BENTONVILLE, — Wal-Mart Stores says it plans to begin implementing its "Preferred Chemical Principles" to establish a clear set of preferred chemical characteristics for product ingredients.

The purpose is to drive the development of more sustainable products for "mother, child, and the environment," according to the company. The first three of these priority chemicals are being announced at the Molecule-to-Molecule meeting, a two-day event hosted by the Chemical Intensive Product Network (CIP), a group designed to engage suppliers, NGO's, government, academics and other subject matter experts on issues and opportunities around product sustainability.

"One of our environmental goals at Wal-Mart is to sell products that sustain our resources and our environment," said John Westling, senior vice president and general merchandise manager, Merchandise Division, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "We are excited about how this set of principles will help move us toward more sustainable products for mother, child and the environment, and the three priority chemicals we are focusing on are a first step in implementation. We plan to extend this effort to 17 additional chemicals over the next two years. We anticipate that our efforts will encourage our suppliers and their suppliers to innovate new product formulations that will be better for our customers and for the environment."

The company has adopted a three-stage process to drive innovation and inspire suppliers to find substitutes for chemicals of concern. The three stages include, (1) Awareness - where participating suppliers will be given a period to identify for Wal-Mart any of their products that currently use one of the priority chemicals as ingredients, (2) Development of an Action Plan - where suppliers communicate to Wal-Mart their plans regarding the Priority Chemicals in their products, and (3) Recognition and Reward - where Wal-Mart acknowledges the suppliers who participate in this effort.

The first three chemicals include two pesticides: propoxur and permethrin (both used in household insect control products) and an ingredient in some cleaning products: nonyl phenol ethoxylates (NPE). The company's preference is to move to alternative chemicals that meet the Wal-Mart Preferred Chemical Principles in its efforts toward a more sustainable future.