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Harmonization of Material Health Tools Leaps Forward

By Stacy Glass

Tags: harmonization (3)

Authored jointly by Stacy Glass and Greg Norris

Harmonization of Material Health Tools Leaps Forward

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) share a commitment that all products should be safe for all living systems.  Over the last two years, other non-profit organizations that share this commitment have worked together as part of the Harmonization Task Group.  These organizations include the ILFI, C2CPII, Health Product Declaration Collaborative, Healthy Building Network, GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals and BIFMA level standard. Together, the Harmonization Task Group has worked to achieve a clear pathway for manufacturers to pursue material health concerns. This pathway to material health involves four key stages: inventory (knowing what is in your product), screening (identifying known problematic substances), assessment (full toxicological evaluation of substances), and optimization (eliminating chemicals of concern).

While each of our systems (the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program and the Living Product Challenge) guides manufacturers to develop regenerative products in its own unique way, we are completely aligned in the process for identifying and eliminating chemicals of concern. To this end, we are pleased to announce that ILFI’s Living Product Challenge (LPC) recognizes the Cradle to Cradle Certified material health attribute achievement level and Material Health Certificate at the Silver level as a prerequisite to achieve Net Positive Material Health.  The process to achieve this prerequisite includes an inventory of a products materials and substances to 100 ppm, a toxicological assessment of those substances against 24 human and environmental endpoints, and a third-party verification that there is no exposure to carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants from manufacture to use, and likely if even unintended end of use scenarios.

Cradle to Cradle Certified and the Institute’s Net Positive Material Health Imperative

At the Living Product Expo in September 2015, ILFI presented details on the Net Positive Material Health Imperative that features alignment with the Harmonization Task Group’s critical steps to material health, which includes inventory, screening, assessment, and optimization of chemicals in products.

One of the 20 Imperatives in the Living Product Challenge is Net Positive Material Health. To be able to claim that a product has achieved Net Positive Material Health, one pre-requisite is to demonstrate that there are no exposures to carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants associated with the product.  One way to meet this prerequisite is via the Cradle To Cradle Certified products program with a material health attribute achievement level of Silver or higher, or achieving Silver or higher on the Material Health Certificate offered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

Until the prerequisite has been met, the product can be in “provisional” status but the company must have a plan in place to eliminate exposure to CMR’s and demonstrate progress to remain in the program. It cannot however claim to be “Net Positive on Material Health” while its status on this Imperative is provisional. 

There are three levels of certification within the LPC system: Imperative certification, Petal certification, and Full certification. Imperative certification, the lowest level of certification, requires that 7 of the 20 Imperatives have been met, including at least provisional status on NetPositive Material Health.  Petal and Full certifications are not possible while the status on Net Positive Material Health is provisional.

The Cradle to Cradle  Certified Material Health Methodology supports the Net Positive Material Health imperative by offering a scientific methodology that has been developed and tested over 15 years. Assessments are conducted by accredited assessors that are trained by C2CPII and have expertise in chemistry and toxicology. 

The recognition of the Cradle to Cradle Material Health Methodology in the Living Product Challenge is a strong statement of alignment between the organizations’ approach to chemicals of concern and to create ease for manufactures on the critical but difficult work of identifying and eliminating chemicals of concern.  After all, we share a common vision to encourage products that are safe for humans and the environment. ILFI is able to offer this cross recognition as a result of the rigor and depth of Cradle to Cradle’s scientific methodology and third-party certification program.

While the two organizations employ different approaches and theories to transformational change, our goals are the same and our approach to eliminating chemicals of concern is the same. C2CPII’s commitment to participate in the Living Building Challenge and harmonization with Declare and LPC reflects C2CPII’s respect for the visionary work of the Living Future Institute, and the ways that its work continues to help transform the built environment.

Moving From Harmonization to Implementation

ILFI and C2CPII join partners in the harmonization group in recognizing that the scaling of innovation and optimization for material health space requires increased creation and accessibility of information about material health hazards and the possibility of exposure.  To this end, the Net Positive Material Health Imperative incentivizes companies for investing in, and publicly sharing, assessments that build this accessible information resource. 

Development of the infrastructure and revenue models for widespread, scalable completion and sharing of assessments is a key need on which we are working together with our partners in the harmonization group. C2CPII, Google, and Healthy Building Network (HBN) will begin construction of a database in early 2016 for assessors that will enable contributions to HBN’s vision for a public Data Commons.

The Power of Collaboration

The organizations working on the Harmonization Task Group share an audacious goal: a materials economy that is safe for all living systems.  We have different platforms and theories of change from which we lead these efforts but we are pleased to move beyond individual agendas and collaborate to accelerate the movement toward safer chemistry for the benefit of industry and the consumer.