Wal-Mart Lists Chemicals It Wants Removed From All Its Products

Walmart has outlined the top eight chemicals it deems harmful, including formaldehyde, triclosan and others, indicating that it will be a priority for the company to make sure they are remove or limited in products sold at stores nationwide. 

On July 20, Walmart released a list of chemicals it is trying to eliminate from its products. The list is the result of a 2013 Sustainable Chemistry Policy, which included a focus on ingredient transparency and a move to begin using safer ingredients in Walmart formulation household and personal care products.

Walmart also issued a long list of priority chemicals that it will continue to focus on, and emphasized eight it calls high priority chemicals of high concern and worthy of action.

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The list of eight high priority chemicals include, propylparaben, butylparaben, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, triclosan, and toluene.

Triclosan and formaldehyde have come under scrutiny recently for the many negative health effects linked to the chemicals.

Use of triclosan in particular has been widely debated among health regulators and watch dogs. The FDA is expected to announce a decision soon concerning the safety of triclosan in antibacterial products and rule on whether has established the ingredients are safe and effective to prevent illness compared to plain soap and water.

Walmart is calling on suppliers to remove and restrict the eight high priority chemicals from household cleaning and personal care products. It is a move health activists urged Walgreens to also undertake, particularly removing formaldehyde from children’s personal care products. The chemical has been linked to asthma, cancer and birth defects in children.

This is the first time Walmart has shared the details of what chemicals it includes in the high priority chemical list and is focusing on restriction, reduction and elimination.

Walmart initially announced the policy in 2013, focusing on three commitments: increase transparency for product ingredients,  advance safer formulations of products, and attain U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice certification of Walmart private brand products. The policy went into effect January 2014.

In April, Walmart announced it achieved a 95% reduction by weight in use of high priority chemicals of concern. The company assesses the total weight of high priority chemicals contained in products sold and the frequency of use.

The company also reported a dramatic reduction in the total weight of priority chemicals and high priority chemicals going out the door. Total weight of high priority chemicals dropped by 95% and priority chemicals by 45%, more than doubling the reduction of high priority chemicals.

Priority chemicals are substances with hazardous properties that can affect human health or the environment. It meets the classification as carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive toxicant or is persistently bioaccumulative and toxic.

Removing Harmful Chemicals

Walmart also determined which suppliers used the majority of high priority chemicals focusing on restricting the products. Overall, the percentage of products containing high priority chemicals dropped by three percent. However, the number of suppliers using high priority chemicals increased to 39 percent and the percent of products containing any priority chemical went up one percent to 80%.

The company has also included a requirement that use of priority chemicals must be disclosed on product packaging beginning in 2018, to help keep customers informed.

So far, many retailers have begun to comply with Walmart’s new chemical policy. P&G is a major supplier to Walmart and has reported it uses parabens within safe limits set by regulatory agencies. It has also eliminated triclosan from 99% of its products.

Johnson & Johnson announced in 2012 it will remove harmful chemicals, including as formaldehyde, from its baby shampoo, lotions and bath products. The change came the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics launched a campaign calling for change in the company.

Other companies, like Colgate-Palmolive, have defended their use of triclosan citing FDA data which they claim confirmed the safety of the chemical.

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