In additional to US lawmakers altering federal chemical regulations, dozens of major companies including Levi Strauss & Co., Walmart, and Johnson & Johnson have participated in a first-of-its-kind effort to publicly benchmark corporate chemical management.
Underscoring the emergence of the global move to reducing chemical contamination, The Chemical Footprint Project published its inaugural report. The report provides insights into how leading companies manage chemicals in their products and supply chains, as well as recommendations about how all companies can better manage these issues. This involves a significant and growing group of blue chip US companies in the monitoring of their chemical usage with the aim to identify and reduce use of chemicals.
The report highlights Levi’s as a chemical management and sustainable chemistry leader. The company set a goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020, and began developing its Screened Chemistry Program in 2013.
In addition to this development, Levi’s have a new line of jeans that are manufactured with a significant reduction in water usage. The average pair of jeans uses 42 litres in the finish process, but Levi’s new line is meant to reduce water consumption by an average of 28 percent, and up to as much as 96 percent for some new products within the collection.
Other key findings in the Chemical Footprint Project report include:
· The 29 percent of firms with board-level oversight or senior management incentives performed better overall than firms with no such accountability.
· Companies need comprehensive policies. Without policies that address chemical hazards in manufacturing, supply chains and packaging — in addition to products — companies face liabilities and chemical risks.
· Companies whose entire product portfolios are based on minimizing or eliminating chemicals of high concern performed well above average.
Discussing why progressive sustainable policies in integral to a company’s code of conduct, executive director Mark S. Rossi stated, “Investors, institutional purchasers, and brands increasingly want to know all the chemicals in their products, whether those chemicals are hazardous to human health or the environment, and whether safer alternatives are available to chemicals of high concern”.
Commenting on the report Sonja Haider, Senior Business and Investors advisor with Swedish NGO ChemSec, declared,
“First came carbon, now it is time to measure the corporate chemical footprint. This is the obvious next step in sustainable business practice. Publishing the chemical footprint will close a gap in sustainability reporting, something really sought after by investors and it will help purchasers find the best suppliers”.
The movement made by recognised industry leaders Levi Strauss & Co., Walmart, and Johnson & Johnson is paramount as it reveals that “A comprehensive chemicals management strategy positions companies to reduce their chemical risks and to maximize their opportunities for growth”. By acting in a lateral and responsible way, these retail giants set a precedent for other companies to emulate changes in the right direction.