The Chemicals Policy and Science Initiative is a project of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production (Lowell Center) at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Since 2001, the Chemicals Policy and Science Initiative has grown into the most prominent academic chemicals policy program in the country. It has gone through the following series of overlapping stages:
Stage I: Research on European and US chemicals policies. The purpose of this stage was to understand what was happening in the realm of chemicals policy in Europe and the US and to understand the implications of these initiatives for the US. We also conducted research on efforts at the state and federal levels in the U.S.
Stage II: Education. As an academic institution, a key goal of the Lowell Center is to educate stakeholders on innovations in sustainability thinking. We began our education effort with a tour of European chemicals experts to the US in 2003, chemicals policy skill-shares and other presentations/meetings with government, funders and NGOs. A further educational activity has been the development of a comprehensive website on chemicals policy as well as undertaking REACH trainings in spring/fall 2006. The purpose of this stage was to educate key actors on the exciting efforts underway in Europe to stimulate similar policy initiatives in the U.S. It was an opportunity to initiate discussion on chemicals policy reform in the US at the state and federal levels.
Stage III: Strategic engagement. We engage in “strategic engagement” with key actors to move national and state dialogue towards chemicals policies that are consistent with the Lowell Center vision and approach– whether it be supporting efforts to reform policy, diffusing opposition to change from some camps, or changing paradigms of chemicals policy (i.e. the focus on alternatives, substitution, and solutions). The April 2004 Forum on Framing a Future Chemicals Policy started this process of strategic engagements which was followed by the Darden School of Business Dialogue on safer chemistry and sustainable business throughout supply chains. Tools such as the REACH trainings advance this goal as well as the education goal. We expect this stage to continue for some time as we continue engagement with the business community and state policy makers.
Stage IV: Advancing forward looking chemicals policies in the U.S. and states. This includes development of policy options analyses for chemicals policy reform, the alternatives assessment framework, and continued strategic dialogue. The passage of REACH and other state, federal, and global initiatives provides and important opportunity to advance a new vision of chemicals policy for the US. To do this, we will be developing a policy options toolkit, outlining options for chemicals policy reform – for example data collection, substitution, etc. We will convene a panel of diverse experts to discuss and enhance this policy options toolkit. We have focused our approach on moving state policy forward, given the current challenges of changing federal policy.
A key goal of all these efforts is to effect change towards more sustainable chemicals policies by showing how change is happening; by providing tools and resources to those agents of change and bringing new actors into the chemicals policy dialogue; and to help provide direction to reforms consistent with the Lowell Center vision.