Consumer demand for green products offers opportunity - ACC

07 April 2009 23:10  [Source: ICIS news]

BALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS news)--Growing consumer demand for greener products at the retail level can be good for the chemicals sector, an industry advocate said on Tuesday.

Ashley Carlson, director of retail outreach at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), told an industry conference that despite the recession, consumers continue to press for green products and major retailers are increasingly working with manufacturers to meet that demand.

She quoted Lee Scott, chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores, as saying that sustainability should be a priority even during the global downturn.

The ACC works with Wal-Mart and more than a dozen other major retailers to improve sustainability at their stores, warehouses and shipping centres and to make chemical intensive products and packaging more “green”.

Other speakers at the 2009 Global Chemical Regulations Conference (GlobalChem) noted that the consumer-driven demand for greener products and retailers’ response to those initiatives - collectively known as retail regulation - are forcing product selections and de-selections that reach beyond traditional regulatory pathways.

However, Carlson said the retail green movement can benefit manufacturers of chemicals and other products.

“More than 88% of consumers surveyed said they engage in what researchers described as sustainable behaviour,” she said. In addition, “80% of North American corporate sustainability executives plan to maintain or increase ‘green’ spending in 2009 despite the economic downturn”.

There are also cost advantages and other economic gains associated with meeting consumer demand for sustainable products and packaging, Carlson said.

Manufacturers that “go green” can get fast-track treatment on building permits and local licenses or have some fees waived, she said, and also can be eligible for federal and state tax credits and other incentives.

Carlson said that in its retail outreach efforts, the council seeks to promote science-based criteria for product evaluations and recognition for risk management initiatives already under way. 

She said the council also serves as a technical resource for retailers seeking information about product and packaging contents.

Cosponsored by ACC and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA), the GlobalChem conference continues through Wednesday.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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