Our focus on innovating safer materials is grounded in our purpose: to deliver a sustainable future through our materials science expertise. More than 96% of the world’s manufactured goods are enabled by chemistry, and the potential of chemistry to bring social and environmental value alongside business value is limitless. We are committed to innovating and bringing safer materials to the market by continuously evaluating and improving how we measure, design, manufacture, report and act on the impact of our materials to people and the planet. We also are engaging with customers, regulators and communities.
We are building upon our foundational successes and learnings, stemming from our commitment to safety within our fence line, our product risk management processes (detailed on the next page), and our vision for a future where every material we bring to market is sustainable for people and our planet. This Safer Materials focus area will set us on a trajectory to drive environmental and health benefits that help lead the transition to a more sustainable planet and society.
Within the halls of Dow, Rich, a research leader, is well known as a mentor to many on life cycle assessment (LCA). He advises Dow businesses on the use of LCA and has been an innovator of, and advocate for, the use of simple tools to apply life cycle thinking. He began using LCA in 2003. Since then, he has led dozens of LCA projects, including many that have been published and presented externally. LCA is a methodology that is designed to help businesses measure and quantify the end-to-end environmental and economic impacts of a product, process or service. It can be used to identify opportunities for innovation, differentiate products in the marketplace and create sustainable value for a business.
Rich is also recognized externally for his LCA leadership. In 2018, he was awarded the Rita Schenck Lifetime Individual LCA Leadership Award by the American Council for Life Cycle Assessment for his significant impact on the field and profession of LCA.
As consumer interest in sustainability continues to increase, many cosmetic manufacturers are seeking more natural emulsifiers and ingredients for their products. Our awardwinning SunSpheres™ BIO SPF (Sun Protection Factor) Booster is a bio-based and readily biodegradable SPF booster that enables greater SPF efficiency in sun care and daily wear SPF products.
Derived from wood pulp certified through the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, the innovative SPF booster reduces dependence on UV actives and works with both organic and inorganic UV filters. In addition to SPFboosting properties, SunSpheres™ BIO SPF Booster also functions as a multifunctional ingredient, delivering stabilizing, thickening and shear thinning benefits. In 2020, it was named Sustainability Product of the Year by the Business Intelligence Group.
As a responsible corporate citizen, Dow continues to use a well-defined process for assessing and managing risks in the face of uncertainty. This process is science-based, ensuring decision-making includes an appropriate evaluation of risk and benefits. It applies to current products as well as those under development.
We support a precautionary approach as set out in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and view the precautionary principle as an application of the principles of risk assessment and risk management.
Risk assessment includes hazard identification, characterization, exposure assessment and risk assessment. Risk management encompasses the identification, selection and implementation of alternative actions for addressing risk through the control of identified hazards(s) and/or exposure.
We believe that approaches should be risk-based and cost-effective. Additionally, the selected chemical management approach should be:
All products are assessed in an appropriate manner – depending upon environmental health and safety (EH&S) profile, application and exposure potential – for improvement opportunities as part of Dow’s EH&S management approach at each stage of the product life cycle.
The human and environmental risks of all our products are characterized using Dow’s risk characterization process/tool. The tool requires the assessment of hazard and exposure information to identify the appropriate risk tier. The risk tier then determines the required actions and reviews for the Product Stewardship program, including EH&S information, Business Risk Review requirements and distributor/customer support.
Our businesses utilize the Business Risk Review process to assess and minimize possible adverse impact on people, property and the environment as a result of our business activity, including minimizing EH&S impacts associated with new and existing products, applications and services throughout the product’s life cycle. Businesses are required to conduct risk reviews when new information is received, including changes in product uses, chemical regulations or raw materials; when new health and safety data are generated; or when triggered, in certain cases, by the passage of time.
Improvement opportunities have been identified to clarify and strengthen these triggers. How frequently risk reviews should be repeated is determined by the risk tier for the product/application identified by Dow’s product risk characterization tool. In this process, and through the use of supporting processes and tools, health and safety impacts are assessed with respect to new product development, manufacture of product, transportation and distribution, use of product at customer facilities, and recycle, reuse or disposal. Risk mitigation measures are identified and implemented as a direct result of the Business Risk Review work process. Various product stewardship efforts such as distributor and customer qualifications and industry advocacy work are examples of involvement in the storage, distribution, supply and use steps of product life.
We are actively listening and engaging with stakeholders to advance the development and adoption of sustainable materials and practices as part of our Safe Materials for a Sustainable Planet Goal. We are working to understand and positively respond to growing pressure against chemicals of concern in the marketplace as part of our commitment to delivering the sustainable materials of tomorrow and enabling a circular economy. One way we have done this is through meetings with individual customers to evaluate chemicals of concern and develop innovative solutions.
By actively engaging with external stakeholders to lead a candid conversation on product safety, we are proactively supporting safe material handling practices and the development of sound regulatory paradigms in developing regions. For example:
Overall, these efforts are part of our commitment to ensure the safe handling, use and management of our products and work with stakeholders throughout the value chain toward our common goal of ensuring product safety and sustainability.