A report card on retailer actions to eliminate toxic chemicals
Click each company's logo to see how they scored
“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 promote safer chemicals in products since the Mind the Store campaign was launched in 2013.
“Who’s Minding the Store?” evaluated the publicly available safer chemicals policies of eleven of the nation’s largest retailers: Albertsons, Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, CVS Health, The Home Depot, Kroger, Lowe’s, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart Stores (Walmart and Sam’s Club). These retailers were selected for evaluation as they were either the top ten U.S. retailers (by sales) the Mind the Store campaign first challenged in 2013 or are now among the top ten U.S. retailers by sales.
We developed a scoring rubric with 13 categories of criteria (list below) to evaluate retailers’ policies and practices. We aligned the criteria with other corporate safer chemicals policies and best practices identified in the BizNGO Principles for Safer Chemicals, BizNGO Guide to Safer Chemicals and the Chemical Footprint Project. Each of the categories contain a maximum number of possible points, ranging from 0 to 20 points, depending on the weight we assigned each of the categories based on our subjective determination of which were most important to the goal of eliminating exposure to harmful chemicals. The maximum number of points across the 13 categories translate to a maximum possible score of 130 points. We created a tiered grading system for each category, awarding points for steps retailers can take on the journey to safer retailer chemical policies and programs beyond basic regulatory compliance. We developed a curved letter grading system to correspond with the number of points, ranging from F to A+ (see the chart below).
After developing and refining the criteria, we reviewed retailers’ self-reported information, including corporate social responsibility/sustainability reports, websites, news releases and blog posts in the summer and early fall of 2016. We also reviewed official correspondence between the Mind the Store campaign and the retailers. After grading the retailers, we sent each of the eleven retailers their draft score, providing them an opportunity to review our findings, disclose additional practices and make new commitments to bring safer chemicals to market. We followed up with each retailer multiple times to ensure they received their draft grade and understood the deadline and process. We set up meetings with a number of retailers to review and discuss our findings. After receiving input, we then adjusted and finalized each score based on any new information that was disclosed. We also slightly refined and updated the scoring rubric, to reflect some of the retailer initiatives and new commitments.
Below is a list of the 13 categories describing the “best in class” actions needed to achieve the maximum number of points for each category. The full scoring rubric spreadsheet and the detailed scoring spreadsheet put the appropriate links where underlined can be downloaded at the links on this page.
Key resources for “Who’s Minding the Store?”
- Detailed Grades: view in Google Sheets
- Scoring Rubric: download in Microsoft Excel
- Grading Table: how we calculated grades
- Glossary: terms referenced in “Who’s Minding the Store?”
- List: top U.S. retailers by sales
- Background: about the Mind the Store campaign
- Hazardous 100+: list of chemicals
Description of Actions Needed to Earn Maximum Points
Oversight: Assigned corporate management responsibility
A corporate manager has explicit responsibility for product safety related to chemical hazards in products (going beyond basic regulatory compliance) as part of sustainability, environmental, health & safety (EH&S), procurement, and supply chain management; company provides financial and other incentives to employees for successful implementation of their retailer safer chemicals policy; AND has Board or Senior Management engagement in the implementation of safer chemicals policy.
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
Retailer has a written safer chemicals policy that aims to avoid all chemicals of high concern (CHCs) in products and packaging they offer for sale to their customers; includes a Beyond Restricted Substance list for chemicals of high concern for at least one major product category; has set public quantifiable goals for reducing and eliminating CHCs in the products and packaging it sells; and has a manufacturing restricted substance list (MRSL) for at least one product category. (See glossary for terms).
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
Full chemical ingredient information collected for all private label and brand name formulated products AND generic material content for articles (see definition of full chemical ingredient information in glossary).
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
The company quantifies reductions (by weight) in the use of several chemicals of high concern in multiple product categories.
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
The company provides strong assurance that detailed alternatives evaluation guidelines are applied, and either commissions or requires suppliers to conduct a credible hazard assessment for alternatives to chemicals of high concern.
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
The company demonstrates transparency by (1) making publicly available its safer chemicals policy and Beyond Restricted Substance List (RSL), and by annually reporting its results; (Metrics include quantifying reductions of CHCs by weight, number or percent of products containing CHCs, and/or number or percent of suppliers selling products containing CHCs); and (2) by requiring all suppliers of formulated products and articles to publicly disclose all ingredients online and on product packaging, including fragrance ingredients, generic ingredients, contaminants, impurities, byproducts, allergens, and nanomaterials.
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
The company completes the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) survey.
Third-Party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
The company requires credible third party safer chemicals certification (see glossary for examples) in multiple categories of retailer private label products, which go beyond regulatory compliance.
Dialogue: Engaged in safer chemicals dialogue with the Mind the Store campaign
The company engages in extensive dialogue, and is open and responsive to regular inquiries and discussions.
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
The company participated in a joint public announcement with the Mind the Store campaign.
Continuous Improvement: Show continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
The company expanded the number of chemicals on its Beyond Restricted Substance List and expanded the number of product categories covered by its safer chemicals policy in the past year.
Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
Developed program to feature and market safer products on store shelves and/or website
Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
The company actively participates in a collaborative process to promote safer chemicals. Examples of such initiatives include the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Project (BPC), BizNGO Workgroup for Safer chemicals and Sustainable Materials (BizNGO), Green Chemistry & Commerce Council’s (GC3) Retailer Leadership Council (RLC) or GC3 Preservatives Project, and the Zero Discharge of Hazardous chemicals (ZDHC) Programme.