Seven Major U.S. Retailers Commit to Reduce Use of Toxic Chemicals in Their Products and Packaging

Seventy percent of the retailers evaluated earned D’s and F’s for failing to publicly announce basic safer chemical policies. (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Seventy percent of the retailers evaluated earned D’s and F’s for failing to publicly announce basic safer chemical policies. (Natural Resources Defense Council)

By ecoRI News staff

The Mind the Store campaign recently released its second report card on toxic chemicals in consumer products, which found that two-thirds of 30 major U.S. retailers remain serious laggards.

The report, Who’s Minding the Store?: A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals, includes evaluations of 19 retailers for the first time.

Overall, 11 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. Rhode Island-based CVS Health received a B+. In the past year, seven of these 11 retailers — CVS Health, Albertsons, Best Buy, Costco, The Home Depot, Target, and Walmart — have committed to new, safer chemical policies or initiatives. These initiatives show growing consumer concern and scientific evidence of health impacts from dangerous chemicals, according to Mind the Store.

“We are happy to see that Rhode Island’s own CVS Health has listened to its customers by removing many toxic chemicals from its store brand products and improving transparency of ingredients,” said Michelle Beaudin, a Clean Water Action organizer.

In addition to CVS Health, Apple, Walmart, IKEA, Whole Foods Market, and Target received the highest grades, scoring a B+ or better. The report also notes that some retailers such as Amazon, Walgreens, and Staples are developing chemicals policies. Walgreens and Staples plan to launch their chemicals policies in 2018, according to the report.

However, 70 percent of the retailers evaluated earned 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: 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 corporations, except for Toys R Us, received 0 out of 135 possible points.

The report also found that, during 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 a half of the 30 retailers evaluated haven’t publicly reported any progress in reducing or eliminating chemicals of concern during that time.

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.”

Mike Belliveau, co-author of the report, said, “Retailers remain on the frontline of consumer discontent with the chemical safety of everyday products. The good news is that some are making the grade, but too many are failing to take the most basic public steps to eliminate dangerous chemicals from the products they sell.”

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 toward safer chemicals.