The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times recently reported that California's crackdown on harmful materials in consumer products is getting some help from a nonprofit institute that plans to help manufacturers come up with safer alternatives.
Dubbed The New Green Products Innovation Institute, the organization aims to establish higher standards for product safety to be used by California regulators when they begin enforcing a state law that requires manufacturers to make safer consumer products. The institute's work is based on something called "Cradle-to-Cradle", set forth in 1995 by architect and designer William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. They prescribe ways that products can be re-designed to become recylable nutrients instead of harmful pollutants.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who signed the measure into law in 2008 was joined by several large companies and other participants at an event at Google Inc.'s headquarters to discuss the effort which will be enforced by law next year. Google is one of the backers of the initiative. Yet despite the bill's good intentions and the high profile momentum it is receiving, there are still plenty of lingering questions. Here's more from The Wall Street Journal:
...changing manufacturing processes won't be easy. The "Cradle-to-Cradle" framework can take so much time to implement that some companies who have followed it for years still haven't fully transformed their product lines. For example, just under 20% of the revenues for carpet maker Shaw Industries Inc. come from products based on the cradle techniques nine years ago after they were first implemented, said Vance Bell, chairman and CEO of the Dalton, Ga. company.
Hopefully, with today's manufacturing advancements, manufacturers can still figure out a way to get on board with Cradle-to-Cradle quickly without disrupting their operations or profitability.