For the hundreds of companies in the supply chain, the push means they will have to be knowledgeable about materials and get more comfortable disclosing what goes into their components "” and even who supplies them.
This practice is what is at the heart of green chemistry, defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as reducing or eliminating hazardous substances.
"This means we are talking to our supply chain," said Gabe Wing, director of environmental health and safety for furniture manufacturer Herman Miller Inc., based in Zeeland, Mich.
As office furniture manufacturers ramp up their efforts to remove harmful chemicals and other questionable materials from their products, they are also mindful that there are significant changes in government regulation coming at them.
"[Herman Miller] likes to stay ahead of the regulations," Wing said.
The company sees green chemistry, as well as the broader idea of sustainability, as not just a business decision but as an ethical issue, Wing said. While Herman Miller, a company with more than $1bn in annual revenue, can have a large impact in the industry, Wing acknowledged the company can't act in a vacuum.
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