Staples, Marriott Now Requiring Suppliers to Assess 'Chemical Footprints'

Next Wednesday, June 17, U.S. businesses representing more than $50 billion in investment and purchasing power will require that their vendors, suppliers, and builders use a new assessment tool that measures usage of harmful chemicals in their products and production processes.

The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) Assessment Tool, released in December by the group Clean Production Action in partnership with Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and Pure Strategies, provides a common metric for publicly benchmarking chemical use and management.

Staples, Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Marriott International, Boston Common Asset Management, Trillium Asset Management, and the U.S. Green Building Council are among those entities that have signed on to the project.

As environmental and health concerns over chemical use grow among consumers, more and more brands are voluntarily eliminating toxic chemicals from their products, and a range of tools have emerged to assess products’ chemical hazards. The CFP Assessment Tool provides an independently verifiable method for investors and companies to document their progress on chemical management.

“The Chemical Footprint Project gives voice to the demands of investors, institutional purchasers, and retailers for companies to be on the path to safer chemicals in products,” said Dr. Mark Rossi, co-director of Clean Production Action. “Major companies across sectors are already asking their stakeholders to use the Chemical Footprint tool to measure and improve their progress to safer chemicals,” he said.

Companies using the Chemical Footprint Tool complete 20 questions in four key areas:

  1. Management: what are a company’s chemical policies and strategies;
  2. Inventory: how much a company knows about chemicals in its products;
  3. Footprint: what is a company’s chemical footprint and what steps are being taken to substitute toxic chemicals with safer alternatives;
  4. Disclosure: how much information on chemicals the company publicly discloses.

For the signatories, this new initiative provides a long-awaited tool for engaging potential suppliers.

“We recognize the challenge of moving to safer chemicals requires innovative solutions,” said Brad Colton, Marriott’s Senior Director of Strategic Projects and Global Procurement. “The Chemical Footprint Project’s focus on assessing and improving chemical management practices provides a way to engage our suppliers and drive improvement throughout our supply chain.”

Investors emphasize the tool’s potential to help them compare company performance and identify leaders.

“The self-assessment process spotlights supply chain risks and allows for thorough and conscientious chemical management,” said Jeremy Cote, CFA and Research Analyst at Trillium Asset Management. “Integrating this information into our investment process helps to identify industry leaders and to reduce company-specific risk in our portfolios.”

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