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Facilitating Chemical Data Flow Along Supply Chains

Background

Many companies in the GC3 are spending significant resources gathering chemical data from their supply chain for regulatory compliance, green product design and certification programs and chemical disclosure initiatives.  The effort of this project group is to advance the efforts of these companies.

Current Project

This year the workgroup is focused on assessing how best to optimize B2B chemical information transactions that involve CBI concerns.  Many requests by customers in supply chains can be met by their suppliers without difficulty.  But the scope of some of these business-to-business (B2B) information requests can raise concerns about compromising confidential business information (CBI).  At the outset, the project group developed a matrix to illuminate the various situations in which CBI issues could arise in B2B chemical information transactions.  By connecting the types of potentially sensitive information that might be requested with the various reasons for those requests, we created a roadmap for the project group to explore mechanisms, either currently in use or still needed, for protecting CBI while facilitating information transfers in these different contexts.

During 2012-2013, the project group explored current approaches and issues for handling CBI information through a series of webinars and discussions.   During an initial discussion of CBI issues with Mark Greenwood (Greenwood Environmental), the project group identified several factors that strongly influence the B2B flow of chemical data that involves potentially sensitive or confidential business information: relative market power of the parties to the supply-chain transaction; clearly communicated reason for, and perceived legitimacy of, information request; types of information requested (e.g., data on ingredients, health & environmental safety, process and/or business factors);  and degree of trust between parties to the transaction.  In subsequent webinars, representatives of organizations with different perspectives on supply chain transactions (Walmart, Durst Organization, Healthy Building Network, Herman Miller, MBDC, 7th Generation, Segetis) explored alternative approaches to protecting legitimately sensitive information while facilitating increased chemical data communication and transparency (e.g., various CDA arrangements and use of 3rd-parties trusted by both participants in a chemical-data information transaction).

The project group plans to develop and complete a roadmap for facilitating sensitive/CBI data transactions during 2013, and to publish a GC3 report.

Past Accomplishments

This workgroup developed a number of deliverables in previous years, including: in-depth case studies of how Nike, SC Johnson & HP meet the challenges of gathering chemical data information from their supply chains; a guidance document for suppliers on meeting customers’ needs for chemical data; and an evaluation of the benefits and methods of standardizing chemical data collection systems in business supply chains.  All three reports are available on the Publications page.

For more information or to join the project group, contact Bob Kerr.

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