Wal-Mart is pledging to cut down or eliminate 10 chemicals found in household and beauty products currently on its shelves, the mega-retailer said Thursday.
At a meeting focused on the chain's sustainability efforts, executives said they would begin monitoring the scale-back in January. The move is "the first chemical policy of this scope by a major multinational retailer," according to a statement from the nonprofit advocacy group Clean Production Action.
"Wal-Mart's policy signals a new era of going beyond regulatory compliance to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals," Mark Rossi, the group's co-director, said in the statement. "Companies like Wal-Mart are realizing they need to be proactive instead of reactive to the rapidly increasing consumer demand for safer products."
The giant retailer joins Procter & Gamble, which last week said it would phase out phthalates and triclosan – found in soaps, gels and lubricants – from products. Last year, Johnson & Johnson said it would remove the two chemicals along with formaldehyde and parabens from its personal care items.
Wal-Mart did not disclose which 10 chemicals it will initially target. The company said that by January 2015, suppliers must post online lists of ingredients used in products sold at Wal-Mart.
In 2016, the Bentonville, Ark., retailer will start publicly reporting suppliers' progress.
"This is a big victory for the millions of people who are demanding safer products," said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "It's a significant step forward, but there's still a long way to go to clean up the beauty aisle."