Best Buy earned a B grade by scoring 71 out of 135 possible points, reflecting significant improvement since its C- grade in 2016, and ranking 7th overall among 30 retailers. Best Buy made significant progress in expanding their work on chemicals over the past year. In August 2017, Best Buy released its new Chemical Management (Corporate) Statement that discusses plans to phase out chemicals of concern and improve chemicals management, states a preference for EPA Safer Choice chemicals, and notes the company has a Restricted Substances List (RSL) and Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL). Best Buy has not disclosed the content of the RSL or MRSL. The policy applies to operations and manufacturing processes. The company ensures its suppliers comply with the policy through training, audits, and requiring suppliers report usage of the chemicals on the RSL and MRSL. Additionally, the company sells and promotes EPEAT-certified products that are free of certain hazardous chemicals. Best Buy remains active in the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council’s Retailer Leadership Council.
Opportunities for improvement: Best Buy can make progress by disclosing the content of its RSL and MRSL, which it pledged in 2016 to release in 2017 but so far has not. Best Buy can also expand the policy to cover packaging and include quantifiable goals for reduction or elimination of chemicals of concern, strengthen oversight of the policy by senior management, and become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project and pilot it with key private label suppliers.
Summary of Best Buy’s Grade
9 out of 15 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
The policy outlines Best Buy’s commitment in key areas of its business: its operations; its own branded products; its vendor partners; and recyclers. It states, “Within our corporate, retail, service and distribution operations, Best Buy actively looks for opportunities to reduce the use of chemicals. Whenever possible, we work to transition to safer alternatives…” Best Buy also sets requirements on the use of chemicals in the manufacturing process and holds its recyclers “to the highest industry standards to ensure … that chemical risks are managed properly.”
Best Buy has a detailed RSL that “specifies chemicals restricted based upon regulations or known hazards,” i.e. the list reflects restrictions beyond those already in regulations. It functions as a BRSL, applying to chemicals in Best Buy’s private-label and direct import products, and as a Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL), since it also covers chemicals used in factories (in the manufacturing process). Best Buy has not disclosed its list of restricted substances.
The policy doesn’t appear to apply to packaging and does not indicate quantifiable goals for reducing and eliminating chemicals of high concern.
7.5 out of 10 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
It is not clear whether Best Buy ensures board level engagement in its chemical policy, although the policy is posted on Best Buy’s corporate website in the “Our Practices” part of the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability webpage.
7.5 out of 10 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
The company “provides trainings to help factories improve their chemical management processes, including understanding of risks and the importance of taking proper precautions.”
“Each of our product specification documents include chemical requirements, and increasingly rigorous assurances and testing of products are required based on the level of risk.”
5 out of 10 points
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
12 out of 15 points
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
2 out of 10 points
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
The company also states “Best Buy is recommending that its suppliers that they use the standard IECQ QC 080000 to ensure they are managing chemicals. QC080000 is a quality management standard, based off of ISO 9001, that helps manufacturers of electrical and electronic products and components systematically manage chemicals” however it is unclear how that provides guidance to suppliers in evaluating alternatives.
5 out of 15 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
Best Buy released its safer chemicals policy on August 9, 2017, but has not publicized the content of its Beyond Restricted Substances List (BRSL) (or Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL)). In 2016, Best Buy pledged to release its RSLs in 2017 but has so far failed to follow through on this commitment.
The company states, “Being in electronics, Best Buy is focuses on OSHA Safety Data Sheet requirements, CA ROHS reporting, Prop 65 and other compliance purposes.”
Best Buy does not appear to encourage or require the disclosure of ingredients in products sold online or on product packaging or publicly disclose the identity of articles or formulated products that are free of chemicals of high concern going beyond regulatory compliance.
0 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
3 out of 7.5 points
Third-party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
0 out of 5 points
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
10 out of 15 points
Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
5 out of 5 points
Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
5 out of 5 points
Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
0 out of 5 points
Impact Investment: Investing financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives and/or green chemistry solutions