Full Material Disclosure and Life Cycle Assessment – Keys to Compliance and Market Share

Does it seem like you see an announcement of a new environmental regulation every month?

That is exactly right! In today’s global economy many companies have a global component in the supply chain and customer base. One thing you can count on is that concern for the environment and product safety will continue to drive new initiatives and regulations to improve product quality and safety for the consumer and the environment. These concerns reach into everything from product development, qualification, production, international shipment and eventually the recycling of a product at the end of its life cycle. Let us look at a snapshot of the regulation curve for just one set of regulations: REACH.

As discussed in the blog post REACH: The Saga Continues, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has estimated that 440 basic substances are expected to be reviewed formally for eventual placement on the list of REACH substances of very high concern (SVHC) Candidate List by 2020. Additionally, there are subsets of chemicals under separate lists for various consideration which brings the total to over 1000 substances of concern to manufacturers that will likely be reviewed. This brings up a lot of questions.

  • Which chemicals will be added next?
  • When will those new substances of high concern be added to the list?
  • What can you do to get ahead of the regulation curve?
  • How can you turn this into a competitive advantage for your company?

The best answers to these questions may very well be found in the simple sounding initiatives of full material disclosure (FMD) and life cycle assessment (LCA), also known as life cycle analysis. However, these initiatives are not as simple as one may think. When it comes to FMD, are you able to quickly and effortlessly find the data you need like a name or a CAS number on every chemical substance/compound found in every part in the product your company manufactures? The efforts for an LCA are just as challenging. Are you able to easily gather data on how much energy is used to produce every single product that your company manufactures? Does your company track the energy and water usage in daily manufacturing operations?

While at first glance, these initiatives may sound simple but to bring into practice across your product development teams and entire supply chain will require a persistent and focused effort.
To start, your organization will need to develop the processes and programs that will provide data based facts to ensure your products are in full compliance with regulations needed to import, advertise and ultimately sell into the broadest possible markets around the world. When implemented, FMD enables your company to get ahead of the regulatory curve. Ultimately your products may stand above the competition in independently confirmed compliance. LCA can also provide your organization with data on reductions in greenhouse gas generation, energy consumption/carbon footprints and programs to create a more environmentally friendly product that is of in increasing importance in the marketplace.

Environmental compliance regulations are on a trend that continue to require more effort and cost. By implementing initiatives of FMD and LCA you will minimize costs by getting your supply chain and product environmental impact data from the design phase and supplier qualification phase. This decreases the contacts and effort (read that as costs) for your internal teams, contracted teams and your suppliers. This gives you a competitive edge over the companies contending with you for market share. Effectively implementing an FMD policy for all products from the design phase through current production will get your company ahead of any new substance regulations and have the answers for regulatory agencies, customs officials, etc., at your fingertips without the need to survey all your supply chain. You have your answers faster and at less cost than your competition.

WSP’s team of product compliance experts can help you get answers to these questions and achieve the results you are looking for. Ultimately, WSP can help you make data driven decisions that will enable you to reduce risk in the supply chain and market the successes of environmental impact reduction programs. Please contact Tord Dennis for additional details on FMD and Julie Sinistore for  information on LCA.

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