Safe + Circular Materials Collaborative
Exploring the challenges of safe and circular packaging materials and accelerating the transition to safer alternatives.
This Collaborative is 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 is unique in its structure in that it will run concurrent to a pilot project in which members are invited to participate. The project, run by ChemFORWARD, will collect, assess, and verify member-supplied solutions for safe packaging building blocks and use the information to populate a shared registry of materials and functional additives.
This Collaborative is 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.
Are you a current SPC member who wants to join the Collaborative?
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:
- Outdated and inadequate global regulations of chemicals in food packaging pose a growing risk to human health;
- There are critical gaps in information needed to assess risks and safeguard public health; and
- Efforts to achieve a circular economy must consider chemical safety.
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:
- Establishing priority functional areas and agreeing on criteria for safer alternatives that will have the most impact on circularity initiatives.
- Identifying, assessing (using third-party toxicologists and a globally harmonized methodology), and verifying safer alternatives in up to three priority functional areas.
- Developing a cloud-based registry of verified assessed material building blocks for use in food packaging.
- Exploring material health challenges related to packaging through discussion, engaging with experts, and sharing insights and innovative solutions.
- Collaborating on best practices and developing a common agenda to accelerate necessary systems change.
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:
- Focus industry efforts on the most hazardous chemicals, pathways of highest concern, and areas with the greatest potential to contribute to circularity.
- Demonstrate the availability of verified safer alternatives in up to three priority functional areas.
- Develop a central repository of verified information on materials and functional additives to support safe and circular alternatives.
- Establish a common agenda and organizing principles for a broader value chain collaboration (beyond the collaborative) to accelerate safer alternatives.