Danish co-op to exclude chemicals from own-brand products

A Danish co-op is to phase out 12 groups of substances and chemicals from its own-label products by the end of 2017.

COOP Danmark’s quality manager, Malene Teller-Blume, said the retailer plans to exclude a “dirty dozen” substances which, although legal, it believes are harmful to health and the environment.

“When we can make a substitution and there is a better choice of chemical, then why not go for it?” said Ms Teller-Blume at the Copenhagen Chemicals Summit 2016. “We can do it because we have a lot of private labels both in non-food and food.”

The substances on the “dirty dozen” list are: bisphenol A (BPA); fluorinated compounds; polluting washing detergents; pesticides; suspected endocrine disruptors; PVC and phthalates; chemicals in textiles; substances identified as SVHCs; allergenic scented substances and preservatives; tricoslan; cleaning products with chlorine and cationic surfactants; and the preservative methylisothiazolinone (MI).

The organisation banned BPA and bisphenol in June, replacing them with epoxy lacquer in cans. It has never used MI in its own brand products and no longer stocks brands containing the substance.

COOP, which is the largest retailer of consumer goods in Denmark with over 1.4 million members, also wants to place pressure on suppliers of branded products to phase out the 12 groups of substances. It has stopped selling Colgate Total toothpaste because it contains the antibacterial compound tricolsan, and Huggies baby wipes, which contain MI.

Ms Teller-Blume told the summit: “It’s better if you have safe substitution, but it’s a challenge. Ecolabelling is preferable and for COOP is often the answer. Whenever there is ecolabelling we prefer to have this on our products.”

She added that the co-op works on a “case-by-case basis” in cooperation with NGOs, authorities, ecolabels, universities and experts including the Danish Consumer Council.