Connecticut DEP Commissioner McCarthy: The Market Will Drive Green Policies

The lunch-time speaker at the Green Processing Symposium was Connecticut DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy, an energetic and engaging speaker with a warmth and sense of humor that aren't often found in the grey halls of government.  Although the energy and enthusiasm that was so visible in  1970's environmental efforts has waned, Green issues are becoming extremely important.  "It's a different power than before," she said.  "It's the power of one, but when like-minded people come together, it can change policies."  Government and industry need to work together to solve environmental problems, in a proactive, rather than defensive way, she said.  Activity isn't happening at the Federal, but rather at the state level, she said, noting that Connecticut was the first to pass a bill limiting the use of mercury five years ago.  Maine and Washington are both looking at flame retardant limitations, and a bill that would have banned phthalates plasticizers in toys "came within a whisker of passing."  However, she noted, these bills are being considered whether they're good, bad, or indifferent. Ms. McCarthy also noted the increasing power of the consumer, and the example of the woman from Arkansas who sued Playtex for using bisphenol-A in the manufacture of its baby bottles (for more read on).  Wal-Mart responded with a statement that it would be eliminating any baby bottles containing bisphenol A from its inventory. Change will be market driven, she said, and green chemistry efforts "can shift the market on a dime" rewarding those who are innovative and who act proactively.  Will more pharma companies heed the call? AMS