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Wal-Mart Puts Chemicals in Spotlight by Joining New Program

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has joined a new program that rates companies on their use of chemicals, a move that puts fresh pressure on the consumer-products industry to police its ingredients.

Wal-Mart Puts Chemicals in Spotlight by Joining New Program

The world's largest retailer is participating in the Chemical Footprint Project, which seeks to help companies root out dangerous substances from the products they sell. Two dozen companies have joined the effort, including Johnson & Johnson, HP Inc. and Staples Inc., according to a recent report. The idea was to create a standard modeled on carbon-footprint scores.

Wal-Mart’s involvement gives a big boost to the three-year-old program and underscores the growing movement by corporate America to regulate itself. Consumers are increasingly checking ingredient labels of the products they buy — and pushing companies to rid products of controversial chemicals, such as formaldehyde or phthalates.

“We ultimately want to build trust in Wal-Mart’s brand,” said Zach Freeze, head of the retailer’s strategic initiatives around sustainability. The program provides a “more holistic approach” and guidance for companies looking to manage their use of chemicals.

As part of the project, companies take a 20-question survey that examines their policies, goals and actions aimed at reducing toxic substances — along with how much information they disclose. The top score is 100 points.

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