Walmart Encourages Suppliers To Remove 8 Controversial Chemicals From Products

Image courtesy of Stirwise

Walmart has a huge amount of power over which products end up on the market. The mega-retailer is now encouraging suppliers to remove eight chemicals from their products. The substances aren’t banned, exactly, but suppliers will have to discolose their presence on any products containing them starting in two years. The list consisted of substances which may be harmful to people, to the environment, or to both.

Walmart had a few reasons to set these goals. First, the company aimed to remove them from private-label products as part of obtaining EPA certification as “Safer Choices,” which would give the products a marketing edge among consumers who increasingly prefer products labeled natural or organic.

“Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. commit to empower customers/members with information about the products that we offer them and to accelerate the use of sustainable chemistry practices,” the company says in the introduction to its Sustainable Chemistry Guide for suppliers.

The Environmental Defense Fund was one of the non-government organizations that worked with Walmart on this, and today published the list of substances that Walmart is encouraging suppliers to cut back on or eliminate.

  • Propylparaben and Butylparaben: Preservatives used in cosmetics
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs): Surfectants used in products like laundry detergent.
  • Formaldehyde: a substance used in everything from pressed wood to nail polishes which has a distinctive smell. Prolonged exposure has been linked to throat and nose cancer, as well as leukemia.
  • Dibutyl phthalate and diethyl phthalate
  • : Solvents and plasticizers used to make plastics flexible and to dissolve substances.

  • Triclosan: a common antibacterial ingredient in everything from soaps to toothpaste, which remains under investigation by the FDA.
  • Toluene: a solvent used in glues, paints, and nail polishes, which can cause neurological damage in high doses.
  • The affected chemicals were mostly found in beauty and personal-care products, and Walmart now brags that it has eliminated 95% of the total of these substances by weight used in various products sold at Walmart.
    Major Strides: Walmart Details Progress on Chemicals [EDF]
    Wal-Mart Asks Its Suppliers to Stop Using Eight Chemicals [Bloomberg News]

    FURTHER READING:
    Personal Care Companies Say It’s Not About What’s In Beauty Products These Days, It’s About What Isn’t