Design for the Environment
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to Prevent Pollution
OPPT’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program focuses on collaborating with industries that possess the potential for chemical risk reduction and a strong motivation to make lasting changes. DfE convenes representatives from those industries and environmental groups in partnership programs that evaluate alternative technologies, materials and process improvements based on human health and environmental considerations, as well as performance and cost.
As incentives for participation and driving change, DfE offers unique technical tools, methodologies, and expertise. EPA also allows safer products to carry the Design for the Environment (DfE) label. This mark allows consumers to quickly identify and choose products that are safer for families and can help protect the environment.
Having the DfE label on a product means that an EPA scientific review team has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that -- based on currently available information, EPA predictive models, and expert judgment -- the product contains only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class. The DfE program has allowed use of their label on hundreds of products.
The DfE Program has reached more than 200,000 business facilities and approximately 2 million workers and is reducing the use of chemicals of concern by approximately 180 million pounds per year.
- On April 21, 2007, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. awarded EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program its 2007 Design for Recycling Award. The DfE program was chosen for its overall leadership in creating innovative design partnerships and its dedication to empowering businesses and industry sectors to incorporate environmental considerations into decision-making processes.
- DfE's Formulator Safer Product Recognition Program, which by June 2008 had about 80 stakeholder partners and allowed use of DfE’s label on approximately 500 safer products, distinguishes products that have been reformulated to be environmentally safer, cost competitive and effective.
By providing chemical and toxicological information and suggesting safer substitutes, the Formulator Program reduced the use of an estimated 240 million pounds of chemicals of concern from January 2007 through June 2008. Formulator Partnerships have become respected and sought-after in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector. The DfE program is now working to create partnerships in the consumer cleaning products sector. Read more information about partners and recognized products authorized to use the DfE label.
- DfE created the voluntary Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI) to promote the use of safer surfactants in cleaning and other products. Safer surfactants are those that degrade quickly into non-toxic products. DfE has worked with outside parties to develop a database of safer cleaning product ingredients called CleanGredients that serves as a marketplace for the product formulation industry. As of 2007, a total of 12 chemical manufacturers have paid to list 87 cleaning-product chemicals in the system, and more than 200 formulators have paid to use the system. EPA held the SDSI Recognition Ceremony on November 19, 2008, and recognized 40 Champions and 21 Partners.
- The DfE Wire and Cable Partnership was formed in 2007 to evaluate the impacts of standard and alternative wire and cable formulations. The wire and cable partnership is using a life-cycle assessment approach to assess heat stabilizers, flame retardants, and polymer systems used in wire and cable insulation and jacketing. A study by the DfE Toxics Use Reduction Institute Wire & Cable Partnership will help companies make environmentally sound product and material choices and reduce overall environmental and health impacts of the products. DfE will complete a partnership report in 2008.
- The DfE Nail Salons Project was formed to collect and provide information on personal protective equipment and management practices that can reduce or minimize risks associated with chemical exposures in nail care activities. In March 2007, DfE published online the revised best practices guide, Protecting the Health of Nail Salon Workers (PDF) (21 pp., 1M, About PDF). This guide is designed to educate nail salon owners and employees of potential chemical hazards and to recommend best practices to minimize health and environmental risks in their shops. Translations of this guide in Vietnamese and Korean were also made available online.
Read more information on the DfE Program and its partnership projects, and other sections of this report for information on DfE’s collaboration with the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Program and its work through the Resources Conservation Challenge.