Walmart to Reduce Toxic Chemicals in Products
Walmart says it will work with suppliers to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals in its products and cut its agriculture fertilizer use on as many as 14 million acres of farmland in the US by 2020.
In its effort to reduce fertilizer use, Walmart says it will require suppliers that use commodity grains, such as corn, wheat and soy in their products, to develop a fertilizer optimization plan with clear goals to improve performance based on Sustainability Index research.
The company announced these and other sustainability initiatives at its Global Sustainability Milestone Meeting yesterday.
At the meeting, Walmart launched its new Consumables Chemicals initiative and said it’s working with suppliers to reduce or eliminate the use of “about 10” toxic chemicals used in consumables products in favor of greener alternatives. The company didn’t name the chemicals. Walmart says it will begin with household cleaning, personal care, beauty and cosmetic products, asking suppliers to transition to greener substitutes for these priority chemicals.
According to the policy, as of January 2015 Walmart will require suppliers to provide online public ingredient disclosure for items sold at Walmart.
A year earlier — starting January 2014 — Walmart will begin to label its private brand cleaning products in accordance with the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling program, and says it will continue to assess the applicability of DfE as Walmart expands it to broader product areas.
Also next year, Walmart will begin to monitor progress on toxic priority chemical reduction, restriction and elimination, according to the policy, and will start publicly reporting progress in January 2016.
By January 2018, items still containing these toxic chemicals will be required to disclose these ingredients on packaging, Walmart says.
Also at the meeting, Walmart said its Sustainability Index, a measurement system used to track the environmental impact of products, has been rolled out across 200 product categories, and to more than 1,000 suppliers. By the end of this year, the company says it will expand the Index to include more than 300 product categories and as many as 5,000 suppliers.
Since broadly rolling out the Index to product categories in August 2012, Walmart says the tool has improved product sustainability. For example, Walmart’s general merchandise department has improved its Index product sustainability score by an average of 20 percent, grocery department by an average of 12 percent, and consumables and health and wellness by an average of 6 percent.
The company also says it will expand the Sustainability Index and measurement to international markets with the goal of improving product sustainability at the global level. Walmart Chile and Walmart Mexico will launch the Index in their respective markets in 2014. In addition, South Africa’s Massmart has begun to include key Index questions in its supplier sustainability surveys.
Additionally, Walmart pledged to increase its use of recycled materials at yesterday’s meeting. A company spokesperson tells Environmental Leader that the company will add 3 billion pounds of recycled plastics to its packaging between 2013 and 2020. The company expects this initiative to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about 3 million metric tons. It says it will also create about 15,000 more jobs than if it sent products and packaging to the landfill.
Walmart is one of the world’s 50 highest emitting companies, according to the CDP’s Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013, published this week. These 50 are responsible for nearly three quarters of the 500 largest listed companies’ 3.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the report says.
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