Retailers play a key role in the supply chain as the interface between product manufacturers and customers. They face challenges in gathering information about chemicals in the products they source and sell, determining whether ingredients are of potential concern to human health and the environment and, if so, finding safer alternatives that are effective and meet customer demand.
Understanding the unique role of retailers in the chemical supply chain, the GC3 created the Retailer Leadership Council (RLC) in December 2013. Its mission is to promote safer chemicals, materials and products across retail supply and value chains.
Current members of the RLC include: Amazon, Best Buy, CVS Health, Home Depot, Kingfisher, Lowe’s, Meijer, Staples, Target, and Walmart. These retail leaders are working proactively to accomplish the following:
The RLC is designed to be an active learning community, so it meets monthly via conference call and yearly in person at the GC3 Innovators Roundtable. RLC members share best practices, challenges, and lessons learned, and hear from experts about the latest resources available to assist retailers in implementing their chemicals management programs. Each of the companies involved is on its own journey and at different stages in improving the sustainability of its product assortment through safer chemistry. All share a commitment to having an open dialogue to promote green chemistry research, development, education and adoption.
RLC Statement on Chemical Innovation Priorities and Transparency Roadmap
In June 2019, the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council (GC3) released a statement developed by its Retailer Leadership Council (RLC) outlining chemical functions and priority product categories where innovation in safer alternatives is needed, as well as a road map to encourage improvement in supply chain and public transparency of chemical ingredients in consumer products.
The RLC Statement on Chemical Innovation Priorities and Transparency Roadmap builds on earlier work (see background below on the Joint Statement on using Green Chemistry and Safer Alternatives to Advance Sustainable Products). The RLC Statement helps to implement several key elements of the Joint Statement, including goal setting and transparency. Although each participating retailer has a different product assortment and therefore a different set of priorities for safer chemistry, the GC3 Retailer Leadership Council has now collectively identified a set of chemical function and application priorities for innovation in safer alternatives. The Transparency Road Map, a critical starting point to understanding chemical innovation needs, outlines best practices in the short-term (2019–20) and includes a longer-term vision that will need further development by the entire chemicals supply chain.
The Joint Statement
From 2014 - 2016, the RLC engaged in a structured dialogue, facilitated by the GC3, with five major chemical manufacturers: Akzo Nobel, BASF, Chemours, Dow, and Eastman. The RLC requested this dialogue to share information about the demand signals for safer products that they were hearing from their customers and to understand from these chemical manufacturers how to accelerate the development and scale up of green chemistry solutions and increase transparency in the value chain.
This dialogue resulted in the publication in 2016 of the Joint Statement on using Green Chemistry and Safer Alternatives to Advance Sustainable Products, which was signed by all eleven participating companies. Since that time, each participating company has been working to implement the five elements of the Statement. The signers of the Joint Statement encourage any company that is part of the chemical supply chain to use the Joint Statement as a framework to enhance its chemicals management program by addressing 5 elements: goal setting and continuous improvement, communication, transparency, information on new chemicals and safer alternatives, and support for green chemistry education.
Retailer Tools for Safer Chemistry
The GC3 created the Retailer Tools for Safer Chemistry as a database that retailers can use to evaluate chemicals and products for potential human health and environmental impacts and identify safer chemicals, materials and products.
If your company is a retailer that would like to join the RLC, or if you simply want to learn more about the RLC, please contact Sally Edwards.