California EPA Publishes Green Chemistry Policies

As part of its Green Chemistry Initiative, the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published its six policy recommendations to strengthen the protection of public health. According to the agency, these policy recommendations can lead to a new consumer product economy. The following are the agency's policy recommendations.

1. Expand Pollution Prevention and product stewardship programs to more business sectors to refocus additional resources on prevention rather than clean up.

2. Develop Green Chemistry Workforce Education and Training, Research and Development and Technology Transfer through new and existing educational programs and partnerships.

3. Create an Online Product Ingredient Network to disclose chemical ingredients for products sold in California, while protecting trade secrets.

4. Create an Online Toxics Clearinghouse, an online database of chemical toxicity and hazards populated with the guidance of a Green Ribbon Science Panel to help prioritize chemicals of concern and data needs.

5. Accelerate the Quest for Safer Products, creating a systematic, science-based process to evaluate chemicals of concern and alternatives to ensure product safety and reduce or eliminate the need for chemical-by-chemical bans.

6. Move Toward a Cradle-to-Cradle Economy to leverage market forces to produce products that are “benign-by-design” in part by establishing a California Green Products Registry to develop green metrics and tools (e.g., environmental footprint calculators, sustainability inducers) for a range of consumer products and encourage their use by businesses.

According to the agency's report, green chemistry provides a way to manufacture chemicals safely before they become hazards, with the goal of making chemicals and products “benign by design.” The plan plans to reduce the use of toxic substances before they contaminate the environment and consumers.

Among their many goals, the California EPA strives to one day create an online database disclosing ingredient in finished products sold in California. It also aims to train the workforce on green chemistry including courses in universities and public schools. The agency also plans to create incentives for businesses implementing green chemistry in addition to seeking data-sharing opportunities with other states. Finally, the agency plans to organize a panel to review and prioritize chemicals of concern.

The agency finds that these steps could lead to safer consumer products and a safer environment.

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