Walmart Plans to Curb Risky Chemicals in Store Items

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For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, September 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today’s announcement by mega-retailer Walmart that it will require suppliers to limit or eliminate some chemicals from products it sells shows that consumer awareness of toxic exposure risks is driving changes in the market even in the face of government inaction and delay, according to Environmental Working Group.

EWG has long played a pioneering role in informing the public about hazardous ingredients in consumer products through its hugely popular databases on cosmetics, sunscreens and cleaning products, along with its advocacy for greater ingredient disclosure and safety testing. Walmart’s action is the latest indication that informed consumers are powerfully influencing the marketplace.

“Walmart’s action is a sea change event on behalf of public health and the environment and will reverberate throughout the U.S. and around the world,” said EWG executive director Heather White. “This decision is an example of the private sector listening to the consumer and taking concrete steps to address their growing concerns over the safety of the chemicals in many products that millions of people use and purchase from its stores.”

In its statement released today, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said it is “…working with suppliers to reduce or eliminate the use of priority chemicals used in consumables products in favor of greener alternatives. It will begin with household cleaning, personal care, beauty and cosmetic products, asking suppliers to transition to greener substitutes for priority chemicals.

“In addition, starting in Jan. 2014, Walmart will begin to label its private brand cleaning products in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling program, and will continue to assess the applicability of DfE as Walmart expands it to broader product areas.”

Walmart has created a list of “priority chemicals” the company wants removed or replaced by greener alternatives.

“We look forward to evaluating the final list of chemicals Walmart has targeted.  Walmart’s bold business move stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s recent decision to cave into the chemical industry by withdrawing EPA’s proposed ‘chemicals of concern” list,’” added White.  “This is an example of the private sector filling in the gaps to protect consumers.”

For years, EWG has been a leader in giving consumers the best possible information on potentially harmful chemicals in the very product lines Walmart’s action plan targets.

EWG’s online consumer guides, including the Skin Deep database of more than 80,000 personal care products, its Guide to Healthy Cleaning and its Sunscreen Guide have been searched hundreds of millions of times by people looking to purchase products with the fewest troublesome ingredients.