Standard Guide for Making Sustainability-Related Chemical Selection Decisions in the Life-Cycle of Products
4.1 This guide outlines sustainability factors for manufacturers to consider when comparing alternative chemicals or ingredients across the life cycle of a product.
4.2 Methods exist for the evaluation of chemical hazards for product-chemical pairs. These methods are referenced in several regulatory, non-regulatory, and green building schemas and should be conducted as part of an analysis of this type.
Note 1: Evaluation methods include, but are not limited to, Clean Production Action’s GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals,5 The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DtE) Alternatives Assessment Criteria for Hazards Evaluation (Safer Choice) methodology and the National Academy of Sciences’ A Framework to Guide Selection of Chemical Alternatives.8 Regulatory schemas include laws such as the Safer Consumer Products Rule9 in California or the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals (REACh)10 regulations in Europe. Green building schemas include the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)11 system by the USGBC, which references these indirectly through third-party certifications. However, neither these assessment tools nor the various schemas that reference them have set guidance for using the data in making decisions on which products and ingredients are ultimately the most sustainable.
4.3 Similarly, many tools exist for measuring economic viability, such as value-models and cost analysis. There are also many tools and techniques for measuring social acceptance of products such as sales trends, voice of the customer and many other types of surveys.
4.4 This guide acknowledges the need for determining a baseline for comparing the performance (environmental, economic, and social) of an existing product-chemical pair in a product with the possible/potential alternatives. As such, when using this guide, companies shall use the same study boundaries for the original baseline case and for all alternative options under assessment. Further, when feasible, the same assessment tools should also be used for all options being analyzed.
4.5 Sustainability is a very holistic and encompassing concept. As such, many factors cross all three attributes of sustainability. While factors may be assigned one way in this guide, it is recognized the user has discretion to assign them to whatever attribute(s) they deem appropriate when performing this analysis. However, the user should consistently categorize among all analyses for the purpose of easy comparison.
1.1 This guide outlines sustainability factors for product manufacturers to consider when comparing alternative chemicals or ingredients across the life cycle of a product. Such an analysis could be used in product development, answering customer inquiries, or replying to regulatory requests, among others.
1.2 This guide integrates many of the principles of green chemistry and green engineering in evaluating the factors across the social (including human health), economic, and ecological attributes in the use of a particular material and potential alternatives in a particular product.
1.3 This guide provides an outline for the contents of a report of the results of the analysis, including an executive summary, detailed report, and retrospective.
1.4 This guide does not provide guidance on how to perform chemical risk assessment, alternatives assessment, life-cycle assessment, or economic analysis, or how the alternatives decision-making framework will be completed.
1.5 This guide does not suggest in what order the social, ecological, or economic attributes of sustainability should be evaluated or which one is most important. This is a decision of the company performing the decision-making evaluation.
1.6 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
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