Going Green & Making Green: Insights from a Sustainable Business Roundtable

There’s an unfortunate perception that environmental regulation — and even EPA’s voluntary programs — are at odds with economic growth. The reality is that growing numbers of leaders across industries and market sectors are seeking out and adopting sustainability initiatives and business models, and supporting prudent environmental regulation while maintaining a robust bottom line — proving you can make green while going green.

More than a dozen of these corporate leaders participated in a recent roundtable discussion hosted by the White House and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) that I had the honor of attending. I heard directly from Council members and partners who are working within their respective industries to advance social and environmental responsibility.

The discussion concentrated on chemical safety reform and EPA’s Green Chemistry  and Design for the Environment (DfE) initiatives.  The Council also presented independent research showing that consumers are increasingly “leaning green,” demanding more information on safety of ingredients in consumer products and factoring in product safety and sustainability when they purchase products.

EPA’s Green Chemistry and DfE programs are just two of our programs and initiatives that provide the tools and scientific knowledge to help businesses and consumers move toward sustainability, and encourage the development of greener chemicals and safer consumer products.

Examples include EPA’s recently launched database, ChemView, that is making available an unprecedented amount of information on chemicals that can help businesses make safer decisions. ChemView, along with the DfE and Green Chemistry programs are designed to assist companies that are working to become more environmentally responsible – and it’s working.  For example, in response to consumer demand, leading retailers Walmart and Sam’s Club announced that as of January 2014, their store-brand cleaning products will be evaluated against the DfE criteria and qualifying household products will carry the DfE label.

It’s my hope that with a growing number of business leaders focused on sustainability and equipped with the information they need to help make informed decisions, that safer chemicals and products will make their way to consumers, who are increasingly aware of the impacts their purchasing decisions have on the health of families and the environment. It’s also my hope that public-private partnerships and sustainable business models will result in  staggering savings in resources and reduced impacts on the environment and human health, and a healthier, sustainable economic future.

Meetings such as the one with ASBC help build understanding and open channels of communication between the Administration, Federal Agencies and the private sector. Most importantly, this meeting of successful leaders from diverse industries and sectors points to the growing awareness of environmental issues, and the recognition that sustainable economic development is compatible with shared prosperity and environmental protection.

Jim Jones is the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. He is responsible for managing the office which implements the nation’s pesticide, toxic chemical, and pollution prevention laws. Jim’s career with EPA spans more than 26 years. He has an M.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a B.A. from the University of Maryland, both in Economics.

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