Should You Start Issuing EPDs and HPDs
Of the tools used to communicate a product’s health and environmental impacts, two are gaining momentum: Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs).
The widespread adoption of EPDs and HPDs is happening partly because the approach to assessing a product’s impacts is based on third-party standards, says Lynn L. Bergeson, managing partner at Bergeson & Campbell, PC, a Washington, DC law firm. “Anything that involves a third-party consensus standard approach is thought to be more useful and “independent” and thus more credible than something that is generated internally or that is not the result of a consensus-based process,” Bergeson notes.
Nonetheless, standards are constantly evolving, and a concern among risk assessment professionals is that HPDs rely more upon the product’s hazards rather than risk. That’s just one reason why safety professionals and senior management need to understand the standards’ underlying premises.
“There is nothing more important today in the product space than how the hazards and risks of your products and the components in those products are communicated,” says Bergeson. “If you're relying upon someone else's assurance that that an EPD or HPD is the way to go with regard to communicating the risk, but you don't know on what premise those tools are based, you're putting an awful lot of responsibility on people downstream of you.”
At Stewardship 2015, Bergeson will help professionals understand the declarations in an education session titled Legal and Stewardship Issues Associated with EPDs and HPDs.
Bergeson will address what the declarations are and how to assess them. She’ll also explain the premises underlying the tools and talk about whether internal operations can be re-tooled to generate the declarations. “I think every company is going to weigh the cost and benefits for embracing these tools differently,” she says. “But to be competitive, you have to be able to demonstrate that your product has less impact environmentally and from a health perspective than everything else, yet is stronger competitively on the product front.”