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Richard A. Liroff
It is smart business practice for corporate managers to look beyond compliance with federal regulations — which badly lag state and foreign laws and many private sector programs — to strategically manage business risks from hazardous chemicals in the products they make and sell.
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This article from the May/June 2008 issue of The Environmental Law Institute's The Environmental Forum likens federal laws, regulations and their enforcement to a Potemkin village--a facade falsely suggesting that the US government is effectively protecting public health and the environment. State governments and large companies such as Wal-Mart, Dell, and leaders in the health care sector are filling the gap, adopting regulations and procurement rules that lock toxic products out of the marketplace. Concerned companies are exploring new collaborative mechanisms to address chemical challenges, within their industries and by forging linkages with non-governmental organizations. This article suggests initial steps companies can take to avoid the risk of toxic lockout, drawing on progressive policies and procedures from companies that have already taken action. Sidebar commentaries are offered by Dell Inc. and The Environmental Defense Fund.