Are flame retardants necessary for furniture? Acting in response to the association of flame retardants with cancer, reproductive, developmental and other adverse health effects, Kaiser Permanente announced it will no longer buy furniture containing such chemicals. The move, facilitated by California’s new furniture flammability standard (TB 117-2013), may well catalyze the elimination of unnecessary flame retardants. With furniture purchases of $30 million a year and a leader in the 1,000-hospital Healthier Hospitals Initiative, Kaiser Permanente has the power to move the market to safer alternatives for fire-safe furniture.
Panera Bread announced that food served in its 1800 bakery-cafés will be free of artificial additives by the end of 2016. Panera says this decision is part of its ongoing commitment to clean ingredients and transparency. Artificial trans fats, caramel coloring, and various fillers, dyes, preservatives, sweeteners and flavor enhancers are among the chemicals being eliminated. Panera said “Millenials'” interest in health was instrumental in prompting this move and that working with suppliers will be the biggest challenge.
Companies participating in the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Program (ZDHC) have commited to limiting discharges of about 150 hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing. The companies have already agreed to eliminate nonylphenols, halogenated flame retardants, heavy metals, phthalates, PFCs, tributyltin compounds and numerous VOCs among other hazardous chemicals from their finished products. The goal is to eliminate these chemicals entirely from their supply chains by 2020. Participating companies include Adidas, the Gap, H&M, Levi Strauss, New Balance and Nike.