Retailers Showing Leadership In Driving Healthier Building Materials

Bill Walsh | July 2018 | Newsletter

Building product retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, are showing welcome leadership in the drive toward healthier building materials. Their efforts are important both in scale, which could change the national supply chain, and scope, as these retailers are offering healthier products in all market segments, including lower priced items.

In October 2017, The Home Depot, the nation’s largest building products retailer, used recommendations from HBN to create  an industry leading Chemicals Strategy that removed twelve toxic chemicals from four product categories. This April, they expanded their strategy to exclude nine chemicals from residential household cleaning products by the end of 2022.  

Although Lowe’s, the nation’s second largest building products retailer, has not yet instituted a safer chemicals policy, it took an important step this May by  announcing that it will ban sales of methylene chloride paint strippers. Within one month, Sherwin Williams, the largest specialty retailer of paints, and The Home Depot followed suit.

These bans come in response to mounting consumer pressure on retailers to take action in lieu of recent EPA changes. In 2017, the EPA had proposed banning paint strippers containing these chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act, citing the products’ unreasonable risks to human health. However, after Scott Pruitt was confirmed as EPA Administrator, the agency deferred action on the proposal indefinitely, putting retailers in the hot seat.

These actions by retailers are driving the transformation to healthier building materials. We encourage you to read more about their decisions and the consumer campaign that secured them.