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, Getting Ready for Baby campaign, and Environmental Defence Canada’s campaign for toxic-free products. This year’s fourth-annual report card addresses the ongoing need for transformational change in the retail marketplace to promote safer chemicals in products, packaging, and global supply chains.
In 2019, Who’s Minding the Store? evaluated the safer chemicals policies of 43 of North America’s largest retailers: 99 Cents Only, Ace Hardware, Ahold Delhaize (Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Hannaford), Albertsons, Aldi US, Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, buybuy BABY, Canadian Tire, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, The Home Depot, Ikea, Kohl’s, Kroger, Loblaw, Lowe’s, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Metro, Nordstrom, Office Depot, Panera Bread, Publix, Restaurant Brands International (Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons), Rite Aid, Sally Beauty, Sephora, Sobeys, Staples, Starbucks, Subway, Target, TJX Companies, Trader Joe’s, Ulta Beauty, Walgreens, Walmart Stores, Whole Foods Market, and Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell).
These retailers were selected for evaluation because they were among the top 43 U.S. or Canadian retailers by sales or they commanded a major market share in one of twelve major retail sectors (see the sectors in the chart below).
New retailers evaluated in 2019: This year’s report card includes two new retailers, for 43 companies in total. The new companies are two major retail chains based in Canada: Canadian Tire and Metro. They were added to continue to strengthen the geographic scope of the report card. We plan to continue to expand the report card to additional retailers in 2020.
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, Nordstrom, Target, TJX, Walmart|
|Baby/Children||99 Cents Only, Amazon, buybuy BABY (Bed Bath & Beyond), Costco, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart|
|Beauty & Personal Care||99 Cents Only, Ahold Delhaize (Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Hannaford), Albertsons, Aldi US, Amazon, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Kohl’s, Kroger, Loblaw, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Publix, Rite Aid, Sally Beauty, Sephora, Sobeys, Target, Trader Joe’s, Ulta, Walgreens, Walmart, Whole Foods Market|
|Department Store||Kohl’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom|
|Dollar Store||99 Cents Only, Dollar General, Dollar Tree|
|Drugstore||Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Amazon, Costco, CVS Health, Kroger, Loblaw, Metro, Publix, Rite Aid, Sobeys, 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, Canadian Tire, Costco, Ikea, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, TJX, Walmart, Target|
|Groceries||99 Cents Only, Ahold Delhaize (Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Hannaford), Albertsons, Aldi US, Amazon, Costco, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Kroger, Loblaw, Metro, Publix, Rite Aid, Sobeys, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, Whole Foods Market|
|Home Improvement||Ace Hardware, Amazon, Canadian Tire, The Home Depot, Lowe’s|
|Office Supplies||Amazon, Office Depot, Staples|
|Restaurant / Fast Food||McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Restaurant Brands International (Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons), Starbucks, Subway, Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell)|
To evaluate retailers’ safer chemicals policies and practices, we developed and applied a scoring rubric of 14 criteria (listed below). The rubric was first developed in 2016. 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. As in 2017 and 2018, this year we made some key changes to improve the glossary and criteria, especially for evaluating restaurant chains. You can read a summary of improvements made to the criteria since 2018.
Each criterion was assigned a maximum number of points, ranging from 0 to 18 points, weighted based on our best professional judgment as to the criterion’s importance to the goal of eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products and packaging. 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, the maximum score is 146.5 points. In 2019, we used the same curved letter grading system, going from F to A+, that was used in 2016 and 2017 (see the grading table).
