Walmart to phase out chemicals in cosmetics and household products.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced on Thursday a new initiative to eliminate certain chemicals of concern in cosmetics and household products. The company will also expand ingredient disclosure and begin to label its own brand of cleaning products using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Design for Environment (DfE) guidelines.

Under its “Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables,” [PDF] Walmart will work with suppliers to phase out an initial list of ten “priority” substances. Walmart will not disclose the list of substances until it has further discussed the new policy with suppliers, said the company’s senior vice president for sustainability, Andrea Thomas. However, Thomas said the list was developed with input from suppliers, academics, nonprofits, and the EPA, and that the chemicals were chosen based on their use in products, potential impact, and the availability of viable alternatives. In order to ensure that any replacement chemicals comply with established “green chemistry” requirements, Walmart is requiring its suppliers to use a tool called GreenWERCS, which Walmart developed with the help of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other public health groups in 2009.

Beginning in 2014, Walmart will start monitoring progress of its new policy, and will also begin to identify some its private brand cleaning products for inclusion in the DfE labeling program. Beginning in 2015, the policy will require suppliers to provide public online ingredient disclosure for products in the categories covered. By 2018, any products still containing “priority” chemicals on Walmart’s list—which will be regularly reviewed to see if additional chemicals should be prioritized—will have to disclose these ingredients on package labels.

Consumer and environmental health advocates welcomed the initiative, which many said was the first chemical policy of this scope by a global retailer. Over the past several years, major Walmart suppliers like SC Johnson, Johnson and Johnson and Procter & Gamble have taken steps to phase out hazardous chemicals. However, as the world’s largest retailer, Walmart’s policy has the most significant potential to encourage large companies to use safer chemicals in their products.

US EPA unveils ChemView, substance information web portal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched ChemView, a web portal that will serve as a hub for chemical-specific regulatory information developed by EPA, as well as data collected under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The portal presents key health and safety data in a format that allows users to compare chemicals by their use as well as their health and environmental effects. ChemView will also allow searches by chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, use, hazard effect or regulatory action. Users can customize their views of the information on individual chemicals, or compare multiple chemicals by use, hazard effect or other criteria. Links to background documents are also provided for more detail.

At this time, ChemView contains:

  • test rule data for 90 chemicals;
  • hazard characterizations for 1,016 chemicals;
  • Design for the Environment (DfE) Alternatives Assessments for 48 chemicals; and
  • Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) for 349 chemicals that did not go through pre-market EPA review – the so-called existing chemicals.

It also links to other data, including:

  • health and safety studies submitted under TSCA section 8(d) for 140 chemicals;
  • substantial risk reports submitted under TSCA section 8(e) for 261 chemicals;
  • high production volume voluntary submissions for 1,169 chemicals;
  • Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessments for 548 chemicals;
  • DfE list of safer chemical ingredients for 602 chemicals;
  • Chemical Data Reporting information for 7,221 chemicals; and
  • Toxics Release Inventory data for 611 chemicals.

EPA said that in the months ahead, it will be continuously adding additional chemicals, functionality and links. When fully developed, the portal will hold data on thousands of chemicals. The agency stated that increasing health and safety information, as well as identifying safer chemical ingredients, would help manufacturers and retailers better differentiate their products by using safer ingredients.

The agency has considered stakeholder input in the design of the site and is currently seeking comments from the public on its usability.

Biocidal Products Regulation Enters Into Force in EU.

The Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR; Regulation (EU) 528/2012), which repeals and replaces the Biocidal Products Directive (BPD, 98/8/EC), entered into force on September 1, 2013. The BPR retains the legal framework established by the BPD, including the two-tier approval system for biocidal substances, but also introduces a number of new provisions, such as those relating to treated articles and food contact materials containing biocides.

In order to prepare applicants for the new changes, ECHA recently published priority guidance on applying information requirements for biocidal active substances (Annex II) and biocidal products (Annex III). The head of ECHA’s biocides unit, Hugues Kenigswald, says that there are a number of further documents in development that will complement it. However, applicants can begin submitting biocidal and technical equivalence dossiers immediately.

Unless they are included in ECHA’s list of approved active substance suppliers, all manufacturers or importers of active substances contained in biocidal products must submit a dossier before placing products on the market. Applicants can prepare a dossier by using the first versions of BPR submission tools, the Iuclid report generator software and the R4BP3 register for biocidal products. The ECHA has published guidance for using these tools on their website.

Some in the industry worry that the submission process, particularly the Iuclid software, will be too complex for companies. Yet overall, industry is expected to benefit from the Regulation, which will allow industry to request an EU-wide authorization for biocidal products, thereby removing national barriers to trade. This simplified and more efficient product authorization, along with data sharing and information requirements, is estimated to save industry € 2.7 billion over a period of 10 years. However, Mr. Kenigswald did express concern as to whether member states will have enough resources to provide the support needed to make the BPR an effective Regulation.