A report card on retailer actions to eliminate toxic chemicals
Click each company's logo to see how they scored
A growing body of credible scientific evidence has linked exposure to endocrine disruptors and other toxic chemicals in everyday products to an epidemic of diseases on the rise, such as cancers, learning and developmental disabilities, reproductive harm, obesity and diabetes, and asthma.
The production, use, and disposal of toxic chemicals in common household products is costly not only to our health, but to our society. A new peer reviewed study found that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as flame retardants, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) cost the United States more than $340 billion in health costs a year. The financial, legal, regulatory and reputational risks associated with toxic chemicals continue to grow. A recent United Nations report found that that over a recent three-year period, CVS Health, Costco, Walgreens, Target and Walmart paid a total of $138 million in fines for improper handling and disposal of products containing chemicals of concern.
As the costs to society and retailers bottom lines grow, big retailers have the power and moral responsibility to eliminate and safely substitute toxic chemicals to “mind the store.”
In 2013 Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families launched the Mind the Store campaign to challenge the nation’s biggest retailers to sell safer products that are free from toxic chemicals that threaten public health and the environment. We called on the top U.S. retailers to develop and implement robust chemicals policies that get tough on toxic chemicals and drive the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals out of commerce, transforming the marketplace.
Three years since the campaign was launched, “Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals” set out to evaluate the progress that has been made, challenges that remain, and the ongoing need for transformational change in the marketplace to build a safer and healthier economy for all. We developed a robust and detailed set of criteria across thirteen major categories to evaluate leading retailers’ policies, programs and progress in advancing safer chemicals and green chemistry solutions in products. Retailers were graded on a scale of 0 to 130 points, and a corresponding letter grading scale was developed to match the points. To evaluate retailers’ policies, we collected and reviewed publicly available information about their safer chemicals programs, and shared our draft findings with retailers, to provide them an opportunity to review our conclusions, disclose additional information and make new public commitments towards safer chemicals.
“Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals” is the first major evaluation of the safer chemicals programs of the largest retailers in the United States.
Our investigation found that while some retailers are making significant progress, too many retailers remain serious laggards. The nation’s biggest retailers must continue to expand and accelerate their policies and programs as the scientific evidence demonstrating the urgent public health crisis posed by hazardous chemicals continues to grow.
Mike Belliveau is the Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and a Senior Advisor to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Mike Schade is the Mind the Store Campaign Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
Design & Illustration: Amanda Frayer