Make Chemicals More Sustainable

We believe products can be safer for people and ecosystems alike.

The Opportunity

Millions of products we use every day contain chemicals that present significant human and environmental health hazards. For example, Americans pour more than 32 million pounds of household cleaning products down the drain daily. Many of these products contain toxic substances that eventually pollute our waterways and can be harmful to humans, due to ongoing or direct exposure. Our understanding of the effects these chemicals have on our bodies and on ecosystems lags behind the innovation that has created these products.

There is a growing movement to rethink the way we design and use chemicals. Green chemistry, or what we sometimes refer to as sustainable chemistry, focuses on the design of chemicals and chemical processes to improve their human and environmental health performance. Its principles, as developed by Paul Anastas and John Warner, aim to create products that are less toxic, safer to use, and do not persist in living things or the environment.

As the field of green chemistry advances, our collective challenge is to create smarter, safer alternatives through the design of everyday consumer products.

Our Approach

As companies seek to formulate safer products, GreenBlue promotes better design by improving the human health and environmental profiles of the chemicals used in those products. One way we do this is by providing business with reliable technical information on the attributes, availability, and application of safer chemicals.

Our CleanGredients® database was created to help companies share chemical information and, in turn, drive continuous innovation in chemistry and the development of safer products. We have helped many product formulators—from the largest to the smallest—substitute hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives.

Activities

CleanGredients

A marketplace for green chemicals. CleanGredients is an online database that provides verified scientific data to help companies identify safer alternatives for use in consumer products, with a current focus on cleaning products. The chemicals listed in the database must meet established criteria for superior environmental and human health performance that were developed in collaboration with the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment Program. The database helps chemical suppliers showcase the environmental and human health advantages of their chemicals and formulators identify better chemical alternatives that are safer and more environmentally sustainable.
www.cleangredients.org

Material Health Evaluation

In all of its program areas, GreenBlue works to identify and promote safer chemicals as an essential step in the design and production of more sustainable products. The expertise we have developed through our work in chemicals informs all of our activities. We apply life cycle thinking and study products to assess their consumption of resources but also to evaluate what we call their “material health,” the human and environmental effects of the chemicals they contain or use. Material health evaluation is a common task in our Advisory Services projects, as well as in our research in packaging. Our definition of sustainable packaging requires that packaging is beneficial, safe, and healthy throughout its life cycle and is made from materials that are healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios, and we are currently developing resources to address material health challenges in packaging.