The Chemical Footprint Project — an initiative driving the effective management of chemicals in products and supply chains — has released its second annual report, which measures corporate chemicals management performance through a 20-question survey that evaluates companies on management strategy, chemical inventory, footprint measurement and public disclosure and verification.
According to the 2017 report, chemical footprinting is increasingly moving towards the mainstream. This year’s participants, among them Walmart, CVS Health and the Environmental Defense Fund, come from a range of industries — including packaging, medical devices, household and personal care products, toys and electronics — and have annual revenues totaling over $670 billion.
“For the first time ever, companies are quantitatively measuring and reporting their chemical footprint,” said Dr. Mark Rossi, lead author of the report and Executive Director of Clean Production Action.
Companies participating in the 2016 survey demonstrated how to measure their footprints and shared their reductions in hazardous chemical use. Over the past two years, participating companies that quantified their footprint reduced their use of chemicals of high concern in products by 416 million pounds — enough to fill over 3,600 swimming pools.
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“CFP is making data available for benchmarking and gap analysis, which are critical for us to understand where our company and our suppliers are on the journey to more sustainable chemicals,” said Zach Freeze, Senior Director of Sustainability for Walmart — a CFP Signatory and the first retailer to participate in the annual survey.
With the publication of the 2017 report, investors and purchasers now have access to data that enables the benchmarking of firms on their progress to sound chemicals management and companies can assess where they stand relative to peers and identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement.
The survey found that for household cleaning and personal care products, large companies scored higher for metrics that require policies, systems and procedures for safer chemicals, while small companies scored higher for footprinting and transparency to the public.
For companies selling products such as clothing, furniture and electronics, large companies scored higher across all indices, followed by medium companies and then small companies. CFP attributes this ranking to a greater awareness of chemicals in the products and supply chains for larger companies, as well as more access to resources to manage chemicals and a greater need of having corporate policies in place to develop and implement chemicals management systems.
The CFP results reveal clear steps to environmentally sound chemicals management:
- Corporate Policy: establish a comprehensive chemicals policy
- Inventory: know the chemicals in your company’s products and supply chains
- Management: quantitatively measure your company’s chemical footprint, set measurable goals and monitor progress to these goals
- Transparency: engage the public, institutional purchasers and investors in your firm’s journey to effective chemicals management by sharing publicly your CFP answers and score
Tracking chemical inputs and measuring progress to safer chemicals is an important metric in tracking progress to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meeting corporate reporting standards such as those developed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).
The annual CFP Report provides a clear map for benchmarking corporate progress to safe and sustainable products. The four pillars of CFP — management strategy, chemical inventory, footprint measurement and disclosure and verification — enable participating companies to benchmark their progress internally and externally and empower investors and purchasers to evaluate and hold companies accountable.