Walmart Stores Inc. is now asking its suppliers to remove formaldehyde, triclosan and six other chemicals from its products in an effort to eliminate controversial chemicals from household goods.
The substances on the list include “certain properties that can affect human health or the environment,” the brand said in a statement Wednesday of the list they created with help from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in an aim to get suppliers to find alternatives. According to Zach Freeze, Walmart’s director for strategic initiatives related to sustainability, the list was limited to eight high-priority chemicals in order for the retailer to make a big step in the right direction. “We wanted to get started,” Freeze said in an interview. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a perfect list.”
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In 2013, Walmart announced that it would ask suppliers to reduce some substances in personal care, cleaning and beauty products and promote alternatives. while at the time of the original announcement the retailer wasn’t specific about the list, they’ve now released the names of the specific chemicals. While the program is an example of widening scrutiny by manufacturers merchants and legislators, it’s also a nod to heightened consumer concerns. The EDF advised the retailer to identify chemicals that “the science was solid on” and were likely to be regulated,” Michelle Harvey, EDF’s supply-chain director, said in an interview. “The substances chosen are also among the most common.”
Here are the chemicals that made the list:
Formaldehyde, a carcinogen found in resins for wood products, building materials, paints and some cosmetics.
Triclosan, a chemical used in antibacterial soaps, toothpastes and some cosmetics. While not known to be hazardous to humans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that some animal studies have found the chemical alters hormone regulation.
Toluene, a clear liquid used in paint thinners, nail polishes and certain perfumes.
Diethyl phthalate, a substance used to make plastic more flexible, as well as an ingredient in certain cosmetics, insecticides and aspirin.
Nonylphenol exthoxylates, surfactants used in consumer products like laundry detergent, as well as in industrial applications.
Butylparabens, used as a preservative in cosmetics.
Dibutyl phthalate, a solvent.
Propylparaben, a preservative.
Under the Walmart policy, manufacturers must list these targeted ingredients on their packaging by 2018 and work to find alternative substances. The program affects about 90,000 items made by 700 manufacturers and the retailer’s suppliers have already removed 95 percent of the chemicals on the list (by volume weight) from products sold in U.S. stores that are covered by the policy.
This chemical-regulating program is part of the larger sustainability initiative that the superpower company started back in 2005 with the goal of creating zero waste, using only renewable energy and selling products that are safe for people and the environment. While an important milestone, the brand isn’t stopping here. And as the world’s largest retailer, we think this is a huge step in the right direction.
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