Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals evaluates the progress made and challenges that remain since last year’s report card and the launch of the Mind the Store campaign, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, and Getting Ready for Baby campaign. This year’s report card addresses the ongoing need for transformational change in the marketplace to promote safer chemicals in products since last year’s report card and the
In 2017, Who’s Minding the Store? evaluated the safer chemicals policies of thirty of the nation’s largest retailers: Ace Hardware, Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Amazon, Apple, Babies “R” Us, Best Buy, buybuy BABY, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, The Home Depot, Ikea, Kohl’s, Kroger, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Office Depot, Rite Aid, Sally Beauty, Sephora, Staples, Target, TJX Companies, Trader Joe’s, Ulta Beauty, Walgreens, Walmart Stores, and Whole Foods Market (and, as appropriate, their parent or subsidiary companies). These retailers were selected for evaluation because they were among the top thirty U.S. retailers by sales, or they commanded the largest market share in one of eleven major retail sectors (e.g. apparel, beauty and personal care, office supplies, etc.).
Retailers Evaluated in Who’s Minding the Store? by Key Consumer Sector
|Key Consumer Sector||Retailers Evaluated in Who’s Minding the Store?|
|Apparel||Amazon, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, TJX, Walmart|
|Baby/Children||Amazon, Babies “R” Us (Toys “R” Us), buybuy BABY (Bed Bath & Beyond), Costco, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart|
|Beauty & Personal Care||Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Amazon, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Kohl’s, Kroger, Macy’s, Rite Aid, Sally Beauty, Sephora, Target, Trader Joe’s, Ulta, Walgreens, Walmart, Whole Foods Market|
|Department Store||Kohl’s, Macy’s|
|Dollar Store||Dollar General, Dollar Tree|
|Drugstore||Amazon, Costco, CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens, Walmart|
|Electronics||Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Costco, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Office Depot, Staples, Target, Walmart|
|Furniture/Home Goods||Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Ikea, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, TJX, Walmart, Target|
|Groceries||Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Amazon, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Kroger, Rite Aid, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, Whole Foods Market|
|Home Improvement||Ace Hardware, Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe’s|
|Office Supplies||Amazon, Office Depot, Staples|
To evaluate retailers’ policies and practices, we developed and applied a scoring rubric against 14 criteria (list below) to evaluate retailers’ safer chemical 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 criteria was assigned a maximum number of possible points, ranging from 0 to 20 points, weighted based on our best professional judgment as to their importance to the goal of eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products. We created a tiered grading structure for each criterion, awarding points for partial steps retailers have taken toward the maximum allowable score under each criterion. Across the 14 criteria, there is a maximum possible score of 135 points. We used the same curved letter grading system corresponding to the total number of points that was used in 2016, resulting in final grades that could range from F to A+ (see the grading table).
After refining and updating the criteria to reflect recent developments in the field, we reviewed publicly available information reported by the retailers, including corporate social responsibility/sustainability reports, websites, news releases and blog posts, in the summer and early fall of 2017. We also reviewed official correspondence between the Mind the Store campaign, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Getting Ready for Baby campaign, and the thirty retailers selected for evaluation. After an initial evaluation of the retailers, we sent each of the thirty retailers their preliminary score, providing an opportunity to review our findings, disclose additional information, and/or make new commitments in order to correct or improve their draft score and grade. We followed up with each retailer multiple times to ensure that they had received their preliminary grade and understood the report’s deadline and process. We then held 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 that did not cleanly fit with our initial sub-criteria under each criterion.
Below is the list of the 14 criteria that describe the “best in class” actions needed to achieve the maximum number of points for each category. The full scoring rubric spreadsheet can be downloaded at the links on this page.
Key resources for Who’s Minding the Store?
Description of Actions Needed to Earn Maximum Points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
Retailer has a written safer chemicals policy that aims to avoid chemicals of high concern (CHCs) beyond regulatory compliance in products or packaging offered for sale. Within its scope, the policy also includes all 5 out of the 5 following elements:
- Sets public quantifiable goals for reducing and eliminating CHCs in the products and/or packaging it sells;
- Applies to both products AND packaging;
- Applies to its entire operations, including facilities and in-house purchasing;
- For at least one major product category, includes a Beyond Restricted Substance List for chemicals of high concern (i.e. CHCs not yet subject to government restriction); and
- For at least one major product category, includes a Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (i.e. CHCs used to manufacture products but not present in the final product).
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
The retailer engages its employees, managers and/or directors in implementing its chemical policy for product safety (beyond regulatory compliance) through all 4 of the following 4 activities:
- Assigned a member of senior management with responsibility for chemical policy;
- Includes chemical policy in job descriptions and individual performance metrics;
- Ensures board level engagement in chemical policy; and
- Established financial incentives for senior management related to chemical policies.
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
The retailer engages in 4 out of 4 practices to assess and ensure supplier conformance with retailer chemical policies:
- Audits suppliers to verify chemical data submitted;
- Trains suppliers in chemical policy and/or reporting requirements;
- Requires supplier testing in 3rd party approved laboratories and provide results to assure conformance with chemicals policy; and
- Retailer routinely tests parts, materials, or ingredients provided by suppliers to assure conformance with chemicals policy.
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 appendix).
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
The retailer publicly reports on metrics in reducing and eliminating CHCs in past three years across multiple product categories. Metrics include quantifying reductions of CHC by weight, number or percent of products containing or reducing CHC, and/or number or percent of suppliers selling or reducing products containing CHC.
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
Strong assurance that detailed alternatives evaluation guidance is being applied; commissioned or required suppliers to conduct a credible hazard assessment for alternatives to chemicals of high concern in products, packaging or operations; and has integrated retailer’s criteria for a safer alternative consistent with MTS definition into private label product development process.
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
Transparency around chemicals policy: Retailer safer chemicals policy and Beyond Restricted Substance List (BRSL) are both publicly available.
Transparency around consumer ingredient disclosure: Retailer requires all suppliers of formulated products and articles to publicly disclose all ingredients online (if applicable) and on product packaging including fragrance ingredients, generic ingredients, contaminants, impurities, byproducts, allergens and nanomaterials.
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
Retailer completes the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) survey; makes score and responses publicly available; retailer is signatory to CFP.
Third-Party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
Requires credible third party safer chemicals certification (see appendix for examples) in every relevant category of retailer private label products going beyond regulatory compliance.
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
Participated in a joint public announcement with the Mind the Store, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, or Getting Ready for Baby campaigns.
Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
Has demonstrated significant improvement on a consistent basis over the long-term in restricting chemicals of high concern.
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
Actively participates in a collaborative process to promote safer chemicals OR retains an independent expert institution (not a consulting firm) to assist in meeting the same goal (see appendix for examples) OR Created an external Advisory Board to collaborate with stakeholders to seek input into implementation of safer chemicals policy.
Impact Investment: Investing financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives and/or green chemistry solutions
Company or company foundation invests significant financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives to chemicals of high concern and/or green chemistry solutions.