Short design-life products made of PVC have been a common, inexpensive, and functional choice for almost 50 years. But, vinyl can also be a risky choice of material for objects often handled by consumers, posing a risk of lead exposure, especially if made in China.
Activist groups can't fight the Vinyl Dragon, but they certainly are meeting with some success in persuading US-based retailers to design and sell products made of materials that pose a lower risk.
Sparked by a national campaign led by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), together with a coalition of health and environmental organizations, today Sears Holdings (Sears and Kmart) has announced its plans to begin phasing out products and packaging containing the toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, commonly known as vinyl. Sears and Kmart join Wal-Mart and Target, in reducing and phasing out PVC in products and packaging. Target's policy was just announced last month. Sears Holdings, the publicly traded parent of Kmart and Sears, Roebuck and Co., is the nation's sixth-largest retailer with over $50 billion in annual revenues and approximately 3,800 retail stores in the United States and Canada.
Sears Holdings has announced it is working to reduce and phase out PVC in its packaging and merchandise, including encouraging vendors to label their PVC-free merchandise. Additionally, Sears is working to identify safer, more sustainable and cost-effective alternatives to PVC and incorporate them into the design and manufacturing process for private label merchandise and packaging.