Chemicals and consumer products
The impact of chemicals on human health and the environment has long been a matter of concern for manufacturers and retailers when considering product formulation, development and manufacture.
All Boots products are in some way made or processed using chemicals, whether they are manufactured or occur naturally; we simply cannot exist as society or as a business without them. Managing the use of chemicals in a sustainable, ethical and safe manner is fundamental to our business, which is why we've committed to adopt a leadership position within the retail sector for the use of chemicals, openly and transparently resolving issues to ensure that our customers' trust in the Boots brand is maintained.
While safety will always be our first priority in our decision making processes, we also recognise that there are many other issues (such as price, quality and efficacy) that our customers consider important in their purchasing decisions. We always seek solutions that protect the environment while providing our customers with the products they desire.
Boots precautionary approach
"Where there are reasonable grounds for concern that a chemical used in our product could be harmful to human health or the environment, we will always take appropriate precautionary measures."
- Chair of the Boots Chemical Working Group 2003
"For over a decade we have applied our precautionary approach to the choice of chemicals we use in products ensuring that materials we use continue to meet the highest safety profile."
- Chair of the Boots Chemical Stewardship Group 2012
Applying our precautionary approach requires judgments to be made about the nature and level of threat to human health and the action that should be taken, if any, to lessen or eliminate the potential harm. This is beyond legal compliance.
To enable us to continue to provide safe products for current and future generations of Boots UK customers, and to make informed decisions on their behalf, our Chemical Stewardship Group is charged with maintaining a database of chemicals and to provide the business with expert, impartial advice on their usage. A Chemical Working Group was originally established in 2003 and made up of specialists from a number of disciplines, including chemistry, toxicology and environmental management. The group was responsible for the development and publication of our policy and strategy on the use of chemicals published in 2003 following a stakeholder dialogue process independently hosted by the Environment Council. This strategy, signed off in 2003 at Boots UK board level, commits us to take a precautionary approach to the use of chemicals to ensure that we only use chemicals with a proven safe history of use.
In 2012 the Chemical Working Group became the Chemical Stewardship Group, with a new chair and extended membership that includes specialists from the former Chemical Working Group and experts from other businesses within Alliance Boots. The enlargement of the working group and the expanded focus on a 'cradle-to-grave' view of chemical use is reflected in its new name.
We set realistic but challenging targets and objectives as appropriate. We take account of facts, on-going debates, public perception and stakeholder dialogue to ensure that we're addressing the right issues at the right pace, and then take decisive action for the benefit of our customers, the environment, our business and society as a whole. Our targets are published in our Priority Substances List, which is updated regularly and details the chemicals of concern (and their uses) and the action we are taking on them. In assessing continuing or future use of a particular chemical, the Chemical Stewardship Group gives close consideration to a number of factors:
- immediate health hazard and longer term threats to health (bio-accumulation etc)
- environmental (cradle-to-grave) impacts
- product efficacy
- availability and cost of alternatives
- regulatory constraints
- customer concerns.
We're constantly working to improve our performance in this area and are committed to further developing our expertise on 'green' chemistry, for example - exploring how green and sustainable chemistry solutions can be used in consumer products - and continue to examine best practice within the industry in order to increase our ability to influence our supply chain on issues relating to the safe use of chemicals.
Position statements (2)