Amazon Publishes Restricted Substances List

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October 15, 2018 - Kirsten Wallerstedt

Amazon has launched its first-ever restricted substances list (RSL). The new RSL lists substances that the company seeks to avoid in its Amazon-owned private-brand baby, household cleaning, personal care and beauty products in the U.S. 
The new RSL is just the beginning. Amazon states that the restricted substances list will be expanded to new substances and to additional brands, products and geographies in the future.
New policy
Amazon's chemicals policy is to reduce the use of chemicals of concern, and thus the company is encouraging manufacturers to phase out potentially hazardous chemicals from their products and to adopt green chemistry alternatives such as those defined in U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice Safer Chemicals Ingredients List.
Amazon also aims to provide customers with information about the chemicals in products so that they can make informed purchasing decisions. The company’s hope is that providing this information will encourage more brands to take steps to avoid including hazardous chemicals in the products that they sell on Amazon.
  • Restricted Substances List (RSL). The initial RSL will apply to Amazon-owned brands of products and will apply to: baby products (shampoo, lotion, wipes), household cleaning products (all-purpose, kitchen, and bathroom cleaners), personal care (shampoo, sanitizers, moisturizers) and beauty products (makeup).
    • The new RSL is a "baseline" list which will be updated regularly.
    • The current list includes: paraben preservatives, formaldehyde donor preservatives, phthalate solvents, nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) surfactants, toluene and triclosan.
  • Promote Third-Party Certifications. Amazon is developing new features that will make it easier for customers to identify products with safer formulations and sustainable attributes. The platform will incorporate third-party product sustainability certifications such as Safer Choice, Made Safe, Green Seal and Cradle to Cradle certifications.
Private sector trend
Another large consumer products company, Rite Aide, also recently launched new initiatives as part of its chemical policy including the addition of 61 substances to its list of chemicals of concern, jumping the total from eight to 69. The company has committed to eliminating the original eight chemicals of concern from its private-brand products by 2020. This year, the company has also committed to screening formulated products made by national brands to check for chemicals from its restricted substances list (RSL) as well as chemicals on other known lists such as California’s Proposition 65 and several lists from European Union regulations.
In 2017, CVS Pharmacy pledged to remove certain chemicals from its store brand beauty and personal care products by the end of 2019. Target committed to a similar goal by 2020.
Collectively, these actions reflect a shift in the industry toward a stronger push for brands and suppliers to avoid chemicals of concern in their products. Suppliers and brands should expect such measures to continue growing in the future.