The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts has partnered with the Green Electronics Council, the Responsible Purchasing Network, and the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council to create a new report, Advancing Safer Chemicals in Products: The Key Role of Purchasing. This report describes the potentially harmful environmental and health impacts associated with some of the chemicals in products commonly used by public agencies and businesses, and how six organizations—Seattle City Light, Oregon Environmental Council, Perkins+Will, Danish retailer Coop, Kaiser Permanente, and the National Institutes of Health — are taking leadership roles to identify and screen out toxic substances in the products they purchase. The report discusses the role that ecolabels play in helping purchasers source safer products, and also the lessons learned from the experiences of these leading organizations who have gone beyond ecolabels.
Among the lessons learned are:
- Understand and identify the potentially harmful substances in the products your organization is purchasing, and set priorities to phase them out
- Create a strong toxics reduction policy based on these priorities, and follow up with specifications that will put your policy into action
- Include a broad range of chemicals and products
- Engage employees and suppliers in your efforts to ensure that your goals are understood, safer products identified, and there are open channels for feedback
- Build a broad network that can help you understand changing science and keep up with best practices.
Keep your eye out for notices about a webinar on the report hosted by the sponsoring organizations after the summer!