Chemical Footprint Project aims to address corporate chemical management

December 8, 2014

A new effort has been launched to help organizations become more transparent about their use of potentially hazardous chemicals. The Clean Footprint Project, founded by the nonprofit Clean Production Action and the Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, aims to help purchasers make more informed and sustainable decisions by showcasing suppliers that work towards mitigating the risk posed by harmful chemicals.

The project has already attracted such organizations as the U.S. Green Building Council, Target, Staples and Kaiser Permanente. Participating organizations will be able to provide a benchmark of their chemical management progress, and be able to market their improvements towards using safer and more environmentally-sensitive chemicals.

According to a release from the organization, the Clean Footprint Project is the first initiative of its kind to allow for the public disclosure of corporate chemicals management performance. The project will focus on four key areas: management strategy, chemical inventory, progress measurement and public disclosure. 

The chemical management strategy entails measuring the scope of internal policies in regard to the safe use and disposal of dangerous substances. The Clean Footprint Project will also look at how well these policies are integrated into the overarching business strategy, and the availability of employee training programs focused on promoting greater understanding of proper handling and storage. 

Participating organizations' chemical inventory prowess will be reviewed based on the demonstrated knowledge about the chemicals used in their production. The Clean Footprint Project also expects its members to have a chemical data management system in place to ensure compliance with reporting requirements.

Progress measurement will be based on how well organizations meet their set goals for reducing the use and exposure of chemicals of high concern. From an established baseline, organizations will be judged on how well they have identified and implemented new methods of mitigating the risk posed by these substances.

The final aspect of chemical management performance to be measured, public disclosure, concerns whether a company fully discloses the names of all chemicals it employs in its production processes. This information will be verified by an independent third party.

Just like similar efforts help organizations evaluate their carbon, water and waste footprints, the Clean Footprint Project will be able to recognize and reward those companies making an effort to operate in a more sustainable fashion.

Not only does this help increase appeal to purchasers, who are increasingly making decisions based on the environmental efforts of different businesses, but it will help protect valuable industrial land for future generations. If your organization is interested in ensuring that its chemical management policies are sustainable, working with environmental consultants can help identify the best path forward.