A report card on retailer actions to eliminate toxic chemicals
Click each company's logo to see how they scored
Not one company received highest honors in the first-ever report card issued to the largest retailers on product safety and toxic chemicals. A handful of U.S. chain stores are making meaningful progress in ensuring that dangerous chemicals are not used in everyday products they carry, including Walmart and Target, who earned B grades, and CVS Health, who received a C. For example, Walmart reported a 95% reduction by weight of 16 “high priority” chemicals in certain products, and Target has adopted a list of more than 2,000 chemicals that it’s seeking to avoid in products sold on its shelves.
But with an average grade of D+, most retailers are barely making the grade. In fact, the laggards included Amazon, Costco, and Albertsons, who were all graded an F. Kroger barely passed with a D-. None of these retailers have even basic publicly available safer chemical policies.
A third group are middle-of-the-road performers, include Best Buy (C-), The Home Depot (D+), Walgreens (D), and Lowe’s (D). Each of these retailers reports that it is just beginning to develop safer chemical policies or is taking initial steps to wean its suppliers off of toxic chemicals. For example, Best Buy and Walgreens have pledged to adopt safer chemical policies, and The Home Depot and Lowe’s eliminated toxic chemicals known as phthalates from vinyl flooring.
Major retailers are on the frontlines of consumer discontent with product safety. Research by independent scientists and government agencies have shown that many consumer items, from beauty products and cleaners to furniture, clothing and home electronics contribute to human exposure to chemicals shown to cause cancer, harm brain development, trigger asthma or reduce fertility. The report card scored U.S. retailers on progress made since the national coalition Safer Chemicals Healthy Families launched its Mind the Store Campaign three years ago.
“Who’s Minding the Store? – A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals” – found some improvements in reducing the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and in increasing public disclosure of chemical ingredients, but concluded that much greater effort is needed to meet rising consumer demand for products free from toxic chemicals. The report recommends that all major U.S retailers should:
- Adopt a safer chemicals policy to drive reductions and substitution of toxic chemicals in products;
- Publicly disclose all product ingredients to honor consumers “right to know”; and
- Promote and defend third-party safer product standards that mark clear progress.
The Mind the Store Campaign scored eleven of the largest U.S. retailers across 13 performance categories related to safer products and toxic chemicals based on publicly available and self-reported information. Each retailer was given the opportunity to review and comment on its draft score, and to provide additional information. Retailers were ranked and issued letter grades based on their final scores.