RSLs are developed by companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other bodies (such as trade organizations). RSLs list chemicals of concern according to various criteria which may vary but often include acute human toxicity, carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, eco-toxicity, and persistence and bioaccumulation. Some RSLs list only chemicals that are currently regulated while others include chemicals of concern that are not yet restricted.
Many retailers begin their efforts to improve product chemicals management with the development and use of an RSL. Some retailers have created RSLs for internal use and some make their RSL publicly available. There are also sector-wide RSLs that list chemicals that are restricted or banned anywhere in the world.