New chemical footprint tool released.

Clean Production Action, an environmental nonprofit, and the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell yesterday announced the launch of a new tool for companies and investment firms to measure suppliers’ use of safer chemicals and evaluate their own progress towards sustainability. The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) is a third-party benchmark facilitating the comparison of corporate chemical use practices, conceptually similar to carbon footprint metrics.

The CFP defines “chemical footprint” as “the total mass of chemicals of high concern (CoHCs) in products sold by a company and used in its manufacturing operations.” The CFP identifies chemicals of high concern as all chemicals on California’s Safer Consumer Products list of Candidate Chemicals.

The CFP’s Steering Committee and Technical Committee members are drawn from several major corporate and nonprofit stakeholders, including Target, Staples, Kaiser Permanente, Hewlett-Packard, Seagate Technology, ChemSec, Environmental Defense Fund, and the U.S. Green Building Council.

According to the Project’s press release, the CFP is “the first initiative to publicly measure overall corporate chemicals management performance by evaluating:

  • Management Strategy
  • Chemical Inventory
  • Progress Measurement
  • Public Disclosure.”

The Project is expected to be fully operational in early 2015. The CFP is only the latest initiative to measure and manage the environmental and health impacts of products based on chemicals in supply chains. In October, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development released a guidance document on life cycle assessment (LCA) methods for chemical products. Last year, retailers Target and Walmart both announced sustainable chemical products programs which were both based on private standards.

Global chemical industry publishes guidance on environmental footprints for products.

Ten global chemical companies and stakeholders have released guidance for the chemical sector on communicating a product’s environmental footprint using life cycle assessment (LCA) methods. Collaborating as a working group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the members developed the guidance document – titled Life Cycle Metrics for Chemical Products – with the objective of facilitating “improved sustainability across value chains” by communicating reliable information using a “common language.” The guidance is based on ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006 and sets out requirements covering topics including:

  • Footprint system boundaries: Product footprint studies should be cradle-to-grave, except for business-to-business products, which may use cradle-to-gate studies. Cradle-to-gate studies must include end-of-life impacts for all waste generated in production.
  • Defining the functional unit and reference flow: The functional unit must be consistent with the goal and scope of the study, and the duration of the functional unit must be specified for cradle-to-grave studies. Compared solutions shall be assessed on main functionality, technical quality (stability, durability, ease of maintenance), and additional functions rendered during use and disposal.
  • Impact categories, energy, and other flows: The guidance names certain models to use in characterizing impacts ranging from global warming to marine eutrophication to human toxicity and ecotoxicity. Energy flows, including cumulative energy demand, renewable energy consumption, and non-renewable energy consumption, must also be assessed and reported.
  • Data source requirements and quality management: Primary data (from specific operations in the studied product’s life cycle) should be “the most accurate available data,” including on-site measurements of aggregated consumed water, energy, and raw material, as well as continual air and water emissions.
  • Main methodological choices: The guidance provides a decision tree for choosing how to allocate environmental impacts for multiple products with different functions coming from the same system. Other methodological choices addressed include: attribution of recycling benefits; avoided emissions; bio-based carbon storage; carbon storage and delayed emissions; and land-use change.
  • Uncertainties of results: At a minimum, studies should include a qualitative description of uncertainties. Quantitative assessments of uncertainty based on Monte Carle simulations are optional.
  • Critical/peer review: Chemical product footprint studies must undergo peer review to assess consistency with the guidance. Externally published comparative claims must undergo “an external critical review by a panel of LCA experts.” All studies must include a statement specifying that the study was critically or peer reviewed and summarizing the review’s conclusions.

This guide is the third release from the WBCSD Chemical Sector’s “Reaching Full Potential” project, which previously released guidance for the chemical industry on accounting and reporting corporate greenhouse gas emissions and avoided emissions. Together, the Project’s publications seek to provide for “consistent and credible communication on how the value chains of chemicals impact on and contribute to sustainability.”

The working group is comprised of major companies like BASF, Eastman Chemical, Evonik, and Solvay, as well as Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council. The next step for the Reaching Full Potential project is to develop a guide for companies to assess social impacts and benefits of chemical products. Development of that guide is already under way, with release expected in late 2015.

National Research Council advises EPA on sustainability-based decision-making.

A new report advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to consider incorporating sustainability concepts used in the agency’s Design for Environment (DfE) program in its new chemicals screening process as it evolves, suggesting a new direction for Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform. The National Research Council (NRC) says that EPA should incorporate into its decision-making process an integrated strategy for evaluating effects on the three dimensions of sustainability – environmental, social, and economic – across all the agency’s activities.

This week, the NRC, the principal operating agency of the National Academies, released its report, Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency. The NRC found that a wide variety of tools are available for the agency to use in integrating sustainability concepts into its decision-making, while declining to give “prescriptive advice” on “the use of specific tools and specific decisions” and recognizing that incorporating sustainability into EPA decision-making will be an “evolutionary process.”

The NRC’s report elaborates on issues left unresolved in the NRC’s 2011 report, Sustainability and the U.S. EPA (also known as the Green Book); this new report was commissioned by EPA “to examine applications of scientific tools and approaches for incorporating sustainability considerations into assessments that are used to support EPA decision-making.”

