Over the past year, makeup manufacturers have felt pressure from major retailers like Walmart and Target to disclose, and ultimately phase out, potentially harmful chemicals in the product formulas in their stores.
Now, Walmart and Target are expanding their efforts industry-wide and have partnered with nonprofit Forum for the Future to create a leadership group that will encourage other retailers, as well as the manufacturers of health and beauty products and chemical developers, to participate in the forum’s Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Project.
As GreenBiz reported earlier this week, the goal is to clarify priorities for the manufacturers and share best practices that will help to accelerate the availability of greener chemical alternatives for consumers. In preparation for the leadership group’s first meeting this month (December), Forum for the Future has published a report identifying barriers to, as well as a proposed approach for, achieving the group’s goals. Aside from the retailers, other companies involved in the research are BASF, CVS, The Dow Chemical Company, Eastman Chemical Company, Environmental Defense Fund, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, Method, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
Walmart began asking for disclosures about chemicals from its suppliers starting as far back as 2006. Its own internal initiative, the Sustainable Chemistry Policy, focused on 10 chemicals of concern. Target, in addition to having human wellness as a long-time part of its corporate social responsibility platform, also updated its Product Sustainability Index earlier this year, adding new chemicals of concern. Target’s “Made to matter” brand should generate $1 billion in sales this year, according to the company.
As Helen Clarkson, director of Forum for the Future U.S., notes: “You wouldn’t have the retailers pushing as hard if the consumer pressure wasn’t there. Retailers are seeing more rapid growth in product categories with natural or safe on the label … We want more products like this, and we want to be more sure about what the labels mean, because more manufacturers are making these claims.”
The group is also seeking policy changes on the national level that could help bolster the sustainable chemicals movement, with a list of proposed reforms to the nearly 40-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act. Two bills are circulating in Congress, both of which would require more testing and more disclosure.
“It is a critical time for collaboration; we need the supply chain to come together to truly move the need and make the greatest impact,” Target spokeswoman Angie Thompson told GreenBiz.