The gist is that government regulations (especially in the European Union) and consumer concerns about chemicals are inspiring all kinds of companies to phase-out the big bad toxins they use and replace them with safer alternatives. And in a global marketplace, the decision to ban something one place often ripples out to other places as companies simply decide to reformulate their products to meet the strictest standards they face rather than deal with selling different formulas in different markets.
Even more extraordinary (given the history here) is the fact that many companies are voluntarily making changes and launching their own chemical phase-outs because they think they see some handwriting on the wall and they want to avoid what the report calls “toxic lockouts,” i.e. having their products shut out of a market because they contain newly banned substances.”
I’ve been dealing with issues related to toxic consumer products since 1992. And for much of that time, I’ve been pretty pessimistic that meaningful change was ever going to come. But things feel different these days. I’ve never seen anywhere near the current level of conversation about toxics that I’m seeing now. From governments to corporate board rooms to living rooms, people are talking and thinking about these things where they never were before and in very serious ways, too.
I mean when Wal-Mart says it’s going to pressure suppliers to stop using persistent organic chemicals in products the company sells in its stores, there’s a sea change happening, and even the most jaded among us has to sit up and take notice. It’s nothing short of incredible. That said, we’re still very much at the start of our detoxification journey rather than the end. But this bus would appear to be turning onto the freeway whereas before we couldn’t even get it out of the garage.