The report includes among five case studies examining how EPA could incorporate sustainability tools into its decision-making the agency’s DfE program. The NRC recommends that EPA use a “systems-thinking approach,” in contrast to the agency’s traditional focus on reducing releases from specific source categories. Likewise, in regulating products, EPA is urged to consider potential life-cycle effects of business processes along the entire value chain. In particular, the report advises EPA to consider applying lessons learned from the DfE program to the new chemicals screening process under TSCA. The NRC highlights the following approaches from the DfE program:

  • Convening public-private partnerships;
  • Using a variety of screening-level and quantitative analytic tools (like life-cycle analysis and alternatives assessments) relevant to sustainability; and
  • Using a variety of indicators (ecotoxicity, human toxicity, bioaccumulation, and environmental persistence) relevant to sustainability.

EPA is also advised to look to the private sector’s sustainability expertise to learn about tools used outside the agency, and to convene the private sector and NGOs “to define and implement value-chain-wide goals and performance outcomes.” In addition, the NRC recommends that EPA work to share insights and best practices learned from leading companies with other businesses.

Partnering with EPA's Design for Environment at Walmart Sustainable Products Expo.

EPA is a significant partner to companies leading innovation efforts in the arena of safer consumer products, according to Assistant Administrator Jim Jones, of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. In a blog post yesterday, Jones describes how EPA’s Design for Environment (DfE) program recently participated in a “Supplier Panel on Sustainable Chemistry” at Walmart’s first ever Sustainable Products Expo, which brought together leaders from EPA, NGOs, and product manufacturers.

As we have previously discussed, EPA’s DfE program – which establishes voluntary sustainability-related standards for consumer products like household cleaners – plays a major role in Walmart’s Sustainable Chemistry Initiative. Jones writes that EPA’s contribution is “providing scientific expertise and understanding of health and environmental impacts throughout the supply chain, educating consumers and companies alike, and bringing people to the table to stimulate dialogue and partnerships.” Jones notes that with “growing consumer recognition” and trust for the DfE’s “Safer Products” label and program criteria, EPA’s partnerships with companies like Walmart and its participating suppliers can promote sustainability, health, and the environment while meeting consumer demand and growing their business.

The Expo also featured announcements from Walmart and its suppliers of various new sustainability commitments and initiatives. One such initiative is the Closed Loop Fund, which will invest $100 million seeded from suppliers including Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Johnson & Johnson in recycling infrastructure with the goal of “transforming the recycling system in the United States.” Cargill made commitments to increase supply chain transparency in beef and Procter & Gamble pledged to reduce water use for liquid laundry detergent. Together, the suppliers participating across all of these voluntary sustainability efforts account for over $100 billion in sales at Walmart.

Virginia Assembly Opposes Agenda 21

Sustainability:

Yes, from the state that brought us Thomas Jefferson and so many other leaders, we now get the following.  Leaders or not?  You decide.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 654

Offered January 9, 2013

Prefiled January 8, 2013

Recognizing the need to oppose United Nations Agenda 21.

———-

Patrons– Lingamfelter, Cole, Hodges, Landes and Peace

———-

Referred to Committee on Rules

———-

WHEREAS, United Nations Agenda 21, a comprehensive nonbinding, voluntarily implemented action plan concerning sustainable development, environmentalism, social engineering, and globalism, was first presented at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992; and

WHEREAS, United Nations Agenda 21 is being covertly introduced in states and local communities across the nation by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives through local sustainable development policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, and other “green” or “alternative” projects; and

WHEREAS, United Nations Agenda 21, a radical plan of purported “sustainable development,” envisions the American way of life of private property ownership, single-family homes, and individual freedoms as destructive to the environment; and

WHEREAS, in addition, social justice is described by United Nations Agenda 21 as the right and opportunity of all people to benefit equally from the resources afforded by society and the environment that would be accomplished by the redistribution of wealth; and

WHEREAS, United Nations Agenda 21, referring to the 21st century, is an action agenda of the United Nations, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels; United Nations Agenda 21 has been affirmed and modified at subsequent United Nations conferences and various countries have become signatories, including the United States; and

WHEREAS, because United Nations Agenda 21 is not a treaty, the United States Senate has been unable to hold a formal debate or vote to ratify it, and the executive branch has not acted on it in any way; nevertheless, there is support in Congress for United Nations Agenda 21 and over 528 United States cities have become members of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an international sustainability organization that helps to implement the Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 concepts across the world; and

WHEREAS, according to the United Nations Agenda 21 policy, national sovereignty is deemed a social injustice and opposition to the policy has increased over the last 10 years in the United States at the local, state, and federal levels, and several state and local governments have passed legislation rejecting United Nations Agenda 21 as “erosive of American sovereignty”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly recognize the need to oppose United Nations Agenda 21 due to its radical plan of purported “sustainable development,” and that the General Assembly recognize the policy’s infringement on the American way of life and individual freedoms and ability to erode American sovereignty.

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates transmit a copy of this resolution to the United States Secretary of State, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation in order that they may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly of Virginia in this matter during their deliberations.