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Retailer council sets priorities for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals

Mind the Store campaign commends retailers, calls for concrete timelines to eliminate hazardous chemicals

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today the Retail Leadership Council (RLC) of the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) issued a new statement developed by major retailers calling on chemical companies and suppliers to develop safer alternatives for flame retardants, plasticizers, water and stain repellents, and other chemicals in products sold at retail. It identifies the need to develop safer alternatives to dangerous chemicals in food packaging, electronics, personal care products, building materials, and other product categories. It says, “the RLC has now collectively identified a set of chemical and application priorities for innovation in safer alternatives.” It also identifies best practices for ingredient disclosure and transparency.

The Retail Leadership Council is made up of ten major retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, CVS Health, The Home Depot, Kingfisher PLC, Lowe’s, Staples, Target, and Walmart.

In response, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ Mind the Store Campaign Director Mike Schade issued the following statement:

“We commend these retailers for identifying product categories and chemical functions that are priorities for innovative actions. The retailers’ voices add to growing momentum to phase out classes of toxic chemicals, such as PFAS, flame retardants, and phthalates. Brands and chemical manufacturers across global supply chains should pay close attention to this new list and then develop and transition to safer alternatives. These chemicals are contaminating our bodies and homes and may cause serious health problems.

This new statement must be backed up by concrete measurable actions by retailers. For many of these chemicals and product categories, safer cost-effective alternatives are already available in the marketplace. Retailers should set clear public goals with aggressive timelines to reduce, eliminate, and replace these dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives. The health of our families, communities, and workers depends on it.”

This new announcement comes at a time when retailers are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to reduce and eliminate harmful chemicals.  The annual “Who’s Minding the Store?” retailer report card benchmarks retailers on their safer chemical policies and implementation programs.

Meanwhile, states and localities are moving to phase out classes of chemicals, such as PFAS and halogenated flame retardants, in favor of safer alternatives. Washington just adopted the strongest law in the nation targeted at these chemicals and others. The new law requires state actions on these chemicals, including greater transparency and restrictions. Other states, such as Minnesota, have also recently enacted restrictions on toxic flame retardants.

Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future, said: “We are glad to see leading retailers acknowledge that dangerous chemicals that can contaminate our food, water and bodies should have no place in products. Washington’s new law will drive the market to safer alternatives, so getting ahead of the curve makes a lot of sense.”

Sarah Doll, Director of Safer States, said: “This is a smart move from retailers because states from Washington to New York are moving to regulate these chemicals and others. We applaud their efforts to prioritize these chemical classes, safer alternatives, and transparency.”

Liz Hitchcock, Acting Director of Safer Chemicals, said: “The Trump EPA’s failure to meet its obligations to protect us from toxic chemicals makes it all the more important  that retailers take action to make the products that they sell safer.”

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Safer Chemicals Healthy Families leads a nationwide coalition of organizations and businesses working to safeguard American families from toxic chemicals. The group’s Mind the Store campaign challenges big retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals and substitute safer alternatives.

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