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09/29/2009 01:57 PM ET   
News from: Clean Production Action and Pure Strategies

New Tool Shows How to Replace Harmful Plastics with Greener Alternatives

Clean Production Action and Pure Strategies to Release Scorecard

On Wednesday, September 30 a new tool will be introduced for those looking to replace harmful plastics with more environmentally-responsible  alternatives.

The "Plastics Scorecard," developed by Clean Production Action and Pure Strategies, charts a course for manufacturers, purchasers and government agencies to evaluate various plastics based on their impact across their lifecycles -- from feedstock production and manufacturing to use and disposal. The Scorecard will be unveiled to leaders of the rapidly-evolving biopolymer industry at the Biopolymer Symposium 2009 in Chicago.

While plastics are an essential material used in many products, they often rely on non-renewable resources; are manufactured with toxic chemicals that can be released into homes, offices and cars; and typically contain little to no recycled content. States across the U.S. have enacted or are considering legislation aimed at limiting the use of chemicals in plastics that pose environmental hazards, but until now there has been no easy-to-use tool that charts the path to more sustainable alternatives.

"The Scorecard is essentially a decision-making tool aimed at improving the design of plastic products," said Clean Production Action's Research Director Mark Rossi. "As more and more consumers demand products that do not include toxic chemicals, companies, governments and environmental organizations need a way to assess the environmental preferability of the various alternatives."

In recent years, one of the most commonly used plastics, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or "vinyl" has made headlines as the plastic of greatest concern to human health and the environment. Safer alternatives are available to PVC, but companies need a roadmap to ensure they switch to a significantly greener plastic rather than one that is only slightly less hazardous.

The Scorecard rates plastics on a set of criteria that simultaneously advance sustainable raw materials, green chemistry and closed loop systems. The criteria for moving up the spectrum toward "preferred plastics" were selected to progressively increase the sustainability of the plastic at each stage of its lifecycle.

The Plastics Scorecard grades the different plastics from F to A+. The parameters can be used to inform the greener manufacture of plastics as well as the process of evaluating their sustainability.

Chemicals of high concern may be cancer causing, or toxic to the reproductive, neurological or endocrine systems. These chemicals are used in the production of some common plastics used in household items, such as electronics. They include PVC, polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and polystyrene.

"We hear a lot today about which chemicals are problematic in terms of toxicity and biodegradability, but until now, there have been no understandable guidelines for selecting better substitutes," said Tim Greiner, Principal of Pure Strategies. "We look forward to working with companies in using the Plastics Scorecard to help us make greener products."

According to Rossi, "The creation of the Plastics Scorecard is an important step toward clean production, helping us get closer to our goal of eliminating toxic wastes and promoting the judicious use of renewable energy and materials."

About Clean Production Action -- Clean Production Action (CPA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the design and delivery of strategic solutions for green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products. CPA's unique role is to translate the systems-based vision of clean production into the tools and strategies non-government organizations, governments and businesses need to make clean production a reality in today's economy.

About Pure Strategies -- Pure Strategies is a leading sustainability consultancy devoted to corporate strategy, green product design, sustainable materials, and transparent measures of progress. Pure Strategies uses its cutting-edge research, thought leadership and value creation approach, to create authentic solutions to today's sustainability challenges.

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ATTENTION JOURNALISTS: For advance access to the Plastics Scorecard, please call Shayna Samuels.

The Scorecard will be available on CPA's website: on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, and available for public comment until December 31, 2009.

For more information please contact:

Shayna Samuels

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