ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Companies, ranging from Nike to Dow, Steelcase, Herman Miller, Staples and others are looking at new and innovative ways to design and make safer consumer products.  More than 40 leading companies from the retail, footwear, auto, furniture, building, home, beauty and healthcare sectors will convene at NSF International in Ann Arbor this week (May 9-11) to discuss how to effectively produce safer products for consumers.  Media are invited to attend plenary and keynote sessions.

The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) Innovator’s Roundtable will address opportunities and challenges, including:

  • the available knowledge and information on product chemical contents and toxicity,
  • resources to evaluate chemicals in products and apply safer alternatives, and
  • examples of supply chain collaborations to promote safer products. 

GC3 is a business-to-business organization of more than 70 companies that helps support the design and application of safer chemicals and products. Some of the conference topics include: greening the textile industry, the auto sector's journey towards safer and greener chemical design, and bio-based solvents for cleaning products.

The conference will feature keynotes by Lana Pollack, former Michigan State Senator and U.S. Chair of the U.S. Canada International Joint Commission; John Viera, Director of Sustainability at Ford; and Rui Resendes, Director of the Green Centre Canada, a research institute set up by a large investment from the Ontario government to support commercialization of safer products.

"The GC3 conference provides a forum for companies to share challenges and experiences in advancing safer chemistry through their supply chains," noted Joel Tickner, Associate Professor of Environmental Health at UMass Lowell and Director of the GC3. "Business to business collaboration in a safe space and around common goals will help move the marketplace for safer products through pre-competitive problem-solving."

Hosting the GC3 conference in Ann Arbor is a solid reflection of Michigan’s leadership in advancing green chemistry. In 2008, Michigan became the first state in the country to direct government agencies to advance green chemistry through research, education, economic development and implementation. The effort has engaged businesses, academic researchers, and government agencies in a clearing house of resources, an annual conference and governor’s award for green chemistry, and educational networking.

"NSF International is pleased to host the GC3 Innovator's conference, which is bringing together thought leaders in green chemistry with the ultimate goal of creating safer, greener products for consumers," said Tom Bruursema, General Manager of NSF International's Sustainability Division, which offers green chemistry product assessment services to help companies find safer chemical alternatives.

"Manufacturers are tasked with obtaining the chemical makeup of components in products provided by their direct supply chain, but this is often a challenge since this information is not always shared from raw material providers," stated Tammy Ayers, who leads Steelcase’s materials chemistry practice. "Banned and red-lists of chemicals are published by regulatory entities, certification programs and even corporations, but it is challenging for every manufacturer to navigate and respond to these requirements. That’s why we need to enhance the collaboration between manufacturers and suppliers and ultimately deliver full transparency on material content and safer products."

This year’s GC3 conference marks an important point for marketing products with safer chemicals. There are increasing consumer pressures, market pressures and regulatory pressures for companies to move towards safer chemistry in the products they sell.

“As a consumer-facing firm, we want to make sure our products are safe for current and future generations,” said Roger McFadden of Staples. “We need a revolution in product design with an environmental conscience and commitment to green chemistry.  Events such as the GC3 conference provide us an opportunity to create that revolution across sectors.”

For more information about the GC3 conference, contact Diane Haworth at dhaworth@nsf.org or 734-214-6202 or visit or visit GC3’s website.

For more information on NSF Sustainability services, visit nsfsustainability.org or contact Dennis Gillan at 734-476-2543 or dgillan@nsf.org.

Note to Media: Media who would like to attend the plenary sessions or keynotes can contact houlahan@nsf.org for more information.  Media also are welcome to attend lunch sessions and the drinks reception on Wednesday. 

About The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3): Founded and facilitated by the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at UMass Lowell, GC3 is a business-to-business forum that advances the application of green chemistry and design for environment across supply chains (greenchemistryandcommerce.org). It provides an open forum for collaboration to share information and experiences about the challenges to and opportunities for safer chemicals and products.

About NSF International: NSF International is an independent organization that writes standards, tests and certifies products for the construction, food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment.

NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise in standards development, product assurance and certification, advisory services and quality management systems to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains. Product assessments include testing and certification for sustainable products such as green chemicals and building products. Through its National Center for Sustainability Standards, NSF also develops sustainability standards for products such as carpet, flooring, and other commercial building materials.