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Wal-Mart signs on to Chemical Footprint Project

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has signed on to a program called the Chemical Footprint Project, an initiative that measures chemical use at companies, the project's organizers announced Aug. 2.

In signing on to the program, Wal-Mart has agreed to encourage its suppliers and other companies in its "sphere of influence" to take the Chemical Footprint Project's 20-question survey, which addresses companies' corporate policies on chemicals and how effectively companies tracks chemical use. Eventually, the program aims to create a standard for measuring chemical use among companies, according to the Chemical Footprint Project. Wal-Mart participated in the survey last year.

Most of the companies that take the survey, including Wal-Mart, did not disclose their scores. Out of a possible 100, medical device maker Becton Dickinson posted a 53, the equipment company Case Medical reported a 62 and cosmetics company Beautycounter had the highest score at 92.

"[Chemical Footprint Project] is making data available for benchmarking and gap analysis, which are critical for us to understand where our company and our suppliers are on the journey to make more sustainable chemicals," said Zach Freeze, Wal-Mart's senior director for sustainability.

Wal-Mart was the first retailer to participate in the project, the Chemical Footprint Project said. Other retailers, such as Staples Inc. and consumer packaged goods and pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, have since joined the project. A group called Clean Production Action started the Chemical Footprint Project in 2014.

This is the latest of Wal-Mart's initiatives regarding sustainable chemical use. In 2014, the company updated its guide to suppliers asking them to "reduce, restrict and eliminate" the use of certain chemicals, as well as establishing a timeline for labeling products that use the chemicals.