Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has requested that its suppliers eliminate from their products formaldehyde, triclosan, toluene, diethyl phthalate, nonylphenol exthoxylates, butylparabens, dibutyl phthalate and propylparaben as part of an effort targeting “certain properties that can affect human health or the environment.”
The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer drew up the list with help from the Environmental Defense Fund, with the goal of prompting suppliers to seek alternatives, Zach Freeze, Walmart’s director for strategic initiatives related to sustainability, told Bloomberg, which noted that just eight high-priority chemicals were featured to allow the company to make “meaningful progress.”
In 2013, Walmart said it would ask suppliers to reduce some substances in personal care, cleaning and beauty products, but wasn’t specific about which ingredients. Its policy calls for manufacturers to list the identified ingredients on their packaging by 2018 and swap them for alternatives. The initiative involves approximately 90,000 products from 700 manufacturers. Bloomberg reported that Walmart’s suppliers have already removed 95 percent of the listed chemicals, by volume weight, from products carried in U.S. stores affected by the policy.
After congratulating Walmart for the disclosure and the reductions already achieved, Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a campaign of Washington, D.C.-based Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a grass-roots coalition that has called on major retailers to eliminate and substitute certain chemicals, noted: “This is an important milestone, but the company shouldn’t stop there. Walmart should expand its list of ‘high-priority’ chemicals to address other dangerous chemicals that scientists and doctors have linked to cancer, reproductive harm and brain damage. We challenge other leading retailers to join Walmart in tackling these unnecessary toxic chemicals.”
Added Schade: “Big retailers like Walmart have the power to transform the marketplace and bring safer products into the hands of consumers across the world. Even with recent reforms, government actions aren’t going to keep pace with the urgency of the health threats posed by toxic chemicals, so more action like this is urgently needed from leading retailers.”