1000 UK stores to phase out risky chemicals

Posted: 5 June 2003

The UK DIY retailer Focus Wickes is the latest major retailer to sign up to Friends of the Earth's pledge to phase out risky chemicals from their products. Focus Wickes follows in the footsteps of other DIY retailers Homebase and B&Q who signed the pledge last year.

Focus Wickes is, by turnover, the second largest DIY retailing group in the UK, having some 430 stores nationwide. Focus Wickes, B&Q and Homebase are the three main DIY retailers in the UK. They own a combined number of over 1060 stores nationwide and represent over 40 per cent of the DIY market nationwide.

This is good news for consumers and particularly concerned parents, as unborn babies, babies and toddlers are most vulnerable to the effects of risky chemicals because their bodies are still developing. The environmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, is campaigning for safer chemicals in every day products because many of the chemicals currently used have not been properly tested. Studies have raised concerns about possible links to testicular cancer, the early onset of puberty in girls and behavioural disorders.

Retailers signing up to the pledge would agree the following:

  • To use official lists, identify which man-made chemicals are suspected of building up in people's bodies (bioaccumulation), or interfering with the hormone, immune or nervous systems

  • Produce a strategy to identify which of its own brand and branded products, including fruit and vegetables, contain these chemicals

  • Produce a timeline to phase out these chemicals from its own-brand products, with the aim of eliminating them in 5 years, starting with those chemicals which pose the greatest threat

  • Put pressure on manufacturers of branded products to do the same

  • Report publicly on progress on an annual basis
Karine Pellaumail of Friends of the Earth said:

"We are delighted that Focus Wickes has joined other DIY retailers in signing Friends of the Earth's risky chemicals pledge. This is good news for consumers who want to buy DIY products free from health-threatening chemicals and shows that top retailers are becoming increasingly careful and responsible about the products they sell and the chemicals they contain."

Related links:

Friends of the Earth-UK

Chemicals and Health press briefing