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Green Chemistry: Big Retailers Climbing Aboard, Becoming Proactive vs. Reactive

March 15th, 2013 | Posted by and in Opinion

In the real world as opposed to, well, let’s say the political world, it doesn’t take a lot of convincing among business types with skin in the game to do the right thing, defined in this case as anything that keeps them from losing their shirt or share by ignoring consumer demands.

That’s the lesson to be learned from this report in GreenBiz.com by Sally Edwards, all about major retailers not exactly waiting around for policies to be aligned in Washington, DC, and other parts of the world. The gist of her story is this: Retailers are finding that their institutional and individual customers have become more sophisticated about, and aware of, toxic chemicals in products and are demanding that chemical information be disclosed and that these risks be eliminated. In response, leading retailers are developing a range of approaches to chemicals management that they are implementing throughout their supply chains…

The article then launches into a brief review of the various programs in this regard being launched by such companies as Staples, Kingfisher, Wal-Mart, Boots, and Walgreen.

The point is these retailers may be doing more, faster, to advance green chemistry than any other force. Take Staples as just one example. Ms. Edwards writes: Suppliers are asked to disclose whether they are using any chemicals on a list of chemicals of concern that Staples has compiled and if so, to find a safer alternative that is cost neutral. In cases where a safer alternative is not available, suppliers are asked to provide a timeline for phasing out the use of the chemical of concern.

How many of those suppliers reply to this by saying they don’t have to; it’s not required by law; I’m waiting for policy clarifications? Um… about zero don’t you think? That was easy.

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