Achieving individual product safety requires knowing which ingredients are hazardous under certain conditions. Calculating the chemical footprint for an entire organization allows companies to understand their role in the market and the steps needed to reduce their chemical impact in supply chains. Knowing their impact allows companies to act. When companies know their chemical footprint, they can prioritize which products and ingredients require safer alternatives and which suppliers may provide suitable substitutes.
The Chemical Footprint Project is a progressive and ambitious initiative established by Clean Production Action. It helps manufacturers track the total mass of chemicals with known hazards supplied from their upstream supply chain and sold to downstream customers. Collaborating with others in this space synergizes efforts and aligns organizations around a common vision that drives safety and sustainability. Public disclosure of chemical footprints allows consumers to make informed choices about their purchases and builds trust with brands.
Chemical footprint disclosure means that companies publicly release the total mass of chemicals sold by their company, used in their manufacturing operations and by their suppliers, and contained in packaging that meet certain hazard criteria. Figure 3 summarizes THESIS 2019 performance on the topic of chemical footprints. Like other sustainability performance measurements, companies are achieving basic activities like internally measuring their chemical footprint, but they are not externally collaborating or publicly disclosing their results.
In conclusion, companies are increasingly implementing practices towards safer products. While laws around ingredient disclosure have driven some of this, THESIS data shows that many companies go well beyond “compliance” in terms of their practices around risk assessment, product safety, and chemical footprinting. For example, ⅕ to ½ of suppliers in these different categories both calculate a chemical footprint and publicly disclose it, something that addresses chemical related risks in both the supply chain and the use phase of the product. With ingredient disclosure to consumers, we see almost ¾ of suppliers not impacted by legislation still performing disclosure. As retailers and consumers continue to increase demonstration of their preference for transparency and safe chemistry practices, one would expect improvement to continue year to year.