We know heavy metals are in food. Here’s how the Baby Food Council is taking on that challenge.

This week, a new investigative report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a children’s health advocacy group, revealed that there is still more work to do in eliminating contaminants of concern, including lead, arsenic, and cadmium, from infant and toddler food. As noted in the report, at least one of these toxic heavy metals was detected in 95 percent of the 168 baby food samples tested. The good news: earlier this year, leaders in the sector supported by academic, government, and NGO partners and advisors started working together on the issue via the pre-competitive Baby Food Council.

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Reducing your chemical footprint: Taking charge

Buying more sustainable products is now the expectation of U.S. consumers. Market research firm Nielsen projects that the sustainability market will hit $150 billion in sales by 2021. For perspective, that’s larger than the entire video game industry. And demand for sustainable products is growing four times faster than conventional products. Millennials and Generation Z are fueling this transformation.

One of the top consumer concerns about products? Ingredient safety.

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Sephora: First major beauty retailer releases a public chemicals policy

Sephora has released a public-facing chemicals policy, becoming the first major specialty beauty and cosmetics retailer to do so. The policy “seeks to strengthen ingredient safety and transparency” and applies to all formulated beauty and personal care products that are sold online and in stores, including both private label and third-partner brands. The policy is global in scope.

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How companies can start clean when it comes to food packaging

This is the third in a series evaluating the challenges in single-use food packaging waste. We looked at how company commitments fit into the circular economy debate, made a list of food packaging chemicals, and designed step-by-step guidance with a new interactive tool for companies to act on ingredient safety. 

Packaging, especially single-use plastic, has been in the news a lot lately. Images of a straw in a turtle’s nose. Stalled community recycling programs following China’s decision to severely limit what waste materials they’ll accept. Hundreds of companies committing to change their plastic packaging practices. And let’s not forget about chemicals associated with packaging. In our previous blog, we noted that tight virgin-material standards can prevent problematic contamination in post-consumer recycled materials. We also shared a list of ten toxic chemicals and chemical classes including PFAS, phthalates, and perchlorate that can migrate into food from food packaging and food handling equipment.

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Toxic chemicals can enter food through packaging. We made a list.

Tom Neltner, J.D. and Boma Brown-West with Maricel Maffini and Michelle Mauthe Harvey

This is the second in a series evaluating the challenges in single-use food packaging waste.

In the late 1980s, the Council of Northeast Governors (CONEG) was concerned that heavy metals in packaging would accumulate in recycled materials to levels that presented serious health concerns. The organization drafted model legislation that prohibited the intentional addition of mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium to any component of packaging, including inks. It also set a 100 parts-per-million limit on the total amount of these four heavy metals. To ensure compliance, companies making packaging materials had to provide certificates of compliance to downstream purchasers and report compliance to the states.

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Walmart steps up on recycling efforts – but a gap remains in the circular economy conversation

This is the first blog in a series evaluating the challenges associated with single-use food packaging waste. We made a list of food packaging chemicals, provided advice for companies to “start clean” on food packaging, designed step-by-step guidance with a new interactive tool for companies to act on ingredient safety. 

This week Walmart joined a growing number of companies that are trying to advance the circular economy for packaging. Like previous commitments from NestleCoca-Cola and McDonald’s, Walmart is stepping up its efforts to use more recyclable packaging, incorporate more recycled content, and accelerate development of collection and recycling infrastructures. EDF has a long history fighting for greater and smarter plastics recycling, so we are pleased to see more companies working to eliminate plastic packaging waste from our environment. However, something is often missing from their statements: commitments for safer packaging free of toxic chemicals.

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Amazon joins Walmart, other major retailers on safer chemicals

Retail demand for safer products is not only here to stay – it’s now a source of competition in the evolving marketplace. Amazon is the latest retailer to join Walmart, Target, CVS Health, Home Depot, and Rite-Aid by publishing a chemicals policy and a public Restricted Substances List. Amazon and several of the above-mentioned retailers represent half of the top ten retailers in the US. Amazon’s new policy is a big deal: not only is Amazon the third largest retailer by sales in the US, it is the first primarily ecommerce retailer to create a chemicals policy. Ecommerce represents a challenge in terms of implementing such a policy, but as shoppers increasingly turn to online retailers for many of their purchasing needs, this also presents a major opportunity to increase the availability of safer products.

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Walmart joins ranks of retailers pulling toxic paint strippers from shelves

Today, Walmart announced that it will stop selling paint strippers containing methylene chloride or N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) by February 2019 – making it the first general merchandise retailer to take such action. Walmart’s announcement follows the strong leadership demonstrated by Lowes, Home Depot, and Sherwin Williams, all of which have committed not to sell methylene chloride- and NMP-based paint stripping products by the end of the year. Importantly, Walmart’s action goes beyond its U.S. stores, including those in Mexico, Canada, and Central America, as well as its online store.

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Can we collaborate our way to safer chemicals?

Consumer products are a source of our exposure to toxic chemicals. Pressed by consumer demand and regulatory scrutiny around the globe, companies have increasingly committed to removing toxic ingredients from everyday products. One of the most difficult barriers to designing safer, more sustainable products is ensuring that the replacement ingredients are both effective and safe.

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