Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment  [Printer-friendly version]
February 10, 2006


A new report released today [Feb. 10, 2006] by The Rose Foundation
for Communities and the Environment and published in the journal
Corporate Environmental Strategy provides investors and senior
corporate executives with a new tool for measuring corporate progress
in producing safer consumer products. The report also offers vignettes
of cutting edge actions by major companies to reduce the toxic
chemicals in their products.

Companies face growing challenges to their reputations and bottom
lines because of toxic chemicals in their products. Scientists are
finding chemicals in human blood and breast milk and voicing concern
about impacts on the health of infants, children, and fetuses.
Environmental health advocates have targeted cosmetics, electronics,
and health care product manufacturers. Investment companies are
raising questions and filing proxy resolutions.

But there are good business reasons for substituting safer chemicals
in products. Such shifts present a remarkable opportunity for
competitive advantage, reduced operating costs, increased profits, and
enhanced shareholder value.

The benchmarking tool highlights steps companies can take in the
following areas: making a corporate commitment to toxicity reduction
with measurable goals and public reporting; increased and more
effective public disclosure of business risks and opportunities
associated with chemicals in products; systematic review of the
chemical make-up of products and comparison with published lists of
high priority suspect chemicals; and greening corporate supply chains.

The benchmarking tool can be used by corporate managers to design
safer chemicals programs. A prime example of such an effort is SC
Johnson's trade-marked Greenlist program, which has successfully
reduced product toxicity and lowered costs. Other companies
highlighted include Samsung, Fujitsu, Nike, Marks & Spencer, and Boots
Group, PLC.

Investors can use the tool to screen and identify "best in class"
companies and raise questions with corporate management. It is
proposed as a "first generation" tool subject to further refinement
and upgrading.

"There are sound business reasons for reducing the health impacts of
many companies' products. Companies and investors that recognize this
dynamic will gain competitive advantage and position themselves to
make more money," said Tim Little, Executive Director of The Rose
Foundation in Oakland, California. Tim Smith, President of the Social
Investment Forum, commented, "It is increasingly important for
companies to be transparent in their disclosure of chemicals which
adversely affect people and our environment. It is also important for
investors, environmentalists and citizen groups to have access to such
information so that we can urge companies to be more responsible
environmental citizens." Darden Business School Professor Andrea
Larson, author of a forthcoming book on corporate innovation and the
environment, states "The innovative firms are creating opportunity
from what other companies see as only problems. Using green chemistry
principles and benchmarking tools they have moved beyond cost savings
to top line growth through strategic positioning of high performance
products without the health risk."

A condensed form of the report, "Benchmarking Corporate Management
of Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products -- A Tool for Investors and
Senior Executives" appears in the January-February 2005 issue of
Corporate Environmental Strategy, accessible at the Rose Foundation
Website. The complete version, "Protecting Public Health, Increasing
Profits and Promoting Innovation by Benchmarking Corporate Governance
of Chemicals in Products" is also available at the Rose Foundation
Website. The longer paper also provides annexes compiling shareholder
resolutions on environmental health, environmental health advocacy
websites, and pertinent state, local, and European policy enactments.

Dr. Richard A. Liroff, Senior Fellow in the Toxics Program at World
Wildlife Fund (Washington, D.C.) is the paper's author.

Short PDF version of the report as it was published in the Corporate
Environmental Strategy January/February 2005 issue

PDF version of the full report