Green Through the Life Cycle

Choosing the right set of ingredients with which to make nearly any consumer product is critical to determining the overall social, economic and ecological impact of the product over the course of its existence. A proposed new ASTM International standard, WK40619, Guide for Making Chemical Selection Decisions in the Life Cycle of Products, will function as a template that helps companies analyze how any one chemical's use has social, economic and ecological implications at each stage of a product's lifecycle.

This guide will help companies follow a process, document and rationalize how to incorporate sustainability into their business decisions related to products and ingredients.

Michael Schmeida, corporate manager of stewardship at the Oatey Co., notes the following two influences on the development of the new standard:

  • The Safer Consumer Products regulation in California includes a requirement for alternatives analysis over the stages of a product's life cycle. However, the regulation does not define what this analysis is or how it should be performed.
  • As alternatives assessment has become more common, both through regulation and systems such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, companies need to know what to do with information resulting from such assessments, for example, how to couple this information with economic data and customer feedback to create a new product.

"This standard would be used by manufacturers or their consultants in performing these analyses to either defend existing technology or develop next generation technologies that will fulfill the sustainability goals of a business," says Schmeida, chair of ASTM International Committee E60 on Sustainability. In addition, the standard could be used by trade associations and other ASTM committees to develop standards that are more geared toward a narrower scope of product types.

"Green building systems and codes could potentially use the proposed standard as a means of meeting green chemistry credits and goals," says Schmeida. "Regulators could reference it as a compliance path for their green chemistry regulations."

The proposed standard will pertain to nearly all consumer products, with the exception of those that are governed by very specific programs and regulations, such as firearms, explosives, pharmaceuticals and fuels.

WK40619 is being developed by Subcommittee E60.80 on General Sustainability Standards, which invites all interested parties to join in its activities. E60.80 is part of ASTM Committee E60.

CONTACT Technical Information: Michael Schmeida, The Oatey Company • Cleveland, Ohio • tel +1.216.898.3469 | ASTM Staff: Stephen Mawn • tel +1.610.832.9726 | Upcoming Meeting: April 28-May 1 • April Committee Week • Anaheim, Calif.

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