Safer chemicals for manufacturers

Product manufacturers are uniquely positioned to select safer chemicals and design more sustainable products. Manufacturers can achieve this by:

  • Supporting supply chain transparency.
  • Identifying toxic chemicals for replacement.
  • Switching to less toxic chemicals.
  • Certifying their products.

Learn how manufacturers can assess their current products, formulate or reformulate their products using safer chemicals, and how to achieve third-party certification.

How to ensure products and processes use safer chemicals

There are five distinct steps manufacturers need to follow to confirm their products and processes use safer chemicals.

Step 1: Create a chemical inventory

To assess the chemical safety of your current product and to identify if your product and manufacturing process contain any chemicals of concern, the most effective first step is to create a chemical inventory:

  • Review the safety data sheet (SDS).
  • Contact your supplier(s) for a full list of chemicals used in the materials you get from them.

Not all chemicals are disclosed within an SDS. Contact your supplier for a comprehensive list.

Step 2: Screen for chemicals known to have hazards of high concern

Check the chemical inventory you made in Step 1 using one of these chemical hazard databases. These databases screen against many hazard and warning lists to help you assess if any chemicals in your inventory have hazard traits of high concern, such as those known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm:

Each of these tools assigns scores to chemicals and the most hazardous scores are typically flagged as red.

Step 3: Identify potential chemical alternatives

If you identify chemicals of high concern that you’d like to replace, we recommend you determine what alternatives are available. To do this, you can:

  • Talk to your supplier about your concerns with the existing chemical(s).
  • Ask your supplier for alternatives that:
    • Serve the same function.
    • Are low hazard, which is ideally demonstrated by a thorough chemical hazard assessment or material health certification.

If your supplier cannot provide you with a less hazardous alternative chemical to serve your desired function, we recommend these databases that allow you to search for alternatives.

Step 4: Conduct an alternatives assessment

If you are looking to replace a chemical of high concern and have found some alternatives, we recommend you conduct an alternatives assessment to help confirm that your selected chemical alternatives are indeed safer, or at least a chemical hazard assessment. This will prevent you from replacing one chemical with another that has similar, worse, or unknown toxic effects.

We recommend the following alternatives assessment guides, which include chemical hazard assessment modules:

A chemical hazard assessment is used to assess the human and environmental health hazards of chemicals and to demonstrate that the minimum criteria is met to identify an alternative as safer.

Step 5: Certify your product 

Once you have assessed that your product does not contain chemicals of high concern, consider certifying your product through one or more of the following certifications:

Certification reimbursement programs

If you are a U.S.-based manufacturer that sells products in Washington and you want to get your product certified, we have two programs you may qualify for to receive reimbursement for costs related to certification:

You may only qualify for one program. If you are unsure which program to apply for, please contact us.

Why certify your products?

Manufacturers have the potential to stand out and benefit from certifying their products through:

  • Potential revenue boosts: Consumers and businesses seek products that have been verified by a trusted third party to contain safer chemicals. Retailers recognize and promote certified products (e.g., Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly).
  • Brand recognition: Certification promotes your company as one that is invested in protecting the health of its workers, consumers, and environment.
  • Future-proofing products: Certification reduces the likelihood that you will need to reformulate again to meet the next regulation.

Frequently asked questions