Reckitt Benckiser (RB) has committed to providing full transparency of ingredients in its consumer products by 2020 and has said it will phase out use of microbeads by 2018.
The UK-based company’s 2016 sustainability report outlines the plans for its portfolio of personal care and household products, which includes the brands Cillit Bang, Clearasil, Dettol, Harpic, Vanish and Veet. The commitments come soon after it was revealed that RB's humidifier steriliser products, sold in South Korea, were linked to lung disease cases and deaths in the country.
In comments to Chemical Watch, RB says it ceased manufacture of products containing microbeads at the end of 2016 and is currently in a transition period, with a target of completing a global phase-out by the end of this year.
It will replace microbeads with the nanomaterial silicon dioxide, which it says has been assessed against the company’s safety, environmental and quality standards.
RB says it is "supportive of a solution that provides consumers with access to ingredients (including fragrances) in products they purchase, while also protecting information classed as confidential".
During this year, RB says it will continue to investigate how it can increase ingredient transparency coverage geographically and for key ingredient classes.
It is participating in a working group with the State of California, NGOs and fragrance suppliers on ingredient transparency which will include "an element of fragrance disclosure".
In addition, the sustainability report says that the company initiated a full strategic review of its restricted substances list (RSL) in 2016, including ingredient restrictions, methodology and governance.
Commenting to Chemical Watch, it says that as a result of the review it has implemented a dedicated safety, quality and compliance team and a new RSL governance model.
However, NGO ChemSec has criticised the report for not containing enough detail about how the aims will be achieved. Senior business and investors adviser Sonja Haider says it is "not very precise" and there are not many "real targets with time limits to them".
She also says the company's microbeads strategy is lagging behind other companies, such as Unilever, which phased out microbeads from its products in 2015.
Ms Haider says it is not clear whether the company’s commitment to 100% ingredient transparency includes fragrance disclosure.