The country – excuse me – the company, Walmart has announced its new requirement for chemical disclosure and bans that will be coming as part of its sustainability program.  Some 10 chemicals are initially targeted (not yet identified) thanks to 7 years of lobbying by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).  Walmart will also be sponsoring use of EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) environmental labeling program.  The focus is on household cleaning, personal care, beauty and cosmetic products: Slide1

  • Walmart will work with suppliers on continuous performance improvement on The Sustainability Index to address chemical disclosure, risk assessment and hazard avoidance. 
  • Beginning in January 2015, Walmart will require suppliers to provide online public ingredient disclosure for items sold at Walmart. 
  • Walmart has prioritized a list of approximately ten chemical ingredients, as its initial list of high priority chemicals, for continuous reduction, restriction, and elimination, using informed substitution principles, and will regularly review if additional chemicals should be prioritized. Priority Chemicals will be shared with suppliers. 
  • Walmart will begin to label private brand cleaning products in accordance with the U.S. EPA’s Design for the Environment Safer Product Labeling program, to the extent possible, and will continue to assess the applicability of DfE as it expands to broader product areas.

Proctor and Gamble, a founding member with Walmart of The Sustainability Consortium, has already announced they are discontinuing use of all phthalates and triclosan (on Walmart's list?).  I'm a big fan of P&G's life cycle thinking and product stewardship approaches and I hope they have significant influence on Walmart (but my Sam's Club still doesn't carry Tide Coldwater).

But these benevolent(?) giants are de facto regulating the consumer products industry without public notice and comment  rulemaking.  While technically suppliers and consumers can vote with their business, it's not so easy to do - especially when decisions are being made behind closed doors.


Leave a reply