The first non-profit institute in the nation for developing safer products was announced by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with academic, business, government, and environmental leaders, at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. The new Green Products Innovation Institute (GPII), headquartered in California, will establish metrics and standards for creating safer and healthy products, while fueling research, innovation, economic growth and job creation in the green chemistry sector.
GPII advances the framework outlined in “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,” by architect and designer William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart. Some of the institute’s other supporters include Governor Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt, Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, Cabinet Secretary, and the Chief Policy Advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger.
“California has the most comprehensive Green Chemistry program in the world, and our leadership in ensuring the products we use every day are safe for our families and environment has resulted in the Green Products Innovation Institute choosing to headquarter here in California,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This Institute will revolutionize the way we design products and serve as a benchmark for those who aspire to set new standards of environmental and human health and safety for all products sold in California.”
In April, the California Department of Toxic Substances Controls (DTSC) released its outline of Regulations for Safer Products under the state’s Green Chemistry Initiative that identifies chemicals of concern and establishes methods for analyzing alternatives to existing hazardous chemicals.
GPII will collaborate with DTSC to advise and assist in developing transparent criteria for assessing alternatives to the chemicals currently used in consumer products sold in California. The Institute will also coordinate with DTSC to provide companies, government and consumers with data on the toxicity characteristics of chemicals and materials used in products so industry can both identify chemicals of concern as well as alternatives.
GPII, using the Cradle to Cradle certification protocol, will work with leaders from academia, the NGO environmental community, government and industry to establish both metrics and a rating system for evaluating products. Products that meet the criteria will receive the Cradle to Cradle certification mark.
Companies across many industries have already demonstrated the benefits of designing products according to the Cradle to Cradle framework, including Herman Miller, Shaw Industries, Ford Motor Company, Aveda and Method Laundry, and most recently Dow. To date, more than 300 products and 90 companies have participated in the Cradle to Cradle certification (CM) process.