BizNGO - Chemical Footprint 2015
We celebrated BizNGO's 10th anniversary in typical collaborative spirit by co-organizing our annual conference with the Chemical Footprint Project. Combining the best features of the two initiatives, the conference featured in-depth, high quality presentations that openly addressed the challenges of and opportunities for transitioning from chemicals of high concern to safer alternatives. Presenters and participants included a diverse range of business and environmental leaders. As one business leader reflected, “It would take me years to achieve the level of networking and engagement with NGOs and businesses that I achieve in two days at BizNGO.”
Conference highlights include:
- Bradley Colton of Marriott International, Kevin Lewis of Premier, Inc., and JoAnna Abrams of MindClick delved into the Chemical Footprint Project and the opportunities it holds for shedding light on how suppliers manage chemicals in products and supply chains.
- GOJO Industries announced that it will be the first company to commit to reducing its chemical footprint. Nicole Koharik provided lessons learned on GOJO's experience with the Chemical Footprint Project and announced the company’s goal of reducing its chemical footprint by 50 percent by 2020.
- Levi Strauss & Company is the first apparel company (we are aware of) to use a hazard-screening approach to assessing textile-finishing chemicals. Bart Sights, the company’s Senior Director of Innovation, announced in his keynote that LS&Co. now screens textile finishing chemicals prior to use based on their inherent hazards.
- Socially responsible investors—Larisa Ruoff (The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge) and Susan Baker (Trillium Asset Management)— emphasized (respectively) the value proposition of chemical footprinting for investors and why proactive engagement of companies in policies to protect human health and the environment matters.
- Clinton Boyd of Steelcase explained how easy it is (just kidding!) to extract chemical ingredient information from suppliers. For Steelcase, knowing chemicals in products down to 100 parts per million requires engagement across the organization, including engineering, innovation, and sustainability.
- Tools for evaluating chemicals and identifying safer alternatives were the focus of our panel featuring ChemSec, Healthy Building Network, Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute, Pure Strategies, and ToxServices.
- Bill Walsh of the Healthy Building Network led an engaging panel with representatives from Assa Abloy, Health Product Declaration Collaborative, Perkins+Will, and The Durst Organization on how chemical ingredient transparency is driving innovation in building products. The panelists detailed how information on and communication of chemical ingredient information across the value chain is a critical starting point for material transformation in the building sector.
In the words of the participants:
- “BizNGO is an inspiring event that highlights the possibilities of what we can achieve and how to get there.”
- But it’s not all apple pie: “I came here thinking I had done so much, and now I realize how much more there is to do.”
- And the strength to continue on: “I get my courage from groups like this.”
Keeping with our commitment to host events at venues with daylight, the JFK Library in Boston provided a spectacular view of the Boston harbor and skyline, along with the opportunity for browsing the history of John F. Kennedy’s presidency.
Mark S. Rossi
Sally Edwards, UMass Lowell