Leading sustainably-minded companies including Seventh Generation are participating in a coalition that urges Congress to update chemical safety laws. Called Companies for Safer Chemicals, Seventh Generation and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) are leading the coalition. Other participating companies include Patagonia, Stonyfield Farm, Aubrey Organics, Method, Naturepedic, Badger, Annie’s, EILEEN FISHER, Zarbee’s Naturals, Keys, Think Dirty, and Beautycounter. Coalition members have signed a declaration which asks “Congress to pass comprehensive and effective chemical safety reform legislation now.” The declaration also states that reform “must respect the rights of states to protect their residents when the federal government fails to do so, and require the Environmental Protection Agency to take fast action on the most harmful chemicals.”
“Federal chemical reform is desperately needed, but after twenty-five years of doing business, we know we can’t do it alone,” said John Replogle, CEO of Seventh Generation. “We’re honored to be joined by such a diverse group of socially responsible businesses and we’re looking forward to driving change that will protect the health of future generations.”
“Meaningful reform will speed to market cleaner and safer products and allow companies to meet increasing consumer demand,” said David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council. “Effective policy reform will drive economic growth and job creation.”
The current method of regulating chemicals is through the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Passed in 1976, the ASBC calls it a “broken law” because there are many “potentially harmful chemicals that continue to be used in the marketplace since the 1970’s without proper testing and without disclosure by the companies that produce them.” The Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013, introduced in May, would reform the TSCA. The Companies for Safer Chemicals has concerns about the Act, as does the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families advocacy group. Safer Chemicals states that “the bill needs a substantial reworking and rebalancing in favor of delivering clearer health and environmental benefits sooner and reducing the risks of paralysis and delay.”
How California and leading companies might influence Congress
Perhaps a law that recently went into effect in the golden state can lead the way for Congressional reform of chemical safety laws. California’s Safer Consumer Products initiative, passed in August and went into effect on October 1, requires manufacturers to find safer alternatives to harmful chemical ingredients. Several leading companies just might also influence Congress. Walmart announced this fall that it will either eliminate or reduce about 10 toxic chemicals from products sold in its stores, including national and store-brand cosmetics. The products include cosmetics, personal and beauty products and household cleaners. In 2015, the retail giant will require its suppliers to reveal online the use of toxic chemicals, and in 2018, suppliers will have to list on packaging any remaining chemicals on Walmart’s list. Procter & Gamble, the largest consumer products manufacturer in the world, announced in September that it will remove the chemicals triclosan and diethyl phthalate (DEP) from all of its products by 2014.