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Walmart, Lowe’s Develop Chemical Reporting Tool

The Retail Industry Leaders Association has rolled out an initiative designed to streamline the required safety data sheet process used by suppliers and retailers to exchange chemical and product information.

Retailers require detailed information to safely handle chemical products in compliance with regulations from the US Department of Transportation, Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration and EPA, among other agencies.

RILA along with retailers Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Target, Walmart, American Eagle Outfitters, Meijet, Publix and Sears Holdings developed a safety data sheet template that aligns with a 16-section format prescribed by OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard, which went into effect last May. The SDS template initiative, which was sponsored by 3E and The Wercs, aims to improve the efficiency of the process.

Major retailers have engaged in a number of efforts in recent months to use fewer chemicals, or at least provide greater transparency over the substances used in their clothing.

Victoria’s Secret parent company Limited Brands and the Benetton Group agreed this month to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020 after pressure from Greenpeace to sign on to its Detox campaign. Benetton followed the lead of Japanese casual wear brand Uniqlo, which has also agreed to ban all toxic chemicals throughout its global supply chain and products by 2020.

In December 2012, Zara, Mango, Esprit and Levi’s announced similar individual commitments. Levi’s will require its largest suppliers with multiple facilities in China, Mexico and other locations to disclose pollution data by the end of June 2013, Greenpeace said.

In a separate effort, Nike, Target, JC Penney and Levi’s are among the nearly 30 manufacturers and retailers to launch an industry-wide index to evaluate apparel products’ environmental impact. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, founded in 2011, also includes non-profits, academics and the EPA.

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