The Retailer Winter Edition 2023




Craig Rowlands Principal R&D Engineer UL Solutions

T oday’s manufacturers can face challenges in devel oping safe, sustainable products. Sustainable chemis try and UL Solutions can help. Manufacturers and retailers face growing demands for sustainable products and envi ronmentally friendly processes. Whether they need to meet regulations or consumers’ desires, many turn to sustainable and socially responsible practices, such as carbon-neutral or zero-waste manufacturing. However, one part of product development that businesses may overlook is sustainable chemistry. Developing sustainable consumer products requires understanding their chemical compo sition and sustainablymanufacturing chemicals. This allows companies to be sure the materi als and processes involved in production will not harm people or the environment. Green chemistry—manufacturing chemicals through sustainable methods — is crucial in developing sustainable consumer products. Manufacturing sustainable productsmay require reformulating materials to replace problematic chemicals. Manufacturers should start by check ing Manufacturing Restricted Substance Lists (MRSL) and Restricted Substance Lists (RSL) for chemicals used in their products. These lists provide information about regulations and laws that limit or exclude specific chemicals and substances in consumer products. Any listed substances found in a product need replacement. Selecting sustainable chemicals


Choosing alternative chemicals can be complex; theymust meet the same or similar functional properties, have more favorable hazard profiles and be economically feasible for the manu facturer. Additionally, not every problematic chemical is included inMRSLs or RSLs. Potential alternative chemicals should undergo a chemi cal hazard assessment for possible unacceptable human health and environmental hazards. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published guidance for identifying and selecting safer chemical alternatives.1 OECD emphasizes hazard and exposure as key considerations and follows the principles of risk assessment rather than hazard assessment alone. Both RSLs and Chemical Alternative Assessment frameworks are included in some UL sustainability Standards, including UL110, the Standard for Sustainability forMobile Phones, and ECOLOGO® Standards for formulated products. If no alternative chemical is available to replace a problematic one, it may be necessary to man ufacture a newchemical. The principles of green chemistry and sustainable chemistry provide guidance for developing suitable alternatives. Green chemistry focuses on designing and manufacturing chemicals more sustainably with lower hazard profiles without sacrificing functional properties and economic viability.2 Sustainable chemistry, however, is a compre hensive framework that considers the role of chemicals within a circular economy.3 It incorporates green chemistry while consider ing whether chemicals and materials can be replaced through product design changes and whether the product can be replaced through other services or approaches. Regardless of the method, the outcome should be the develop ment of green chemicalswith acceptable health and environmental safety profiles. Developing sustainable chemicals

Sustainable chemistry is a comprehensive frame work that considers the role of chemicals within a circular economy of products.”

Using sustainable chemicals in a circular economy Sustainability practices are moving toward a circular economy, which is an economic model designed to produce safer and useful products while minimizing resource inputs, waste and emissions. Circularity looks at the whole value chain — keeping materials and products in cir culation as long as possible, creating as much value as possible and recycling components or materials into new products at the end of each product or service life. Some develop circular products by manufac turing products using recycled materials as raw ingredients. However, this necessitates assessing recycled raw ingredients and their material composition for problematic chemicals retained or created in the recycling processes. Additionally, producers of recycled raw ingredi ents will continue to face pressure from brand owners to stay within the allowed limits of restricted substances and the performance characteristics of recycled raw ingredients and materials, assessing these through testing, veri fication and certification. Using green chemicals to manufacture raw ingredients can reduce the chance of introducing harmful chemicals to the process and product.

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