May 17, 2011
An overhaul of outdated toxic chemical policies would not only protect the health of Americans and the environment, it would also help create new jobs. That’s according to a new report by the Political Economy Research Institute. The report, “The Economic Benefits of a Green Chemical Industry”, says a move toward greener and safer chemicals can reverse the chemical industry’s trend of job losses. In nearly 20 years, the chemical industry has lost 300,000 jobs and counters the industry argues that updating chemical policies would result in further cuts. A growing number of environmental groups and lawmakers have been calling for an overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Just last month, a group of senators introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 aimed at curbing the use of dangerous chemicals in everyday products. Studies have linked several chemicals in commonly used products to a host of health problems including cancer, learning disabilities. The new report says shifting toward cleaner, safer chemicals would help the chemical industry become more competitive by lowering costs, ensuring access to global markets and meeting the growing demands of consumers for safer products. It says if 20 percent of chemical production switched from petrochemical-based plastic to plant-based plastic, more than 100,000 jobs would be created. The report also argues that the chemical industry has relied on cost cutting to remain profitable which has only eliminated jobs and reduced investment in innovation.