P&G Applauded for Fragrance Chemical Transparency

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Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) praised Proctor & Gamble (P&G) this week after the family, personal care and household products company expanded its chemical disclosure. P&G has listed the ingredients it uses in its fragrances and scents on its website since 2012, but a list of over 140 fragrance chemicals that it excludes from its products was added on Monday.

The decision was made based on feedback from customers. A P&G spokesperson told Chemical Watch that they “found that people are also interested in what [they] do not use in [their] fragrances.”

“This list of ingredients we do not use has been part of our fragrance evaluation process for many years, and we are now making it available to the public as well,” the spokesperson said. The company plans to update the lists regularly to reflect any product ingredient changes.

The ingredients P&G rejects includes chemicals that have been linked to endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity and cancer, but are still used by other companies in the market, according to NGO Environmental Working Group (EWG).

“It is clear that consumers are being heard. To its great credit, P&G is listening and taking positive action,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “The trend towards full transparency – in food, personal care, cleaning products and many other categories – is not just undeniable, it’s accelerating and irreversible.

“Consumers obviously want products that are effective and affordable. Increasingly they also insist on knowing what ingredients are in those products, and want to decide for themselves if those ingredients are safe. Today’s announcement makes clear that P&G is embracing these emerging consumer desires and preferences. The scale of the company and the enormous popularity of its many brands make P&G’s steps a global game-changer.”

NGO Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) analysed P&G’s new list of “ingredients we do not use” against the company’s 2012 fragrance palette and found that P&G has discontinued the use of several ingredients over the past few years, including styrene, cresol, musk ketone, and several phthalates such as DEP, DINP and DMP.

WVE’s director of science and research, Alex Scranton, said that the company’s disclosure represents an “additional step in the evolution of thought around fragrance disclosure,” but “a lot of questions about the chemicals that still remain” on the company's fragrance ingredient list. P&G competitor SC Johnson began disclosing product-specific fragrance information last year, and Scranton says that consumers want the same from P&G.

WVE and other investigators have uncovered questionable regulation practices related to chemical use in fragrances. For example, in November, WVE released a report on the failings of the fragrance industry's self-regulated safety program and in December, director Jon Whelan released a documentary film, STINK!, that follows his journey to uncover the source of products' odors and what "fragrance" really means.

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