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Kingfisher to phase three chemical families out of own brand products

company - B&Q store - source Kingfisher Plc

European home improvement company Kingfisher has committed to phasing out phthalates, perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals and halogenated flame retardants from its own-brand products by 2025.

The company says the substances will be removed from products on the shelves of its more than 1,300 stores across Europe, Russia and Turkey. These include B&Q and Screwfix outlets in the UK and Ireland, and Castorama and Brico Dépôt in France.

It adds that they will replace the substances with "more sustainable alternatives".

Some compounds from the three groups are regulated under the EU’s REACH, such as PFOA, the halogenated flame retardant decaBDE, and phthalates DEHP and DIBP. The groups, however, consist of a wide range of substances, many of which do not fall under regulatory measures.

The company decided on a blanket phase out of the chemical groups because many of the substances can be found in home improvement products, such as paint, textiles and PVC flooring. It has also "identified them as harmful" in its own ongoing review of the chemicals in its supply chain, which considers risks for consumers, factory workers and the environment.

Another factor, says Kingfisher, is that safer alternatives have been identified and are "available for use in our product ranges". 

The company has already started to replace substances, according to a Kingfisher spokesperson. It is working with third parties, such as US organisation the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3), to assess viable alternatives. "We are working collaboratively with our suppliers to progressively use these alternative substances in more of our products," he said.

Kingfisher's Sustainable Growth Plan, which sets out its 2025 goals including those on chemicals, says it will "start by replacing five substances with green alternatives". 

However, the spokesperson said the company is not yet in a position to disclose details about these, or the alternatives, as it is "commercially sensitive and will require scaling into the market".

In addition to replacing the targeted substances, it will consider using different materials to avoid their use.

The spokesperson confirmed that it was Kingfisher's ambition to expand the phase out beyond own-brand products, once it has achieved its 2025 target. 

Chemicals roadmap

The commitment is part of Kingfisher’s chemicals roadmap, which sets out plans to phase out the most high-risk chemicals. The roadmap is an element of the company's Sustainable Growth Plan.

Paul Ellis, Kingfisher’s head of sustainable chemicals management, 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," said Mr Ellis.

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