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ChemFORWARD, a leader in creating broad access to chemical hazard data and safer alternatives, announces the introduction of an exciting new program for raw material suppliers. ChemFORWARD’s SAFERTMprogram will verify their safer alternatives and amplify them as safer by trade name through leading B2B marketplaces. The program was co-designed with suppliers and retailers over the last two years to fill a critical gap in safety data.

“The credit for this idea goes to the systems-thinking retailers and the forward-thinking suppliers who approached us to use our methodology and data sharing infrastructure to help them demonstrate human and environmental safety and to build trust throughout the supply chain based on a rigorous, third-party process.” explained Stacy Glass, ChemFORWARD’s executive director.

Mia Davis, vice president of sustainability and impact for Credo Beauty describes the market need, “We have inherited a system where chemicals get free access to the market without being properly assessed for safety or sustainability - important considerations for consumers and brands. In the absence of regulation, data, and third-party certifications to back up claims of safety, what we need is a non-profit solution that defines safer clearly and works with suppliers to assess ingredients and materials before we use them in products intended to be safer.”

ChemFORWARD SAFER does just that while leveraging a shared, globally harmonized repository of chemical hazard assessments (CHAs), to quickly and cost-effectively provide an assessment of a trade name material. The process is strategically designed to help suppliers stay ahead of regulations, ensure human and environmental safety, and build trust through third-party verified transparency.

There is a movement toward using full chemical hazard assessments to verify safety claims rather than relying on regulatory and restricted substance lists. According to Lauren Heine, Ph.D. director of science at ChemFORWARD, “It takes a lot more information to prove a chemical is inherently safe than it does to prove it is toxic. Just knowing a chemical is a known carcinogen or that it causes skin sensitization can be enough to rule it out as a good candidate for product applications. To be sure it is inherently benign for its intended use means all human and environmental impacts should be classified. A lack of hazard data does not mean a chemical is inherently benign.”

While chemical hazard assessments are just one part of the decision matrix, they have traditionally been expensive, inconsistent and housed on private systems. ChemFORWARD’s globally harmonized shared repository breaks through these barriers to provide cost-effective, comprehensive, scalable screening of ingredients for suppliers.


Turning chemical data into positive impact takes more than comprehensive toxicology data and assessing ingredients. Amplifying safer alternatives and making them freely available for broad adoption was a key imperative for the co-design effort that created SAFER. While SAFER listings will be available on the ChemFORWARD website and housed in the ChemFORWARD chemical optimization platform, they will be amplified by some of the leading supplier marketplaces through partnerships with Novi Connect, ChemSec Marketplace, and a data sharing relationship with Covalo.

Kimberly Shenk, CEO of Novi, a B2B marketplace for sustainable suppliers in the $1.5 trillion product development supply chain market and ChemFORWARD advisory board member, stresses the importance of intersectionality, ”We are building a B2B model for the chemical industry aimed at helping brands get the information necessary to source cleaner ingredients — while also informing buyers on the sustainability factored into their products and how they can do better. We have partnered with ChemFORWARD across a number of shared retailer partnerships, including Target, Credo and Sephora, to help formulators avoid regrettable substitutions and truly source safer alternatives. With our technology, suppliers can be pre-screened for SAFER qualifications and brands and formulators can filter for SAFER ingredients when sourcing alternatives. This is a win for suppliers, for brands, and for transparency that is enabled by technology – that’s the intersectionality we seek to scale sustainable sourcing.”


In late 2018, Target Corporation granted ChemFORWARD (formerly MaterialWise) a two-year Green Chemistry Innovation Grant to design, build and pilot a globally harmonized repository of chemical hazard assessments focused on safer alternatives. That investment alongside co-investors Google, Schmidt Futures and Laudes Foundation created the infrastructure to enable a systems transformation. Today, ChemFORWARD is fundamentally changing the way chemical hazard data is created, maintained, distributed, consumed and financed.

Other co-design partners joined in to populate the repository with safer alternatives.

Sephora, the first major prestige beauty retailer to establish a public-facing chemicals policy to proactively strengthen ingredient safety and transparency, also invested in identifying safer alternatives and making those alternatives widely available to its supply chain and beyond through ChemFORWARD.

Carley Klekas, Principal of Product Sustainability at Sephora reflected on this journey, “We’ve been working with ChemFORWARD since 2018 and have seen how they have grown to arrive at the new ChemFORWARD SAFER program. We’ve been trying to determine how best to utilize the safer alternatives work we invested in for our brands. This took user-feedback on how best to activate systems change, and the power of the Novi platform to arrive at this supplier-centered solution. By merging complex safety data with a user-friendly scoring system and tool that our brands are already utilizing, it’s win-win for all parties involved. We believe this effort will help uncover new safer alternatives, encourage suppliers to proactively fund the assessment of materials with limited or no safety data, and reward manufactures of safer alternatives with preferred purchasing through supplier marketplaces. We are very supportive of ChemFORWARD SAFER and are looking forward to seeing it thrive.”

Building Trust Throughout the Supply Chain

Dr. Pamela Spencer, D.A.B.T, Senior Vice President, Regulatory, Product Stewardship and Quality at ANGUS Chemical Company, and longtime advocate of safer product design, sums up this innovative trust building protocol, “Public scrutiny and mistrust are highest when industry conducts or sponsors chemical safety assessments. Safety assessments have the greatest credibility when conducted by an unbiased, third party. The fact that the ChemFORWARD SAFER program is an independent, nonprofit is key to gaining industry and consumer confidence for using the SAFER designation to find better, safer alternatives.”


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