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Another Retailer Issues Chemical Policy

On October 16, 2019, office products retailer Staples released its updated chemicals policy “to identify the presence of chemicals of concern in products and support innovations that result in an orderly transition to safer alternatives.“ The policy applies to all Staples product brands and to national brands sold by the company.

Under the policy, Staples expects its suppliers to “actively work[] to identify and use safer chemicals across their product portfolios while meeting key product performance needs.” To that end, Staples has developed a Priority Chemicals of Concern list. In addition to identifying specific chemicals of concern, the list describes the restrictions imposed on those chemicals. For example, the list identifies a number of phthalates and requires that they not be intentionally added to formulated products or to office supplies. The list also restricts the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to not more than 1% in furniture.

Under the policy, Staples will request its suppliers to “identify which products contain chemicals of concern and those that are below specific thresholds or free of intentionally added chemicals of concern,” and will encourage suppliers to seek safer alternatives. Under the “Transparency” section of the policy, Staples states that it “will encourage [its] suppliers to provide chemical information on their packaging and/or web sites and to openly share information about chemicals on [its] Priority Chemicals of Concern List with customers when requested.”

Retailer chemical regulation remains an ongoing trend, and Staples’ policy is yet another example. Retailers with economic leverage are establishing standards for products sold nationwide, in some instances effectively supplanting state and federal regulation – and this trend is sure to continue.

Grimaldi Law Offices has been advising clients for over 20 years on chemical and product regulation. For knowledgeable advice and in-depth analysis on your chemical regulatory compliance obligations, contact Grimaldi Law Offices at (415) 463-5186 or email us at [email protected].

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Ms. Grimaldi maintains a diverse environmental law practice focusing on chemical and product regulation and litigation defense. Her practice areas include Proposition 65, California's Safer Consumer Products Regulations, California's Rigid Plastic Packaging Container Act and the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Ms. Grimaldi graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law magna cum laude and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bacteriology from University of California, Davis. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a research assistant in laboratories at the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Research Institute and at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.