Business and Academic Partnerships for Safer Chemicals

Following the 2010 GC3 Innovators Roundtable, a project group was formed to develop and pilot a new collaboration between companies and universities to evaluate safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. The aim was to generate information on alternatives to support chemical substitution decision-making by GC3 companies and their supply chain partners. The goal was to pool knowledge and costs for evaluations to create robust results.

The model was developed through a pilot project focused on identifying and evaluating alternatives to known toxic phthalate plasticizers in wire & cable applications. The original workplan called for an assessment of the relative hazard/safety of the alternatives, as well as evaluations of technical performance and cost.

Highlights of the Plasticizer Pilot Project

The following companies, government agencies and NGOs met on monthly calls to provide direction and input on the project: BASF, Dow Chemical, Hallstar, Teknor Apex, Dell, EMC, HP, Schneider Electric, PolyOne, Staples, Washington State Dept. of Ecology, Clean Production Action, and Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center. The companies involved are all important players in the electronic product value chain: plasticizer chemical manufactures/suppliers, plastic compounders, brands and a retailer.

The project is now complete. Nine plasticizers, selected by the workgroup, were evaluated by ToxServices using Clean Production Action's (CPA) GreenScreen™ Method. Project group members reviewed the Draft GreenScreen™ assessments and provided additional data and comments. ToxServices incorporated the data and addressed comments, as appropriate, in revisions to the GreenScreens™. Interim draft assessments and all comments received were posted on a password-protected webpage for the project group to access.

You can view a summary presentation on the project from the 2013 GC3 Innovators Roundtable.

A brief project summary report is available.

Project Outcomes

The project yielded detailed chemical hazard assessments of nine plasticizers for wire and cable applications. Four of these GreenScreen™ assessments have been "verified" (i.e., subjected to rigorous peer review) through a protocol developed by CPA. These assessments are considered "final." The other five are considered "draft."

The project group decided not to pursue performance and cost assessments of the alternative plasticizers as part of this project. In lieu of a performance assessment, the group chose to compile links to technical specifications and performance information for the plasticizers evaluated, provided by plasticizer manufacturers.

What We Learned from the Project

Through this effort, the project group learned that these types of collaborative assessments are possible, and that the collaborative process can yield more information and more robust assessments than might have otherwise been feasible if the assessments were done by an individual company or other organization.

Companies in the project group said that it is highly beneficial to have an independent assessment of chemical alternatives, for their own decision-making purposes and for internal and external communication.

We were challenged by the lack of toxicology data for some chemicals and the

An article on the project was published in GreenBiz.com and a more detailed description of the project will be published in May, 2013, in a Royal Society of Chemistry book on Chemical Alternatives Assessment.

For more information on the project, contact Monica Becker.