Announcing the Safe + Circular Materials Collaborative in Partnership with ChemFORWARD

March 24, 2021

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is excited to announce a new initiative in partnership with the safe-chemistry nonprofit ChemFORWARD. The Safe + Circular Materials Collaborative is a joint effort between the two organizations to explore material health challenges related to packaging circularity and to help companies find safer alternatives. This unique approach pairs a Collaborative with the opportunity to participate in a pilot project that will develop a cloud-based registry of verified safer packaging building blocks.

Material health is a critical component in the transition to a circular economy, and a key to companies achieving their circularity goals. Chemicals used in packaging can contribute towards negative human health impacts and cause damage to ecosystems throughout their life cycle. Certain additives or processing agents may impact the recycling process, reducing the quality and value of the output. For compostable products, toxic chemicals can persist in the resulting biomass after the product breaks down.

When it comes to ensuring that the materials we use are safe for humans and the environment, and suitable for circularity, a value chain collaboration is critical. SPC Collaboratives provide a forum for members to come together to address sustainable packaging challenges. This multi-stakeholder approach ensures that various perspectives are considered and all the necessary people are included in the conversation, enabling change at an accelerated pace.

The members of the Safe + Circular Materials Collaborative will help identify the top three priority functional areas that will be the focus of the pilot project. The Collaborative will also determine the criteria for safer alternatives, and develop a greater understanding of the landscape through engaging with experts and learning of innovative solutions. Members will have the opportunity to share best practices and develop a common agenda that advances the value chain towards a safe and circular system.

ChemFORWARD brings expertise in taking a data-driven, science-based approach to material and chemical transparency. The organization has existing digital infrastructure and provides similar data on beauty and personal care ingredients. ChemFORWARD will leverage its foundation and capabilities to develop a catalog of safer packaging building blocks that will have immediate application and serve as a proof of concept for a more comprehensive database.

The pilot project will collect and assess member-supplied solutions in the three priority functional areas. These formulations will undergo third-party assessment and verification. The results will populate a shared registry of verified alternatives that companies can trust are safer choices to use in packaging development. This resource will enable suppliers to amplify the availability of verified safe and circular alternatives while providing users with access to transparent data.

Stacy Glass, Executive Director of ChemFORWARD, understands the need for reliable and accessible data. “So many companies want to use materials that are safe for humans and the environment, and that present no issues to circular end-of-life processes,” she says, “But access to cost-effective, comprehensive chemical hazard assessments is a barrier for most companies and a bottleneck to collective impact. We need to bridge that gap by connecting brands and manufacturers to proven safer alternatives.”

The Safe + Circular Materials Collaborative will be launching in April 2021. If interested in participating or learning more, contact Karen Hagerman, Project Manager, SPC Collaboratives, at karen.hagerman@greenblue.org.

For more information about the role of safe chemicals in circular packaging, the SPC’s online course, The Essentials of Material Health, provides an excellent overview.



ChemFORWARD is a nonprofit, value chain collaboration providing access to the trusted data, which underpins the pathway to safer products. ChemFORWARD is working to be the globally trusted source of cost-effective chemical hazard data for safer alternatives so that increased use of chemical hazard profiles for proactive decision making will lead to safer products for all and enable a safe and circular economy.

About the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC)

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition is a membership-based collaborative that brings together businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to collectively broaden the understanding of packaging sustainability and develop meaningful improvements for packaging solutions. Our mission is to bring packaging sustainability stakeholders together to catalyze actionable improvements to packaging systems and lend an authoritative voice on issues related to packaging sustainability. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition is a trademark project of GreenBlue Org, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to the sustainable use of materials in society. We bring together key stakeholders to encourage innovation and best practices to promote the creation of a more sustainable materials economy. For more information, follow us on Twitter @SPCSpotlight or visit our website at https://sustainablepackaging.org. Companies interested in joining the Sustainable Packaging Coalition can visit https://sustainablepackaging.org/become-a-member/ or contact spcinfo@greenblue.org.