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Wal-Mart Announces Phase-out of Hazardous Chemicals

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Prodded by health and environmental advocates, Wal-Mart Stores announced Thursday that it will require suppliers to disclose and eventually phase out nearly 10 hazardous chemicals from the fragrances, cosmetics, household cleaners and personal care products at its stores.

The nation's largest retailer said that, beginning in January, it would begin to monitor progress on reducing these chemicals and apply to its own brand of cleaning products the Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment label, which identifies eco-friendly goods. It declined to name the targeted chemicals, saying it will take time to familiarize suppliers with the new policy.

Wal-Mart joins an industry shift away from potentially toxic chemicals in consumer products. Last week, citing consumer preferences, Procter & Gamble announced plans to eliminate hormone-like phthalates and the antibacterial triclosan. In 2012, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove those two chemicals, along with formaldehyde and parabens, from its personal care products worldwide.

"It's all kind of integrated," Andrea Thomas, Wal-Mart's senior vice president of sustainability, said Thursday about the industry efforts. As it moves forward, she said, Wal-Mart will share best practices with other members of the Sustainability Consortium, a group of companies including Procter & Gamble that aim to reduce the environmental toll of global consumption.

Thomas said Wal-Mart does not intend to cut suppliers off but to remain "collaborative." She said it picked the "high-priority" chemicals, based on the extent of their impact and the availability of safe and affordable alternatives.   


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