We are taking a leadership position in our sector to eliminate any hazardous chemicals from products sold across the business. We are developing a comprehensive compliance programme to ensure we meet the requirements of the EU REACH directive.
Verification and REACH
REACH aims to protect consumers and the environment from harmful substances and Kingfisher's long-standing Chemicals Action List also aims to ensure that the products we sell do not adversely affect customers, employees or the environment.
Kingfisher is integrating the requirements of REACH into its working practices and has invested in bespoke systems solutions and processes to manage chemicals.
Our focus over the past year has been to identify chemicals in products identified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) under REACH. Over 26,000 product lines have been screened by the Kingfisher Sourcing Organisation (KSO) using our new chemicals scorecard. Further work is planned to extend use of our chemicals scorecard across our operating companies. Both our UK and French operating companies will be using the scorecard for all high-priority vendors by the end of 2012.
Our chemicals scorecard automatically identifies the level of potential risk based on the type of product and materials used. This risk-based assessment enables Kingfisher to focus resources on the priority product categories that are likely to contain a substance or substances of concern. If required, we use nominated testing labs and testing methods to verify and log any hazardous chemicals that are potentially inside the product.
The chemicals scorecard forms part of our new Quality Management System (QMT) – a tool to screen products to ensure they meet Kingfisher standards. We have an ongoing commitment to meet the REACH standards: we review existing products when a new SVHC is added to the REACH list, and filter those that ‘may contain’ the new substance and recheck them. New substances of concern are identified under REACH every six months on average, with a total of 20 added in 2011. We are currently undertaking a project trial with Eurofins, a leader in environmental laboratory testing, as a way to verify the components of each product that we stock and to improve our compliance with REACH.
We work in four stages to remove any hazardous chemical, known as the F & 3Rs (Find, Reduce, Reformulate, Resource). In addition to our work to identify any hazardous chemicals, we have engaged with a number of vendors on projects to phase out or eliminate chemicals of concern.
In 2011, Kingfisher introduced 11 core brands across the network. This Group alignment means that we will be able to create the brand criteria (or DNA) in the coming months and years to aid in the removal of any hazardous chemicals. In future, the same DNA will be applied across the Group for new products to create a more harmonised buying process. In the medium term, REACH could also help us to realise our wider corporate ambitions around waste and recycling. Greater knowledge of a product brings us closer to the closed-loop model of recycling to which we aspire.
Consumer buying choices
We are making alternative products available that remove hazardous chemicals. We now offer Clean Spirit, a product launched by B&Q UK in 2011 as an alternative to white spirit. These product introductions also give us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the market and incentivise commercial teams to find and stock these products.
Our businesses sell large volumes of paint and we have worked with suppliers over time to reduce the environmental impact, particularly the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). We currently measure VOCs in our own-brand paint ranges. In 2011/12, the average VOC content was 67 g/litre, a reduction of 21% over the year. There is significant variation in the VOC content of different categories of paint product – most wall and ceiling paints have minimal VOC content, while thinners such as white spirit make a relatively high contribution to the overall total (in the range of around 800 g/litre). The reduction over the past year has been due to a relative increase in own-brand sales of wall and ceiling paints.
B&Q UK tracks the VOC content of both own-brand and supplier-branded paint products – providing a more accurate reflection of performance since this data covers all paint products sold. It has achieved a reduction of 73% in the average VOC content of all paint and coating products since detailed monitoring began in 1995 – from 191 g/litre in 1995/96 to 52 g/litre in 2011/12.
Kingfisher has been the chair for Chemicals at The European DIY-Retail Association (EDRA) and the British Retail Consortium, representing the retailer's perspective for these associations. We also work with other retailers and external businesses, as well as enforcement agencies, such as those involved in WEEE and REACH compliance.