New Report: Businesses Can Innovate to Reduce Toxic Chemical Use

For Immediate Release

Lansing, MI—Today Environment Michigan released Safer By Design: Businesses Can Replace Toxic Ingredients through Green Chemistry, a new report that highlights 14 businesses across the country that are innovating to cut toxic chemicals from their products, while creating green jobs and boosting the economy.

“Currently, these businesses are the exception and not the rule. But by harnessing American ingenuity, businesses can actually design their products and processes to be safer.  Businesses in Michigan have an exceptional opportunity to lead in this area because Michigan was the first state to have a Green Chemistry Executive Order,” said Nicole Lowen of Environment Michigan.

The report shows that businesses across the country are creating new technology to reduce their use of toxic chemicals, a process called green chemistry. The report highlights True Textiles in Michigan, a business that manufactures fabrics. True Textiles, invented TerraTex, a naturally stain-resistant fabric made from recycled material and corn. Because it is naturally stain-resistant, TerraTex does not need additional toxic stain repellants added to the product, which saves True Textiles an estimated $300,000 each year.  But TerraTex is just one example of a Michigan company turning to green chemistry.

Allen Julian of Draths Corporation joined Environment Michigan at the release. Draths Corporation is a growing business in Lansing founded in Michigan State University research and with venture capital.  Since its start in 2005 Draths as grown to nearly 40 employees and is planning to start using its bio-based monomers in commercial nylon and polyester products within the next few years as an alternative to current petroleum based options.  

Michigan has made strides in green chemistry education and research.  The DNRE sponsors a Green Chemistry Roundtable as well as an annual conference on green chemistry.  They have also administered eight grants focusing mostly on education, research, and access to chemical information.  Legislatively, State Representative Ellen Cogan-Lipton sponsored a bill which passed last December which includes green chemistry in the Michigan Strategic Fund Act.  State Senator Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw) introduced a bill in January that would help keep harmful chemicals out of children’s products.

“Businesses have a responsibility to consumers to use the safest available materials in their products," said Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) who joined Environment Michigan at the release.  “Yet promoting green chemistry is not only a moral imperative, but also an economic one.  Michigan has an opportunity to be a world leader in this growing industry and we must not be afraid to embrace that which is new and different.  I look forward to working with my colleagues and Governor Snyder to encourage more businesses to join Draths Corporation in implementing these common-sense policies and moving Michigan into the 21st century global economy.”

Environment Michigan called Governor Snyder’s administration and the Michigan legislature to continue to support Michigan’s Green Chemistry Initiatives, especially in research and education. 

Environment America, the national advocacy organization Environment Michigan is associated with, calls on Congress and Obama’s Administration to create policies to promote more businesses like True Textiles and the 13 other businesses in the support. Specifically, they want to require that businesses study and share with the public and other businesses the health and environmental risks associated with chemicals they use; that businesses use safer alternatives where they exist, and phase out the use of the most dangerous chemicals first; and that businesses using toxic chemicals in their products pay the total health and environmental cost of using those chemicals.

“With more businesses like Draths Corporation, True Textiles, and BASF, our state and the whole country can reap the rewards of using fewer toxic chemicals,” said Lowen. “With bold, new policies in place we can encourage more businesses to turn to green chemistry to protect our health and environment while building the economy.”