Consumers want safer chemicals and ingredients in their products, and they want companies to be transparent about what’s in their products.
To meet this demand and achieve a competitive advantage, retailers and manufacturers including Target, Walmart and SC Johnson have taken steps to phase out hazardous chemicals in their products and encourage product transparency.
In an Environmental Defense Fund blog post, the nonprofit identifies a blueprint for safer chemicals in the marketplace that it says it has discovered in working with Walmart and other businesses. The blueprint lists five things companies can do to ensure safer products.
EDF’s five “key pillars” are:
- Institutional Commitment: Firms needs a written corporate chemicals policy and solid commitment from company executives.
- Supply Chain Transparency: Before a manufacturer or retailer can flesh out its plan to introduce safer products, they must know the chemicals used to make products.
- Informed Consumers: Transparency meets customer demands for increased product safety and sustainability.
- Safer Chemicals Plan: This plan is the roadmap for using safer chemicals and phasing out hazardous chemicals. EDF says “it provides the structure for evaluating chemical safety with respect to workers, neighboring communities and consumers; prioritizing, managing and eliminating chemicals of concern; and evaluating, determining and introducing safer alternatives. The plan also provides a basis for communication with suppliers, customers and consumers.”
- Public Commitment: Communicate the company’s policy, timelines and progress — successes and pitfalls — towards safer chemicals. This can also lead to useful partnerships with other organizations that can provide expertise and best practices.
Takeaway: Phasing out hazardous chemicals in products can give retailers and manufacturers a competitive advantage. EDF outlines five things companies can do to encourage safer products and transparency.