Friday, August 1, 2014

Step 3: Identify Alternatives

Identifying alternatives opens up the potential for finding more efficient, safer, and more sustainable solutions. This step will help you get a clear overview of your different options.


After targeting a chemical for substitution efforts, it is important to broadly consider all possible chemical alternatives, material alternatives, process changes, design changes, technological solutions, or other options to eliminate the hazardous chemical, even if particular options may be currently infeasible.
When looking for chemical alternatives, material substitutes, or process changes for a particular application/use, it is best to begin with industry-specific information and case examples about what is currently being used in the market. From there you can usually identify specific companies that are using alternatives; these companies are often good resources for identifying other alternatives they may be aware of or have tried. Talking to suppliers, workers, industry associations, government officials, professional associations, and non-governmental organizations can also provide information on existing alternatives.
Specific resources have been developed for researching alternatives to hazardous chemicals. These resources include case studies of substitution (SUBSPORT, CatSub, IFCS), databases of alternatives (Alternativas (in Spanish only), CleanGredients®, Cleantool), as well as completed alternatives assessments (Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse). Performing a single search of multiple online resources related to substitution is another rapid way to identify possible alternatives.
Additionally, searching recent scientific literature may lead to discoveries of chemicals, materials, or processes that are being researched for the application, or for similar applications that have the same or similar performance requirements. The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute’s technical research library of pollution prevention and chemical alternatives resources can help you locate this type of information about alternative chemicals, materials, products, and processes.
Where no alternatives exist, consider partnering with other businesses or trade associations to initiate innovative research on safer products and processes.

Key Resource

SubsPort Website

Case Story Database

SUBSPORT’s Case Story Database provides over 300 substitution examples as well as information on alternative substances and technologies from businesses, published reports and other sources. Substances mentioned in the case stories are evaluated for hazards and screened out of the database if they are identified as CMRs (carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants), PBTs (persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals), endocrine disruptors, neurotoxicants, or sensitization agents.

Key Resource



CleanGredients® is an online database of safer cleaning product ingredients that is a unique partnership between the nonprofit institute GreenBlue, the U.S. EPA, and industry. GreenBlue establishes health and environmental criteria for each chemical ingredient class with the input and approval of the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment Program. The database lists a variety of chemical ingredient classes necessary for formulators to make their products, including: surfactants, solvents, fragrances, chelating agents, colorants, enzymes, defoamers, starter formulations, processing aids, oxidants, polymers, and preservatives and antioxidants. Each of the listed ingredients is verified by third-party reviewers (NSF International and ToxServices) as meeting the established environmental and human health criteria. In addition, the database provides supplier contact information, links to websites, material safety data sheets, and technical fact sheets for each of the listed ingredients. This resource helps formulators identify ingredients that have potential environmental and human health benefits and helps suppliers showcase their chemicals with potential environmental and human health benefits.

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