In its latest survey of company progress towards managing chemicals in an environmentally sound way, Chemical Footprint Project has reported a leap in scores being achieved by businesses.
The organisation’s annual report, launched at Chemical Watch’s 'Safer Chemicals in Products' conference in Boston, says that companies’ average scores had jumped from 41% of possible points in 2015 to 59% in 2017.
The survey is an initiative of the NGO Clean Production Action and other partners that helps corporations measure their progress on transitioning to safer chemicals.
Twenty-four companies with more than $677bn in annual revenue took part in 2017. Throughout the survey's three-year history, 43 companies have participated, including ten that have been included for three years running. Those ten companies also followed the improvement trend in 2017, with average scores increasing from an average of 43% of 100 possible points in 2015 to 55% in 2017.
Consumer or institutional purchaser facing companies. ... are the ones that have the highest risk of having hazardous chemicals in their products" Mark Rossi, CPA.
"Companies in building, retail, electronics, apparel, consumer goods, healthcare and toys have been sectors that have been active in participating in the CFP survey," Mark Rossi, Executive Director of Clean Production Action, told Chemical Watch.
"They are all brands that are consumer facing or institutional purchaser facing. And they are the ones that have the highest risk of having hazardous chemicals in their products."
The highest scorers among companies agreeing to publicly share their 2017 results were: Beautycounter and Case Medical, both with 91 points; Seventh Generation, 88 points; Seagate Technology, 81 points; Humanscale, 85 points; Naturepedic, 77 points; Levi Strauss, 76 points; and Milliken, 73 points. All of the companies were well above the average of 59 points.
Participants evaluated their chemicals management performance using 20 questions and were awarded points based on four key pillars:
- management strategy (20 points);
- chemical inventory (30 points);
- disclosure and verification (20 points); and
- footprint measurement (30 points).
Across all four pillars, the survey found that transparency is rising and companies are increasingly making their policies public. In 2015, 46% of responders posted policies on their websites. In 2017, that number grew to 63%.
Companies also reported expanding the scope of their policies beyond chemicals in products to include chemicals in manufacturing operations, packaging, and supply chains, as well as showing a preference for safer alternatives, and publishing their policies online.
Average scores for corporate policies on chemicals of high concern (CoHCs) and safer alternatives rose from 42% of possible points in 2015 to 67% in 2017.
"Measuring CoHCs across all products by mass is a challenge, but the 2017 results clearly show increased efforts by responders to quantify the CoHCs in their products," CFP said.
Companies reported reducing 42 million pounds of CoHCs in products. The goal- setting leaders in this area are GOJO Industries, which has committed to reducing its chemical footprint 50% by 2020, and Walmart, which plans to reduce its chemical footprint 10% by 2022.
With regard to chemical inventory, 92% of survey respondents said they had some form of a restricted substances list (RSL). For the first time in 2017, CFP also asked companies about MRSLs — which restrict chemicals used in manufacturing that do not end up in the final product above de minimus levels — and some 21% reported having both an RSL and an MRSL.
CFP is an initiative to elevate "chemical footprinting" to the equivalent of carbon and water footprinting. Signatories to the project include investors with more than $2.3trn in assets under management.
- Developing criteria for measuring chemical footprints in supply chains through BizNGO collaboration starting in 2019;
- releasing Q4 updated guidance, including updated chemicals of high concern and substances of very high concern (SVHC) lists;
- launching the next survey on 1 January 2019 closing 31 March 2019; and
- issuing their annual report in Q2-Q3 2019.