The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed a new ASTM standard that will assist manufacturers in evaluating chemical alternatives for consumer products.
The guidance document outlines social, economic and environmental considerations to be evaluated when comparing chemical alternatives. The guidance promotes a lifecycle perspective that emphasizes careful sourcing of raw materials, analyses of chemical ingredients and transport and disposal or recycling at the end of a products’ life.
Michael Schmeida, chairman of ASTM’s Committee on Sustainability (E60), which developed the guide says “the analysis in the new standard helps set the overall context of how green chemistry tools, such as assessment of alternatives and risks, can fit into the overall product development scheme within an organization.”
Schmeida emphasizes that most alternatives assessment tools focus on hazards or risks associated with specific chemicals and ingredients. ASTM’s standard, in contrast, examines a product’s lifecycle and holistically looks at all three attributes of sustainability, providing a framework for development of safe products.
ASTM’s new standard (E 3027) was developed in response to the California Safer Consumer Products Regulations (SCPR). The regulations will require manufacturers of regulated priority products to develop alternatives analyses.
The SCPR programs kicks off its regulation of its first three priority products this year, including chlorinated flame retardants in children’s bedding, Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) systems containing unreacted diisocyanates, and paint and varnish strippers and surface cleaners containing methylene chloride.
Schmeida speculates that ASTM may create guidance documents for specific industry groups in the future.
The standard, “Guide for making sustainability-related chemical selection decisions in the lifecycle of products,” was developed by a broad stakeholder group, which included industry representatives, NGOs and government agencies.
The standard is available from ASTM here.