Retailers remain on the frontlines of consumer discontent with the chemical safety of the products they buy and sell. In its second annual report card on safer chemicals in consumer products, the Mind the Store Campaign found that one-third of 30 major U.S. retailers are leaders, but two-thirds remain serious laggards. More work is needed to ensure that the products that retailers buy and sell are free from dangerous chemicals of high concern to human health and the environment, throughout their supply chain.
For the second year in a row, retailers earned an average grade of D+ for the chemical safety of products sold at retail. However, those eleven retailers who were evaluated in both years raised their average grade from a D+ to a C. Seven out of those eleven retailers made significant improvements in their safer chemicals policies or programs. This good progress suggests that the Mind the Store Campaign has had a positive impact on product safety through its ongoing engagement with major retailers and consumers.
Among all 30 companies assessed this year, the retail leaders on safer chemical policies and products, ranked by total points scored, and with their earned grades indicated, are:
|#3 (tie)||B+||CVS Health|
|#5||B+||Whole Foods Market*|
|#8||C+||The Home Depot|
* recently acquired by Amazon, which was scored separately
However, 70% of the retailers evaluated remain serious laggards, earning D’s and F’s, for failing to adequately put basic safer chemical policies to work to ensure the chemical safety of their products and supply chain. The nine major retailers that received F grades, including eight who scored 0 out of 135 possible points, are listed below:
|#22||F||Toys “R” Us / Babies “R” Us|
|#23 (tie)||F||Ace Hardware|
|#23 (tie)||F||Ahold Delhaize|
|#23 (tie)||F||Dollar General|
|#23 (tie)||F||Office Depot|
|#23 (tie)||F||Sally Beauty|
|#23 (tie)||F||TJX Companies|
|#23 (tie)||F||Trader Joe’s|
During the last three years, at least a dozen retailers have significantly reduced or eliminated some chemicals of high concern in the products they buy and sell, including chlorinated solvents, NMP, flame retardants, BPA, phthalates, PFAS, formaldehyde, parabens, and other hazardous substances. Fourteen retailers reported no progress in reducing chemicals of concern over the past three years. Many are not doing enough to ensure that suppliers avoid regrettable substitutes when they phase out chemicals of high concern in products sold at retail.
Each retailer’s grade was based on points awarded for making progress in steps against fourteen criteria aimed at ensuring the chemical safety of the products they sell. The points scored were based on publicly available information. Each retailer was provided a draft score and grade and invited to provide feedback and additional information. Considerable input was received from retailers in writing and in meetings. Final scores were adjusted, often upward, based on new information received or separately announced. The criteria, which were applied equally to each retailer, address chemicals policy, management oversight, supplier accountability, supplier disclosure of chemicals, reduction or elimination of chemicals of high concern, safer alternatives policy, transparency of policies and product ingredients for consumers, chemical footprint, and use of third-party safety standards, along with several extra credit measures.