Kingfisher to phase-out 'harmful' chemicals across supply chain
Home improvement retailer Kingfisher will phase-out three potentially harmful chemical groups from its own branded products by 2025, with plans in place to extend the ban across its supply chain as part of the firm's Chemicals Roadmap.
The retailer will phase out phthalates, PFCs and halogenated flame retardants from own-branded products such as paint, textiles and PVC flooring. Kingfisher claims the majority of these chemicals are not currently regulated, but have been identified by the Roadmap as potentially harmful for consumers, factory workers and the environment.
The chemicals will be removed from more than 1,300 Kingfisher-owned stores across Europe, including B&Q and Screwfix outlets in the UK. The retailer will replace the chemicals with “more sustainable alternatives”. In products that use phthalates, Kingfisher is switching to orthophthalate-free plasticisers. Halogenated flame retardants are being switched to halogen-free flame retarding systems that maintain the same level of fire resistance. Finally, products that use PFCs will be replaced with water-resistant materials or PFC-free coatings.
Kingfisher’s head of sustainable chemicals management Paul Ellis said: “We have developed our Chemicals Roadmap to provide customers with sustainable products that respond to their desire for fewer and less harmful chemicals in their homes, while continuing to stay ahead of regulation and lead on sustainable chemical management in Europe.
“Achieving this aim takes time and requires collaboration across the global value chain and we welcome like-minded retailers to join us on this journey.”
Kingfisher will continuously review unregulated chemicals used across its supply and will look beyond regulations such as EU REACH to ensure that any chemicals of concern are dealt with appropriately.
In 2017, for example, Kingfisher became the first retailer to ban neonicotinoids from its flowering plant range, before the EU implemented a Europe-wide ban. The retailer has also worked to minimise the use of volatile organic compounds in its paints and decorating products.
Kingfisher is also working to upskill more than 100 suppliers through various training programmes. This number is expected in increase in 2019.
The Chemicals Roadmap is set to deliver on Kingfisher’s ambition of phasing-out high-risk chemicals, as defined in the retailer’s Sustainable Growth Plan. The plan features headline goals of achieving 50% of the group’s sales by 2020 from products that “actively make customers’ homes more sustainable” and to become a Net Positive business by 2050.
Kingfisher’s head of sustainability, Caroline Laurie, added: “This is just the latest step towards the goals set out in our Sustainable Growth Plan. We know a good home is healthy, happy and sustainable and we want to help make this a reality for all of our customers. We will use our scale and the power of our brands to drive positive change for the good of society, customers and the environment – and inspire others to do the same.”