In an article published on July 20, 2016 by news provider Bloomberg, journalists Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Andrew Martin report on U.S. retailer Walmart’s effort to eliminate chemicals of concern (COCs) from consumer products. Walmart released a list of eight chemicals it is asking its suppliers to remove from their products: 1) Formaldehyde (CAS 50-00-0), 2) triclosan (CAS 3380-34-5), 3) toluene (CAS 108-88-3), 4) diethyl phthalate (CAS 84-66-2), 5) nonylphenol exthoxylates, 6) butylparaben (CAS 94-26-8), 7) dibutyl phthalate (CAS 84-74-2), and 8) propylparaben (CAS 94-13-3). These chemicals were chosen because of “certain properties that can affect human health or the environment.” Walmart announced its chemicals policy in 2013 (FPF reported), but kept the list of “high priority chemicals” undisclosed (FPF reported). Under Walmart’s policy, manufacturers are required to list the targeted substances on product packaging by 2018 and make efforts to find alternatives. The policy affects about 90,000 consumer goods made by 700 manufacturers, Coleman-Lochner and Martin write. Also, Walmart’s suppliers have already removed 95% of the target chemicals by volume weight from products sold in U.S. stores, Coleman-Lochner and Martin report.

The list of high priority chemicals was created with help from the non-profit organization Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). EDF advised Walmart to identify commonly used chemicals that “the science was solid on” and were likely to be regulated. Walmart’s chemicals policy is part of the retailer’s broader sustainability initiative, but also responds to “heightened consumer awareness of product ingredients and a growing preference for organic goods,” Coleman-Lochner and Martin explain. In addition, “investors are looking for more disclosure from companies too.” All target chemicals, except for toluene, are included in the FACET inventory of food contact materials (FCMs), as well as, with the exception of toluene and butylparaben, in the ESCO working group list of non-plastic FCMs. Formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and propylparaben are also included in the Union List of substances authorized for use in plastic FCMs (Annex I of Regulation (EU) No 10/2011).

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Lauren Coleman-Lochner and Andrew Martin (July 20, 2016). “Wal-Mart asks its suppliers to stop using eight chemicals.” Bloomberg