Safe + Circular Materials Collaborative

Explored the challenges of safe and circular packaging materials and accelerating the transition to safer alternatives.

SPC Team Leads
Karen Hagerman, SPC Collaboratives Manager
Elizabeth Ritch, CleanGredients Manager
Stacy Glass, Executive Director
Lauren Heine, Ph.D., Director of Science

This Collaborative was a partnership effort between the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) and ChemFORWARD to address the challenges of safe and circular packaging materials and explore safer alternatives. This Collaborative was unique in its structure in that it ran concurrent to a pilot project in which members were invited to participate. The project, run by ChemFORWARD, collected, assessed, and verified member-supplied solutions for safe packaging building blocks and used the information to populate a shared registry of materials and functional additives. 

This Collaborative was ideal for forward-thinking leaders in the packaging supply chain who have a desire to go beyond regulations and take a leadership position in non-toxic and circular packaging, are actively supplying or searching for materials based on green and sustainable chemistry, believe that systems change is needed, and don’t want to go it alone.

This Collaborative is now closed. If you have questions, please email:


ChemFORWARD is a science-based non-profit organization that has created a globally trusted source of cost-effective chemical hazard data for safer alternatives to support a safe, circular, and equitable economy. ChemFORWARD will leverage its existing digital and process infrastructure and seed funding to support the collaboration. 


While the food packaging landscape is highly regulated in both the U.S. and Europe, scientists have made the case that current oversight legislation is woefully inadequate to protect human health and support circularity. In 2020, 33 scientists and 200+ environmental groups signed on to the “Impacts of Food Contact Chemicals on Human Health Consensus Statement “ (Muncke J, et al 2020, Environmental Health), warning that:

There is a clear need for packaging to contain chemicals that are less toxic to people, less polluting of the environment, and more suitable for circularity. To do this, we must optimize feedstock inputs that are safe and circular.  


The aim of this Collaborative is to support companies in their circular economy commitments with material building blocks that are safe for humans and the environment across the product life cycle, and that contribute quality inputs back to raw material feedstocks. This will be achieved through:

Proposed Scope and Goals

This Collaborative will take a comprehensive approach to inform decisions that will lead to safe and circular packaging materials. The focus will include compostable packaging for its ability to contribute high-quality feedstock material to the biological cycle and recyclable packaging for its ability to contribute to high-quality post-consumer feedstock for recycled content. The desired outcomes of this Collaborative are to:

  1. Focus industry efforts on the most hazardous chemicals, pathways of highest concern, and areas with the greatest potential to contribute to circularity. 
  2. Demonstrate the availability of verified safer alternatives in up to three priority functional areas.
  3. Develop a central repository of verified information on materials and functional additives to support safe and circular alternatives. 
  4. Establish a common agenda and organizing principles for a broader value chain collaboration (beyond the collaborative) to accelerate safer alternatives.

Interested in learning more?

SPC Collaboratives at
Stacy Glass, ChemFORWARD Executive Director at