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Company: Walmart
Subject: Safer Chemicals Policy
Year: 2006
Sector: Retail Multi-Line
Lead Filer: Green Century Capital Management
Outcome: Omitted per SEC

 

Establishing A Safer Products Policy

 

Whereas,

Our company has made significant initial commitments to greening of products, including an expressed goal "to sell products that sustain our resources and environment," a commitment to help create a program in China giving preferences to green suppliers, and a commitment to end PVC packaging of house brand products within two years;

However, scientific evidence is quickly mounting that necessitates additional action. Recent studies show that even very low levels of certain chemicals found in consumer products may contribute to a host of human health disorders, including cancers and neurological problems. Fetuses, infants, and young children appear particularly vulnerable;

Whereas,

Regulations in California and other states and in the European Union are increasingly restricting or otherwise regulating chemicals in consumer products;

Our company wishes to increase sales in the United States to higher-income customers who are concerned about our company's social and environmental commitments and the safety of products.

Whereas,

Some manufacturers are already responding to new scientific information, growing public concern, and existing or potential regulation by reformulating their products;

Wal-Mart cosmetics suppliers L'Oreal and Revlon have committed to reformulate their cosmetics products globally to eliminate suspected reproductive toxicants identified by the European Union.

Wal-Mart supplier SC Johnson and Son has adopted a process for systematically reducing the environmental footprint of its products and has, as a result, eliminated all chemicals that accumulate in the environment and increased sales of its Blue Windex product;

Despite these positive developments, a great many products sold at Wal-Mart contain substances of concern;

Wal-Mart is uniquely positioned to dramatically shift global supply chains towards use of safer chemicals in common consumer products.

RESOLVED, shareholders request that by 2007, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, the Board publish a report evaluating Company policies and procedures for systematically minimizing customers' exposure to toxic substances in products, including, at a minimum, hormone disrupting chemicals, persistent bioaccumulative toxicants, carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxicants. The report should summarize the criteria used to evaluate such chemicals, and include options for systematically identifying toxic chemicals in stocked products, encouraging suppliers to reduce or eliminate such chemicals and develop safer alternatives, and routinely reporting on progress.

Supporting Statement

According to a recent report, (http://rosefdn.org/liroffreport.pdf), safer chemicals policies have been adopted by leading consumer products manufacturers and retailers.

Innovative practices include inventorying chemicals in products; establishing goals and milestones even in the face of scientific uncertainty; providing inducements to suppliers to provide safer products; and publicly disclosing information to consumers and shareholders.

Companies have adopted such practices to build public trust, protect brand reputation, and safeguard and grow market share by anticipating regulation. Such actions by Wal-Mart would significantly and positively raise our company's environmental profile, enhancing its reputation and competitive position worldwide.

As Lee Scott said last October, "being a good steward of the environment and in our communities, and being an efficient and profitable business, are not mutually exclusive. In fact they are one in the same."

(2014 update: The report referenced above is now available at: http://iehn.org/documents/ProjectManuscript--Rosewebsiteversion_000.pdf )

 


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