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Greenbiz.com names the issue of toxic chemicals in products one of top 10 green business stories of 2007, in its State of Green Business 2008 report.


5. Companies Get Deadly Serious about Toxics

A succession of stories about toxic products from China brought new urgency to an already budding movement to reduce or eliminate the components of everything from toys to Toyotas that are hazardous to people and the planet.

Target was among several retailers to launch plans to reduce the amount of toxic materials in their products. Following a campaign by health and environmental groups, it said it would eliminate or reduce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from a range of products and packaging, including infant and children’s products,shower curtains, and tableware. Sears Holdings, parent of Kmart and Sears & Roebuck, followed suit, phasing out PVC. Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, and Apple announced similar measures. Some measures were the result of shareholder actions, as with Hasbro, whose shareholders filed a resolution urging the company to stop using PVC in its products. All told, thirteen resolutions aimed at reducing toxics were introduced by investors of major U.S. corporations during the 2007 proxy season, according to the Investor Environmental Health Network.

Cosmetics were also scrutinized, as new studies exposed the high number of toxic ingredients in personal care products. One report, entitled “Beneath the Skin: Hidden Liabilities, Market Risk and Drivers of Change in the Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Industry,” focused on the cosmetic industry’s lack of regulation in the U.S. Another study found that toxic jewelry imported from China could be traced back to U.S. electronic waste that had been shipped to Asian recyclers.

Even the iconic “new car smell” was under attack, a byproduct, it turned out, of bromines, lead, chlorine, and heavy metals used to manufacture automobiles, said the Ann Arbor–based Ecology Center, which compiled the first-ever guide to toxic chemicals in cars. Among models that scored highest on these chemicals were those from Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, as well as Toyota’s Scion.

© 2008 Greener World Media, Inc.