Walmart has informed dozens of product manufacturers throughout its supply chain that it is now implementing its new policy to phase out hazardous chemicals from its consumer products, announced late last year.
The Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables provides a description of what it calls "priority chemicals" — substances with certain hazardous properties that can affect human health, and/or the environment. The policy defines these as chemicals that meets the criteria for classification as a carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive toxicant, or is persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic; or any chemical for which there is “scientific evidence of probable serious effects to human health or the environment.”
“Walmart and Sam’s Club believe that customers/members should not have to choose between products that they can afford and products that are better for them and the environment."
Walmart and Sam’s Club worked to develop its company on sustainable chemistry for consumer products with NGOs such as the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with suppliers, academics, government, and industry stakeholders.
Walmart isn't the only heavyhitter to enact stricter guidelines with regard to the chemical safety of the products it carries: In October, Walmart rival Target announced the Target Sustainable Product Standard, which the retailer developed in partnership with industry experts, vendors and NGOs to establish a common language, definition and process for identifying what makes chemically intensive products more sustainable. In November, Target began using GoodGuide’s UL Transparency Platform to collect information from vendors representing 7,500 household cleaners, personal care and beauty, and baby care products to complete the assessment.
At the state level, Washington and California recently took action to protect consumers from potentially harmful chemicals in the products they use and buy. Washington’s focus is on products meant for children; California’s law spotlights cosmetics. Both states require companies to submit information on specific known or suspected carcinogens, reproductive toxins and developmental toxins; Washington specifically adds endocrine disruptors. They have published the resulting databases on their state websites — with much of the information previously unavailable.
And Greenpeace has elicited commitments from 20 major fashion brands and retailers — most recently Burberry and Primark — to eliminate toxic chemicals from all of their products and production processes by 2020. The organization also has called out luxury brands including Versace, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana for using the same hazardous chemicals used in the manufacturing of fast fashion to produce children’s clothes.