Walmart’s strategy is also meant to encourage product formulation changes so that sustainable chemistry is eventually the norm when it comes to FMCGs.
Beginning next year Walmart expects all suppliers, not just food and beauty brands, to list ingredients on labels and online. “We know our customers are interested in what goes into products and how they are made. It’s important for them, and we are advocating for them by encouraging innovation and transparency into that process,” Zach Freeze, senior director of strategic initiatives for sustainability at Walmart, says in a company media release about the policy update.
“Our strengthened commitment provides more clarity on our expectations for suppliers in working towards enhanced product formulations and setting concrete benchmarks to check progress along the way.”
Consumer concerns often go beyond ethical issues to include health and wellbeing. Walmart is addressing this by adding new lists to its ingredient regulations policy, one regarding ingredient purity and another regarding fragrance ingredients.
And, FMCG manufacturers are necessarily involved. “Like Walmart, we know that today’s consumers want more information to help them make informed choices,” Jack McAneny, director of sustainability at Procter & Gamble, says in the Walmart release. “That’s why we’ve recently expanded our transparency commitment to include fragrance ingredients across our product portfolio.”
Last month P&G began disclosing the fragrance ingredients in its personal care products, like its Olay Regenerist Revitalizing Serum, and has pledged to do the same for all such products by 2020.
In hopes of having more sustainable and environmentally friendly products on store shelves, Walmart is encouraging brands to seek out Cradle to Cradle certification (at or above the silver level) or EWG verified certifications.
Also, in September, Walmart got involved with the Chemical Footprint Project to measure and decrease the volume of high priority chemicals in the products the company sells.
“Walmart has set an industry precedent for targeting and measuring reductions of chemicals of concern in its products,” Boma Brown-West, senior manager at the Environmental Defense Fund, notes in the company release. “Walmart demonstrates the Five Pillars of Leadership on safer chemicals and encourages the pursuit of safer products across the supply chain.”