US Wal-Mart launches chemical screening process

18 March 2008 21:02  [Source: ICIS news]

BALTIMORE, Maryland (ICIS news)--US retail giant Wal-Mart in two weeks will begin screening chemical-based products for adverse environmental effects and will seek product reformulation in some cases, a company official said on Tuesday.


Zach Freeze, manager of Wal-Mart’s sustainable value network programme for suppliers and buyers, told an industry conference that the retailer will launch a screening programme on 1 April for chemical intensive products.

The screening programme will check “all chemicals against criteria for adverse impacts to human health and the environment [in order] to move away from the use of the most hazardous chemicals”, Freeze said.


He said the new process, which in part will be operated by third party firms, will seek to identify any chemicals that are known to be carcinogens, mutagens or that have reproductive or developmental toxicity profiles (CMRs). 


The screening also will identify any substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs).


“When certain characteristics of chemicals apply to products we carry," Freeze said, "the question must be raised: Can we reformulate this product to make it less hazardous while keeping cost of goods, lifecycle costs and efficacy in mind?”


He said Wal-Mart, which serves 180m customers each week in its 4,000 US stores, will work with suppliers and buyers toward “continuous improvement rather than 100% elimination” of a product.


“What we are talking about is product reformulation,” Freeze said.


In addition, he said that as part of the company’s life cycle analysis of products it sells or uses, Wal-Mart will seek to assess charge-back fees to manufacturers whose products raise costs for Wal-Mart due to frequent clean-up requirements or other maintenance and storage expenses.


Freeze spoke at the annual GlobalChem conference on international chemical regulatory matters.  Cosponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (SOCMA), the three-day conference runs through Wednesday.

By: Joe Kamalick
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