemicals and the processes to make them, not other lifecycle elements such as sourcing raw materials and tracking the downstream use of the chemicals in making manufactured goods because it would have delayed getting the standard implemented.

Young also said the framework includes multiple parameters in three primary categories: chemical characteristics, chemical processing, and social responsibility.

Administered by NSF International, a global expert in standards development, the group is receiving input from nearly 60 participants, including chemical companies, academia, trade groups, federal and state agencies, and nongovernmental organizations, to help establish the standard. A draft proposal will be released for public comment during the summer.

The goal is to have the standard issued by the American National Standards Institute by the end of the year.

Currently, there are several green chemistry initiatives in place ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program to green tools such as CleanGredients and Green Screen for Safer Chemicals.

The EPA is currently leveraging its DfE program to look for ways to reduce unnecessary exposures to bisphenol A and to look for alternative solutions.

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