Trucost recently released a report, commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3), evaluating the market potential of safer chemicals — as well as the business and economic risks of not adopting them.
Making the Business & Economic Case for Safer Chemistry builds a strong case for the growing market potential for safer chemistry — which can include reducing the use and generation of hazardous substances, reducing the human health and environmental impacts of processes and products, and creating safer products — based on an in depth examination of economic research, market trends, and interviews with businesses across the value chain.
Among the report’s findings:
- The market for safer chemicals is estimated to have 24 times the growth of conventional chemicals market worldwide, from 2011 to 2020.
- A growing market demand for safer ingredients across various products, including personal care, cleaning products, baby products, apparel and footwear, healthcare, electronics, building materials and furnishings
- Potential financial costs of conventional chemistry, including regulatory fines, loss of access to markets, and social costs of accidents and incidents are driving the market for safer alternatives.
- Job growth in safer goods and services is well ahead of conventional chemical industry.
“Trucost’s research clearly demonstrates the business benefits of safer chemicals. By translating the risks and opportunities of green chemistry into economic terms, the results will help companies move from awareness to action,” said Richard Mattison, chief executive of Trucost. “It also helps communicate the benefits of more sustainable products and business models to policymakers, investors and other stakeholders.”
“This report demonstrates what many in the industry have believed: that safer chemicals are the future, not just for safety and health, but for business itself,” said David Levine, CEO of ASBC. “The data in this report are important for the industry, but also policymakers. When we can look at the aggregate economics on the upside of market and job growth, investment in innovation opportunities along with the downside cost of hazardous chemical compliance, lawsuits and remediation, we should all be guided by the evidence to move towards safer chemicals production and use. The conclusions in this report are striking.”
Based on the report’s findings, Trucost offers the following recommendations:
- Businesses that have not yet evaluated their individual business case for safer chemistry within their specific product portfolio and market segment are strongly encouraged to do so, given the potential for revenue growth and business value at risk.
- Safer chemistry metrics that relate to business and economic opportunity (and risk) should be tracked and communicated, to help spur business understanding of safer chemistry and public policy mechanisms for data disclosure.
- The total societal benefits associated with the addressable market for safer chemistry should be quantified and communicated to policymakers and investors.
- Existing safer chemistry initiatives should be catalyzed, harmonized and aligned through a value chain approach and used to leverage capital flows toward safer chemistry innovation.
- Stakeholders should work toward a common understanding and communicate with better clarify on the specific aspects of safer chemistry that they are addressing, since the topic can encompass many different production aspects and product attributes.
- Priorities for filling data gaps should include gathering more specific market research to quantify the potential for job growth and revenue opportunity for safer chemistry (as more narrowly defined), more specifically by product segment and industry vertical.
In 2013, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) adopted Safer Consumer Product Regulations that implemented a Green Chemistry statute, making it the only state with a program that extends beyond children's products to all consumer products. And a group of the country's leading consumer brands — led by Seventh Generation and the ASBC and including Patagonia, Method, EILEEN FISHER, Annie’s and more — formed a coalition, Companies for Safer Chemicals, to persuade Congress to update the nation's out-of-date and ineffective chemical safety laws by making a business argument for strong reforms that support the industry innovating to create safer and cleaner products.