Recently, the State of California released its initial findings for the California Green Chemistry Initiative. With the aim to eliminate or reduce the use of toxic substances in products and manufacturing processes, the comprehensive initiative looks to strengthen the protection of public health and the environment.
“Rather than managing wastes at the end of a product’s life cycle, Green Chemistry shifts our focus to designing chemicals, processes, and goods that have little or no adverse affects during the manufacturing, use or disposal of a product,“ said Secretary Linda Adams.
The plan will influence six different areas of the market in order to better regulate products that are sold in the state:
Expand pollution prevention and other product stewardship programs.
- Develop green chemistry workforce education and training through new and existing educational programs and partnerships.
- Create an online product ingredient network to disclose chemical ingredients for products sold in California, while protecting trade secrets.
- Create an online toxics clearinghouse, an online database of chemical toxicity and hazards populated with the guidance of a Green Ribbon Science Panel to help prioritize chemicals of concern and data needs.
- Accelerate the quest for safer products, creating a systematic, science-based process to evaluate chemicals of concern and alternatives to ensure product safety and reduce or eliminate the need for chemical-by-chemical bans.
- Move toward a cradle-to-cradle economy, establishing a California Green Products Registry to develop green metrics and tools (e.g., environmental footprint calculators, sustainability indexes) for a range of consumer products and encourage their use by businesses.
These recommendations are the result of an 18-month process that included dozens of stakeholder workshops and input.
“The recommendations developed through the Green Chemistry Initiative constitute a far reaching, market-driven strategy with an ambitious aim – the launch of a new chemicals framework and a quantum shift in environmental protection,” said Director Gorsen.
So, What Does That Mean for You?
Essentially, California consumers will be able to know exactly what is in every product, including its carbon footprint and the manufacturing practices of the producer. The plan will create transparency in industries that have previously not been regulated in this manner.
“Instead of paying attention to the toxic substances in our everyday products only when it comes time to throw them away in the landfill we will now pay attention . . . when the product is designed, manufactured, used and recycled,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It also means that some products may not be sold in the state if they do not comply with the mandatory regulations.
“We will have the authority to ban the sales of products in California,” Gorsen said. “We will require manufacturers to tell us what is in their products and what were the other alternatives they could used that would be safer. We will require companies to find safer, greener alternatives at the design and manufacturing stages.”