To transition our current economic and materials systems towards a more sustainable economy, we need to learn how to make decisions that move us towards more sustainable materials. How do we distinguish and define the specific properties of safer, cleaner, and truly sustainable products and services? How do we know whether one alternative chemical, material, or product is superior from an environment, health and safety perspective from another?
The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production Alternatives Assessment Framework represents a small, first step toward creating an approach that allows us to answer these questions. In recent years, various research projects have been undertaken to develop frameworks, approaches, and tools for assessment of substitutes at the chemical, material, and product levels. However, no consistent framework or methodology has been developed and widely adopted that guides the process of alternatives assessment.
We do not see this Framework as a static process but rather one that is continuously being revised and updated. We look forward to engaging with others on how we make alternatives assessment a robust yet practical framework for evaluating and identifying safer chemicals, materials, and products.