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Chemical footprinting strides to become mainstream with Walmart
Global momentum toward chemical safety is rising as the financial and health implications of chemical mismanagement become increasingly clear.
Witness the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which highlight the importance of reducing and managing hazardous chemicals to meet the objectives of ensuring healthy lives, the availability of clean water, and sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) initiative of investors, retailers, government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and health care organizations aspires to support these goals through the effective management of chemicals in products and supply chains. CFP signatories include investors with over $2.3 trillion in assets under management and purchasers with over $600 billion in buying power. (Some of the authors of this piece are affiliated with the Chemical Footprint Project).
Walmart Stores is the latest signatory to the project, agreeing to offer up data related to chemicals in products it sells.
"CFP is making data available for benchmarking and gap analysis, which are critical for us to understand where our company and our suppliers are on the journey to more sustainable chemicals," said Zach Freeze, senior director for sustainability at Walmart.
And it isn't alone. The results from a 2016 CFP Survey reveal how 24 companies manage chemicals in their products and supply chains. They provide a snapshot of chemical management policies and practices — beyond regulatory compliance — across a diverse set of businesses.
The CFP Survey evaluates companies and their chemical management policies and practices based on four key pillars:
1. Management strategy: the policies and strategies companies put into place to manage chemicals
2. Chemical inventory: the information companies collect on chemicals in products and supply chains
3. Footprint measurement: the baseline data companies have on chemicals of high concern to human health and the environment (CoHCs) in products and their tracking of progress to safer alternatives
4. Disclosure and verification: the sharing of information on chemicals in products with the public, disclosure of scores and responses to the CFP Survey, and steps taken to verify responses to the survey.
“Companies that excel in these indicators are the companies that use the safest chemical ingredients in their products and have the deepest knowledge of their suppliers and their chemicals management practices,” said Boma Brown-West, senior manager for consumer health at the Environmental Defense Fund.