Seven Major Retailers Commit to Reduce Use of Toxic Chemicals in Products and Packaging

Today the Mind the Store campaign, a program of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, released its second annual report card on toxic chemicals in consumer products, and found that one-third of 30 major U.S. retailers are leaders, but two-thirds remain seriously behind.

Retail giant fared badly in Mind the Store’s ranking, which tracks how well companies reduce the toxic chemicals in the products they sell and disclose their presence.

Overall, eleven retailers evaluated in both 2016 and 2017 have showed substantial improvements in the past year, raising their grade from an average of D+ to C. Seven of these eleven retailers announced significant improvements over the last year alone: Albertsons Companies, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, The Home Depot, Target, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. released new safer chemicals policies or initiatives. This improvement shows both the impact of the Mind the Store Campaign, as well as growing consumer concern and scientific evidence of health impacts from dangerous chemicals.

Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and report co-author said, “We are thrilled that major retailers like Walmart, CVS Health, and Target are driving a race to the top to eliminate dangerous chemicals that threaten our families’ health. At the same time, far too many are lagging behind, failing to meet the rising consumer demand for healthy products. This holiday season, retailers should give us the gift of a toxic-free future.”

Apple, Wal-Mart Stores, CVS Health, Ikea, Whole Foods Market, and Target received the highest grades, scoring a B+ or above. These companies are setting the pace for the entire retail sector by making meaningful progress toward safer chemicals in products. Meanwhile the report reveals that some retailers like Amazon, Walgreens, and Staples are developing chemicals policies. Walgreens and Staples plan to launch their chemicals policies in 2018.

CVS eliminated substances such as parabens and phthalates from almost 600 private-label beauty and personal-care products, while Albertsons removed BPA from more than 80 percent of its own-brand canned foods. 

However, 70 percent of the retailers evaluated remain serious laggards, earning D’s and F’s, for failing to publicly announce basic safer chemical policies to ensure the chemical safety of their products and supply chain. Nine retailers received a failing grade of “F”: Ace Hardware, grocery chain owner Ahold Delhaize, Dollar General, Kohl’s, Office Depot, Sally Beauty, TJX, Toys “R” Us / Babies “R” Us, and Trader Joe’s. All of these, except for Toys “R” Us / Babies “R” Us, received 0 out of 135 possible points.

The report also found that, over the past three years, at least a dozen retailers achieved significant reductions or elimination of dangerous chemicals in the products they carry, far ahead of any government-imposed restrictions. Unfortunately, nearly one-half of the 30 retailers evaluated have not publicly reported any progress in reducing or eliminating chemicals of concern over the past three years.

For a full list of the retailers with their letter and corresponding number grades along with the methodology used, This new, interactive website enables users to view and sort retailers by their grades and consumer product sector. Consumers can also use the report website to email and “Tweet” to companies, urging them to improve.

Tom Hucker, Safer Chemicals Advocate for NRDC, said “The Trump Administration is not going to protect you from toxic chemicals. It’s up to retailers to disclose dangerous chemicals in products they sell and to phase them out quickly. This new report card identifies those retailers working to reduce the risk to families and others that don’t seem to care.”

To evaluate retailers’ policies, the Mind the Store campaign, the Getting Ready for Baby campaign, and the Campaign for Healthier Solutions collected and reviewed publicly available information about corporate safer chemicals programs, and shared draft findings with retailers to provide them an opportunity to review the conclusions, disclose additional information, and make new public commitments towards safer chemicals.

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