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Target, Wal-Mart join together for green beauty products push

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Two of the nation's most powerful retail chains are partnering with a sustainability non-profit in an effort to make beauty and personal care products more green, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Target, Wal-Mart and Forum for the Future co-hosted a discussion forum in the Windy City Thursday, attended by personal care companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Aveda and Clorox/Burt's Bees, and other retailers including Walgreens, Sam's Club and Sears. (See a full list of the participants here.)

The meeting comes as demand for organic and natural personal care products – as well as more transparency about what's in them – rapidly increases, the Chicago Tribune says.

The goal of this Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit was to get everyone on the same page, Forum for the Future explains. Many companies and non-profits have done work on their own to improve product sustainability, but each entity often has different goals and strategies. The effort is fractured, which can be confusing for the customer, the group says. What it wants is better "harmonization," bolstered by Target and Wal-Mart's "unprecedented willingness" to work together.

Why the push? Customers want it

One of the driving forces behind the companies' collaborative effort is consumer demand.

One Target executive described customers' calls for sustainable products as "staggering," the Chicago Tribune reports.

In April, the company told Forbes 97 percent of the households that shop there purchase products that are organic or natural, and sales of such products are growing at a rate of 15-20 percent – faster than the industry-wide average of about 10 percent.

The Star Tribune notes both Target and Wal-Mart have implemented their own sustainability indices for personal care products, and Wal-Mart led the push for more efficient laundry detergents years ago.

In addition, an industry expert tells the paper the companies' size and clout makes them a force that can effect change within the market.

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