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Harmonization Partnership Eases Material Health Gains for Manufacturers

Tags: material health certificate (5) , material health (6) , built environment (629)

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) is not alone in its commitment to healthy materials that are safe for all living systems. And thanks to partnerships with other industry groups, we’re making is easier on manufacturers to navigate the path toward optimization.

The Harmonization Task Group, a joint effort between C2CPII, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), the Health Product Declaration Collaborative, the Healthy Building Network, and GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals, is working 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 the Cradle to Cradle Certified Material Health Methodology guides manufacturers through these steps in partnership with a third-party-accredited assessor, we value the availability of tools that help manufacturers on the path toward optimization. To this end, we have negotiated and orchestrated two recent developments that signal leaps forward in our harmonization efforts: 

  • Health Product Declaration Collaborative has released the Health Product Declaration (HPD) v2, an inventory and disclosure format, that is now more closely aligned with the Cradle to Cradle Certified methodology for inventory to provide a better pathway between the two programs.
  • The International Living Future Institute’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, one of the 20 Imperatives in the Living Product Challenge. As a prerequisite to achieving Net Positive Material Health, a product must demonstrate no exposures to carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxicants. 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.

Cradle to Cradle Certified and the Health Product Declaration
Version 2 of the Health Product Declaration (HPD) Open Standard was released September 10, 2015, marking a major update of the program and a significant milestone in the harmonization efforts between the HPD Collaborative, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, and other organizations in the material health standard setting space. Significant parts of the new standard are based on the Cradle to Cradle Certified methodology for conducting a product chemical inventory, allowing for the first time to list chemicals in an HPD on a homogenous material basis rather than a whole product basis. Inventorying substances on a homogenous material basis allows for a more meaningful representation of the chemical composition of complex multi-material products and is a prerequisite for Cradle to Cradle Certification. 

Dr. Matteo Kausch, C2CPII’s Director of Technical Development and a member of the HPD Technical Committee that developed the new standard commented: "This revision of the HPD standard will greatly enhance the usability of the HPD for both users and creators. Additionally, the new version is far more aligned with the Cradle to Cradle Certified approach of conducting a chemical inventory thus allowing our stakeholders to more easily leverage their work on HPDs as a stepping stone toward Cradle to Cradle Certification."

Harmonization enables the HPD Open Standard to serve the data entry requirements of a number of other standards and certifications. This benefits both users and creators of product disclosures by helping to reduce redundant and overlapping data creation. 

Cradle to Cradle Certified and ILFI’s Net Positive Material Health Imperative
At the UnExpo in Pittsburgh in September, ILFI presented details of its 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 NPMH, one prerequisite is to demonstrate that there is no exposure 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 achieving Silver 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. 

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 manufacturers on the critical but difficult work of identifying and eliminating chemicals of concern. 

The Power of Collaboration
The organizations working on the Harmonization Task Group share an audacious goal: materials that are safe for humans and the environment.  We have different platforms and theories of change from which we lead these efforts, but we move beyond individual agendas to accelerate the movement toward safer chemistry for the benefit of the industry and the consumer.