With so many vague claims and misleading labels on products in the marketplace, it’s no surprise that consumers are increasingly calling for safer products and greater transparency with regard to product ingredients. That’s why we at EDF were proud to share the stage at the EPA’s 2016 Safer Choice Partner of the Year awards ceremony yesterday with companies, trade groups, and other NGOs working to do just that.
EDF was recognized alongside other Safer Choice Partner of the Year awardees for “demonstrated leadership in furthering safer chemistry and products.” Among the 17 corporate winners were chemical makers, product manufacturers and retailers like BISSELL Homecare, The Clorox Company, Seventh Generation, BASF Corporation, Ecolab and Wegmans Food Markets, all of whom have submitted products or chemicals for certification under the Safer Choice label.
Consumer health is one of the most pressing – and frequently, less recognized – areas of corporate sustainability, and one where driving adoption of safer practices takes both ambition and leadership. We are gratified to see such a diverse range of corporations take significant steps to introduce safer chemicals into the marketplace and for organizations like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Healthy Schools Campaign to lend their support and encouragement.
Every product labeled under the Safer Choice certification program makes the marketplace a little safer and our jobs as advocates for consumer safety a little easier.
Creating safer choices, a product at a time
The Safer Choice certification program was initially developed 15 years ago to help consumers identify products that use safer chemical ingredients and to recognize those businesses investing in such solutions. Each product receiving the label has been evaluated by EPA scientists to ensure that product’s ingredients meet the program’s human health and environmental safety criteria.
The Safer Choice label is an easy, meaningful way for consumers to identify which products have been vetted through a science-based process to be better for both human health and the environment. The program currently works with almost 500 partner companies and has certified more than 2,000 products to carry the Safer Choice label.
In recent years, consumers have grown more concerned about how chemicals in their products affect their health and the environment. A 2014 report by the Shelton Group and UL found that 83 percent of consumers bought sustainable products, citing “health and safety” as the reason why, and that 54 percent of consumers were concerned about “chemicals that come in contact with their skin.” Further, a 2015 Consumer Reports survey found that 44 percent of consumers would pay more for cleaning products that are safer for their health and an additional 46 percent said they would consider it.
Submitting products for certification through the Safer Choice program offers companies a clear win-win for making safer chemicals and products available to consumers interested in purchasing them. By proactively moving toward safer ingredients, companies gain recognition and market advantage – meeting consumer demand by putting products with safer formulations on store shelves with a label that makes them easy to identify.
Guiding safer choices up the supply chain
The fewer hazardous ingredients a product contains, the less likely it is that a manufacturer will need to quickly – and at significant cost – reformulate its products, from either new regulatory demands or consumer pressure. Through the publicly-available Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL), the Safer Choice program guides manufacturers and retailers working towards certification to ingredients with lower hazard that still result in products that perform.
National brands are not the only ones to recognize the importance of working towards safer products: retailers including Wegmans, Safeway and Target are also leading the way by seeking and achieving certification of some of their private label products. Target and Walmart have specifically included Safer Choice certification in their public-facing policies around safer ingredients and products.
Consumer Reports has profiled the Safer Choice label as a meaningful tool for shoppers, and we’re inclined to agree. The Safer Choice program offers companies an opportunity to show leadership in the marketplace when it comes to safer ingredients. Chemical and product manufacturers looking to better manage risk, preempt consumer demand and gain greater recognition for safer solutions should consider including Safer Choice certification in their product design process.
- Product Design: Where the Rubber Hits the Road on Safer Chemicals
- Industry Leadership for Safer Chemicals through Supply Chain Transparency
- EPA Relaunches Safer Choice Product Labeling Program
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