Amazon Announces Chemicals Policy

    On October 5, Amazon issued its first-ever public Amazon Chemicals Policy. The policy includes restrictions on chemicals in its private brand baby, household cleaning, personal care, and beauty products in the US. Consumers are increasingly clamoring for products free of these chemicals of concern. The Policy boldly begins: We are committed to developing high-quality and affordable Private Brand products that customers love.

    Read the entire policy.

    Amazon Chemicals Policy

    Amazon’s Commitment

    Amazon strives to be earth’s most customer-centric company. We are committed to developing high-quality and affordable Private Brand products that customers love. Part of our commitment to quality is avoiding chemicals of concern in our products that can affect human health and/or the environment. We define chemicals of concern as those chemicals that: 1) meet the criteria for classification as a carcinogen, mutagen, reproductive, or other systemic toxicant; or 2) are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. We strategically prioritize which chemicals of concern to focus on based on product type, customer concerns, and the availability of safer alternatives.

    The baseline list of chemicals of concern included on our first Restricted Substance List (RSL) identifies the chemicals that we seek to avoid in Amazon-owned Private Brand Baby, Household Cleaning, Personal Care, and Beauty products in the US. The policy will be expanded to additional brands, product categories, and geographies over time.


    Reduce Usage of Chemicals of Concern: Amazon encourages manufacturers to phase out potentially hazardous chemistries and adopt green chemistry alternatives, such as those defined in US EPA’s Safer Choice Safer Chemicals Ingredients List, [1] which can reduce impacts to human health and the environment. We began our reformulation efforts towards this goal with Private Brand formulated products because we have the most control over how these products are developed.

    Enable Transparency: Our transparency efforts are grounded in the belief that Amazon should provide customers with information that helps them make informed purchasing decisions. Our goal is to make product health and sustainability data as easy for customers to access and interpret as price and customer reviews. This is why we are working on website features that will make it easier for customers to access comprehensive information about product ingredients and third-party certifications.[2] We hope that making this information more readily available for customers will encourage additional brands to move away from potentially hazardous chemistries in their products and adopt safer chemistries.

    Current Initiatives

    Implementing our First Restricted Substance List

    Our initial RSL is available here and will apply to all consumer Private Brand Baby (shampoo, lotion, wipes), Household Cleaning (all-purpose, kitchen, and bathroom cleaners), Personal Care (shampoo, sanitizers, moisturizers), and Beauty Products (make-up). It is based on the leading science and customer feedback, and includes a baseline list of chemicals of concern that all brands should work to phase out and eliminate. In particular, it focuses on paraben preservatives, formaldehyde donor preservatives, phthalate solvents, nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) surfactants, Toluene, and Triclosan. The set of RSL chemicals will be reviewed and updated periodically. Our brands have and will continue to develop even more restrictive RSLs for their businesses. Amazon has developed mechanisms to drive product formulation improvements and policy compliance with our suppliers.

    Enhance Transparency with Customers and Stakeholders

    Amazon pioneered Customer Reviews because we are committed to providing customers with information that helps them make informed purchasing decisions. Recent innovations include Amazon Pages, which allow brands to tell their story directly to customers, and the A+ Enhanced Marketing Content on detail pages, which allows brands to explain product features and benefits to customers. This information can include the steps they are taking to ensure that their product selection is safe and healthy, with the backing of a robust set of guidelines to maintain a high-bar of content quality to only include factual, easily verifiable, and objective information. To provide additional information on physical packaging, Amazon developed 2D codes through our Transparency service that are retailer agnostic and available to all brands. These codes can link to information about the products, their product supply chains, and any third-party certifications they have received.

    To further our commitment to transparency, in 2019 Amazon will continue to work on additional product category RSLs under this Chemicals Policy, and work to achieve fuller ingredient disclosure on its Private Brand product detail pages.

    Promote Third-Party Certifications

    Amazon has begun work on features that will make it easier for customers to discover, identify, and purchase products with safer formulations and sustainable attributes. This work will include making safer chemistry third-party product sustainability certifications such as Safer Choice, Made Safe, Green Seal, and Cradle to Cradle more prominent.

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    Christopher Durham
    Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.