Walmart Moves to Limit Chemicals in Products – New York State Must Follow Suit


Walmart has announced a new policy on “Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables” (PDF download) that will require new transparency from manufacturers regarding the chemical makeup of their personal care products, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies.  It will also monitor “reduction, restriction and elimination” of roughly 10 high priority chemicals those product categories.


In response, Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York, issued the following statement:

We applaud action by Walmart as an important step forward, both for their push toward transparency and momentum to phase out toxic chemicals.  


It comes on the heels of Procter & Gamble’s announcement that it would phase out the chemicals triclosan and dibutyl phthalate from its entire global product line.  Together, these actions demonstrate that product makers and retailers can step out ahead of regulation. Given consumer demand for safe, healthy products, businesses also benefit by favorably differentiating themselves from their competition.


Toxic chemicals have no place in everyday products, given what science has shown us about the enormous societal and economic impacts due to health problems caused by certain chemicals, and what it has hinted about cumulative exposure to daily multiple chemical onslaughts.


The limitation of this voluntary action is that it does not provide equal protections to all people, only to those who shop in specific stores, for specific products.  In order to provide universal safeguards, our policymakers must show the same kind of leadership as Walmart is now displaying.  They must pass strong chemical management laws that ensure all products on store shelves are safe and healthy.


Given the overwhelming science showing strong associations between toxic chemicals and tragic, preventable diseases of environmental origin, the only rational course is to limit their use through improved market and government policies.


In New York, one such pending policy is the Child Safe Products Act, a bill that identifies and phases out toxic chemicals in children’s products.  This bill, sponsored by Senator Phil Boyle (R-Babylon) and Assemblyman Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and backed by the JustGreen Partnership (a diverse collaboration of 50 organizations representing a million New Yorkers), ended the 2013 session by passing the Assembly 111-30, and with 37 Senate co-sponsors.


New York must find courage in Walmart’s bold step forward, and take the next step toward truly safe, healthy products by passing the Child Safe Products Act and delivering it to the governor.

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