ICPHSO Recap: Trends In The Future Of Sustainability
Beth McCalister, Senior Regulatory Consultant at Compliance & Risks, attended this year’s ICPHSO Annual Symposium in National Harbor, Maryland, where sustainability was one of the common themes.
The hot sustainability topics of ICPHSO this year were:
- Designing sustainable/ recyclable products
- The future of [sustainable] packaging
- How do sustainability and product safety affect each other?
“The Role of Material Certifications as Consumer Products March Toward Sustainability”
This session explored how certifications like the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and the Recycled Content Standard (RCS) work to verify sustainability claims. It also brought to light the practicality and profitability of creating materials that are recyclable and how these materials factor in with product safety and regulatory compliance.
“Safe Sustainable Packing? An Exploration of the Future of Product Packaging”
This panel informed attendees on what companies are currently doing to be proactive in moving toward incorporating sustainable – or less – packaging. Speakers touched upon risks and costs, such as misleading the consumer (greenwashing) about how sustainable the company’s actions are, efforts on claim validation and documentation, the quality and efficiency of ‘greener’ packaging material, and so on. This session reminded attendees to acknowledge what the consumer is looking for. What are the consumers’ demands? Do they want recycled content? Is recyclability of packaging important to them?
“Product Safety in the Future Age of Responsibility”
It is important for companies to embrace the goals of a circular economy early so that they can work to provide both sustainability and product safety. This session informed upon specific ways in which to do so, including:
- Relying on renewable energy;
- Working in smarter buildings;
- Reducing water usage; and
- Having a plan for equipment that has reached the end of its life.
A few more key takeaways of this panel were:
- Sustainability can breed innovation.
- For recalls, offer the most sustainable option/s (considering economic feasibility).
- You can have a safe product that is not sustainable, but you cannot have a dangerous product that is sustainable.
- Know what goes into your product, introduce a tracking system for dangerous chemicals (in consideration of chemicals in recycled content), make these more dangerous components inaccessible.
- Increase product lifespan (reparability) and consider warnings and accessibility to information (secondhand goods).
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