In October 2006, Clean Production Action convened 22 organizations (mostly businesses and environmental groups) in Boston to discuss opportunities for mutually promoting safer chemicals and sustainable materials. The meeting participants –which included leaders from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Kaiser Permanente, Nike, Whole Foods Market, Health Care Without Harm, the Healthy Building Network, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Ecology Center and the Electronics TakeBack Coalition—agreed to the formation of BizNGO and penned the BizNGO mission: To promote the creation and adoption of safer chemicals and sustainable materials in a way that supports market transitions to a healthy economy, healthy environment, and healthy people.
The genesis for the 2006 meeting in Boston was Clean Production Action’s report, Healthy Business Strategies for Transforming the Toxic Chemical Economy. In that report, we extracted from six case studies a range of strategies employed by leading companies to manage chemicals and materials in their products. The study found that, while the companies’ individual actions to address toxic chemicals vary, their best practices, when gathered together, defined the terrain of healthy chemical strategies:
- identify all chemicals in products
- eliminate high-hazard chemicals
- strive to use only green chemicals
- commit to product redesign
- take responsibility for products cradle-to-cradle
- adopt internal chemical policies
- work collaboratively with environmental advocates; and
- publicly support government reform of chemical policies
At the time of the release of Healthy Business Strategies, advocacy organizations were conducting market campaigns to transform chemical and material use in specific industry sectors. These market campaigns, which are still active today, engaged the electronics, health care, personal care, and building sectors because of their power to transform markets through purchasing and end-of-life product management decisions.
Seeing the alignment between the best practices of business leaders and the vision and demands of the market campaigns, Clean Production Action convened the October 2006 meeting to discuss opportunities for mutually promoting safer chemicals and sustainable materials.