RIT to host workshop on how businesses can design more sustainable products

Oct. 8 seminar is part of series in Great Lakes region promoting the use of safer chemistry

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UPDATE: 8:30 a.m. Sept. 30: Due to low registration numbers, this event has been cancelled. Check www.greenchemistrymn.org for updates on whether the workshop will be rescheduled or other alternatives.

A daylong workshop at Rochester Institute of Technology on Oct. 8 will provide a framework for how businesses can incorporate tools to evaluate environmental hazards and risk assessment of processes and products over their lifecycle. Panelists will discuss how they are meeting their goals to eliminate or reduce the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and supply-chain processes.

“Safe Products, Made Safely: Tools for Businesses” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in Room 2240 at RIT’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies in Louise M. Slaughter Hall. Part of the 2012 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the workshop is co-sponsored by a host of organizations, including the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I), Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Great Lakes Green Chemistry Network, among others.

“Businesses increasingly are recognizing the value of and cost savings associated with reducing toxic inputs, including compliance costs, reduced liability and meeting consumer demand for safer products,” says Anahita Williamson, director of NYSP2I. “This full-day workshop will cover the drivers for safer chemistry in detail while promoting specific tools designed to meet business needs for hazard, lifecycle and alternatives assessment.”

Following a similar seminar at Ohio State University earlier this year, the RIT event is the second in a series of four GLRI-funded National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) workshops titled, “Adopting Safer Chemistry in the Great Lakes Region.” The Safer Chemistry Challenge Program, established by the NPPR grant, offers technical assistance as an incentive to engage businesses in reducing target chemicals of concern in the Great Lakes region.

“The success of this earlier workshop has demonstrated to us the great interest from organizations and businesses in receiving additional opportunities to learn about methods that can assist in designing future products and process,” Williamson says.

She adds that co-sponsors of the RIT event will work with NPPR to track aggregate chemical pollutant reduction, and will enlist businesses that participate in these training sessions to join the tracking program.

“A further component to enhance this project’s impact will be a program to partner with area community colleges to sponsor students or organizations from environmentally stressed and lower-income communities to participate in the training workshops at no cost,” Williamson says. “This will introduce these groups to the potential benefits of applying green chemistries and pollution prevention to product design for job opportunities and career pathways.”

In addition to presenters from sponsoring organizations across the country, the RIT workshop will feature sustainability executives from companies such as Xerox Corp. To register, go to http://greenchemistrymn.org, or contact NYSP2I at nysp2i@rit.edu or 585-475-4325.

About NYSP2I

NYSP2I, located at Rochester Institute of Technology, was created in 2008 by the state and is supported by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The institute provides statewide, comprehensive and integrated programming in technology research, development and diffusion, training and education aimed at making New York state more sustainable for workers, the public, the environment and the economy. Additional partners include Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, State University of New York at Buffalo and New York’s 10 Regional Technology Development Centers.