Our homes should be our havens. There should be tough safety standards for the products we bring into our children’s bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms. It’s time we prioritize the health of our families above the special interests of big chemical corporations.
We’ve led the world in scientific innovation for a century. If we can develop chemicals to convert sunlight into electricity, then we can lead the world in developing safer, more effective chemicals to use in our cleaning products, clothing, buildings, and electronics.
Retailers are on the frontlines of consumer discontent with product safety and hazardous chemicals in everyday household products. During the past year, some of America’s largest retailers have taken significant steps to drive harmful chemicals out of products. However, many other U.S. retailers have failed to demonstrate meaningful progress on chemical safety.
The legal, financial, and regulatory risks associated with toxic chemicals continue to grow. Retailer reputation and customer loyalty are also at jeopardy, especially when the federal government is rolling back regulations intended to safeguard public health from dangerous chemicals. Retailers cannot afford to wait for slow-paced government regulation to catch up with the backlog of thousands of chemicals that remain untested for safety or are already known to be hazardous to public health and the environment. Relying on self-policing by the chemical industry and product manufacturers will not satisfy the concerns of millions of consumers, who are increasingly voting with their dollars, demanding greater transparency and safer products.
It’s time for retailers to “mind the store” by requiring safer chemicals and safer products in order to promote healthy families and a healthful environment.
Based on our findings, we recommend that every major U.S. retailer should:
- 1:Policy: Publish a written safer chemical policy, with senior management and board level engagement and accountability for suppliers, which measures and publicly reports on continuous improvement toward reducing, eliminating and safely substituting toxic chemicals in products and packaging;
- 2:Goals and Metrics: Develop clear public goals with timelines and metrics to measure success in eliminating chemicals of concern and reducing retailers’ chemical footprint;
- 3:Transparency: Embrace “radical transparency” to meet rising consumer demand for: full public disclosure of chemical ingredients in products and packaging; safer chemicals policies; and progress made in eliminating harmful chemicals and requiring informed substitution; and
- 4:Foresight: Anticipate being graded in the future on progress made on chemical safety in products sold at retail, whether or not your company was included in the 2016 or 2017 editions of Who’s Minding the Store? – A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals.