Over the past four years, Sherwin-Williams has demonstrated a relatively stable performance trend in its ChemScore ranking, with slight fluctuations. Their journey began with 15 points in 2020, reaching 17, and subsequently falling to 11, now resting at 15, resulting in a C- rating. Sherwin-Williams has consistently engaged with us each year, reflecting an ongoing commitment to transparency. The company manages 25 SIN List substances, a marginal increase from the previous year. Sherwin-Williams also manages three persistent chemicals, an increase from the previous year. With 85 per cent of its sold production known, the company is at the top regarding transparency, but still with some room for improvement.
Sherwin-Williams actively markets its Sustainable Advantaged product portfolio and promotes one such product on ChemSec’s Marketplace. Its take-back schemes for leftover paints contribute to a circular process, earning them one point out of two. However, the absence of hazardous chemical information limits the score.
In conclusion, Sherwin-Williams’ progress is marked by steady efforts and notable improvements, particularly in Category 2. However, there are areas, such as chemical transparency and a more robust circular policy, where further attention is warranted.
Opportunities for improvement
- Map and phase out persistent chemicals
Sherwin-Williams produces or uses at least three persistent chemicals. These substances are known as “forever chemicals” due to the fact that they do not break down in nature. These chemicals — which are linked to many negative health effects — instead build up over time, creating consequences that are becoming increasingly detrimental. Not only for human health and the environment but also for investors.Companies reliant on such chemicals risk stranded assets now that the regulatory speed is accelerating. They are also exposed to significant liability risks since more chemical companies are being sued for contamination and bodily injury. Sherwin-Williams should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of persistent chemicals (or products that contain them). The company should publish a time-bound phase-out plan for each persistent chemical and a realistic road map with clear KPIs to track progress.
- Reduce hazardous portfolio
Scientists agree that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary and become an urgent global crisis, threatening both ecosystems and human health. Since Sherwin-Williams has 25 hazardous chemicals in its product portfolio, a key improvement point for the company is to reduce this number. Sherwin-Williams should therefore identify all uses, as well as publish the share of revenue and production volume of hazardous chemicals (or products that contain them). It should also publish a reduction road map of each hazardous chemical together with an annual progression report. Ideally, the company should commit to having a toxic-free product portfolio within the next decade. If the company decides to continue producing a hazardous substance, it needs to present a rationale for its essential use and prove that no feasible alternatives are available at present. In such a case, the company should also state the share of the R&D budget spent on finding a safer alternative for that particular substance.
- Increase circularity
The company is actively engaged in sustainable practices, having a portfolio of environmentally conscious products and utilising biobased and recycled feedstock. Its collaboration in establishing a takeback scheme for leftover paints demonstrates practical steps toward circularity. The logical progression now involves formalising these efforts within a comprehensive strategic circular policy. This policy should incorporate clear, measurable targets and indicators to monitor and evaluate progress effectively.