The Louisville Charter for Safer Chemicals
December 3, 2005


Why Louisville?

Louisville, Kentucky, USA is home to the area known as "Rubbertown,"
which has eleven industrial facilities releasing millions of pounds
per year of toxic air emissions -- one-third of all reported toxic
releases in Kentucky. The surrounding community is 60% African
American. In May 2004, Louisville hosted a meeting of a network of
groups and individuals whose common goal is to work together on
chemical policies and campaigns to protect human health and the
environment from exposures to unnecessary harmful chemicals.
Participants named the Charter after this city to honor it and all
the communities across the country and around the world committed to
ending toxic chemical contamination.

Some Practical Applications of the Louisville Charter & Background

You are encouraged to use the charter for safer chemicals. Here you
will find some practical applications of the Charter. While these are
just a few applications of the Louisville Charter it shows how broadly
the document can be applied and the great need for broad input
contribution from environmental justice and health groups, as well as
organizations focusing of public access and worker protection, to make
real these and other goals, such as adoption of national chemical
policy that protects us all.

Legislative Policy Application

Several states including but not limited to California, Maine, New
York, and Washington, have been running substantive chemical issue
campaigns as a way to achieve phase outs of those chemicals. Chemical
focuses include dioxin, PVC, arsenic, mercury, and brominated flame
retardants, among others. Several states have a goal to achieve
wholesale chemical policy reform (not chemical by chemical bans but
bans of whole chemical classes). The Louisville Charter could become
the basis of policy re-making at the state level. Likewise, local
groups can advocate that metro environmental boards with oversight of
various agencies adhere to the fundamental principles of the Charter
in all their activities. Ultimately, with support by state, municipal
and local groups and governments, as well as progressive businesses, a
national chemical policy reform effort around the principles of the
Charter for Safer Chemicals could be launched.

Market Initiatives

There are several market campaigns (focused on users of chemicals)
that are in a position to advocate that their allies/targets adopt a
wholesale chemical policy, like that outlined in the Charter for Safer
Chemicals, because they have already agreed to phase out certain
chemicals in their product lines. These include campaigns on the auto
industry, the cosmetics industry, the computer industry, the
electronics industry, the health care sector and others. By using the
principles of the Charter for Safer Chemicals businesses can take the
business lead on instituting just chemical policies that restrict the
demand for, use and disposal of products containing unnecessary
chemical toxics. Campaigns at the legislative and production levels
benefit from adoption of the Charter for Safer Chemicals among major
business purchasers and users.

Corporate Engagement

The growth of Clean Production in the manufacturing sector is a keen
example of progress towards safer chemical innovation. The Charter for
Safer Chemicals could be a common set of principles that manufacturers
adopt about which chemicals they use and release and how they interact
with workers and the public, particularly their immediate neighbors.
Key principles of the Charter have already had great success in
certain states. For example, in Massachusetts, the Toxic Use Reduction
Act requires that companies (over 550 of them in the state) assess
their toxic use reduction options, which include material substitution
and product reformulation (key tenets in the Charter). Within the past
10 years these companies have reduced their use of toxic chemicals by
40%, by-product waste by 58% and toxic emissions by 80%. A cost
benefit analysis shows the same companies saved $14 million over the
same period.

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