We reviewed publicly available information reported by the retailers, including in corporate social responsibility or sustainability reports, websites, news releases and blog posts, in the summer of 2019. We also reviewed official correspondence between the 43 retailers selected for evaluation and the Mind the Store campaign, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, Getting Ready for Baby campaign, and Environmental Defence Canada. After an initial evaluation of the retailers, we sent each one its preliminary scores on all 14 criteria with a standardized email, providing every company an opportunity to review our findings, disclose additional information, and/or make new public commitments to correct or improve its draft score and grade. We followed up with each retailer multiple times to ensure that staff had received the preliminary grade and understood the report’s deadline and process. If requested by a retailer’s staff, we scheduled a phone call with the retailer to review and discuss our findings. After receiving written input, we adjusted and finalized each score based on any new information that was disclosed.
*** Of course, we can only grade retailers on the policies and practices that they publicly announce or that they disclosed to the authors in response to correspondence. We make no representations about policies or practices that retailers chose to keep confidential.
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 here.
Key resources for Who’s Minding the Store?
Description of Actions Needed to Earn Maximum Points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy (See Special Note on Food Products below)
The retailer has a written safer chemicals policy that aims to avoid chemicals of high concern (CHCs) beyond regulatory compliance in products or in packaging offered for sale.
Within its scope, the policy also includes all of the six following elements
- Sets public quantifiable goals for reducing and eliminating CHCs in the products and/or packaging the company sells;
- Applies to both products AND packaging;
- Applies to its entire operations, including facilities and in-house purchasing;
- Restrictions on chemicals apply to all locations where products are sold (whether or not the company has locations outside the U.S.);
- For at least one major product category, includes a beyond restricted substance list (BRSL) 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 (MRSL) (i.e. CHCs used to manufacture products but not present in the final product).
Special note on food products: For the retail sale of food products, our evaluation is limited to chemical policies and practices regarding “indirect food additives,” which are the chemicals used in food contact materials (e.g. plastic, paper, metals, inks, adhesives, etc.) that may migrate from food packaging and other food contact articles (e.g. gloves, tubing, conveyor belts, etc.) into the food product. Indirect food additives do not include direct food additives (i.e. ingredients), pesticide residues or environmental contaminants. For example, food contact chemicals that are indirect food additives include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), bisphenols (such as BPA and BPS), and ortho-phthalates. For additional examples, see the Food Packaging Product Stewardship Considerations published by the Food Safety Alliance for Packaging. For food products sold at retail, please keep in mind that when the words “product” and “packaging” are used throughout this rubric, that “packaging” refers to food packaging and that “product” only includes a food product when the presence of a food contact chemical in the food product may result from the use of food contact materials upstream in the supply chain (e.g. during food processing) or in the retail environment (e.g. during food preparation).
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
The retailer engages its employees and managers in implementing its safer chemicals policy (beyond regulatory compliance) through both of the following practices:
- Assigned a member of senior management with responsibility for safer chemicals policy and
- Established financial incentives for senior management related to safer chemicals policies.
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
The retailer engages in all of the four following practices to assess and ensure supplier conformance with retailer safer chemicals policy or RSLs:
- Delineates requirements associated with safer chemicals policy and/or reporting in contracts with suppliers;
- Trains suppliers in safer chemicals policy and/or reporting requirements;
- Requires supplier(s) to conduct testing in third-party laboratories and provide results to assure conformance with safer chemicals policy; and
- Routinely tests parts, materials, or ingredients provided by suppliers to assure conformance with safer chemicals policy.
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
The retailer requires all private-label and brand-name suppliers to report to the retailer full chemical ingredient information for all formulated products and articles OR, for restaurant chains, to report to the retailer full chemical ingredient information for all packaging (see definition of full chemical ingredient information in glossary).
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern (CHCs) within the last three years
The retailer publicly reports on metrics in reducing and eliminating chemicals of high concern (CHCs) in the past three years (since November 2016) across multiple product or packaging categories. Metrics include quantifying (a) the reduction or elimination of CHC-containing products or packaging; (b) the products or packaging in which CHCs have been reduced or eliminated; or (c) the suppliers that are selling fewer products or packaging containing CHCs. Quantification can be by weight, number, or percent as appropriate.
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
The retailer commissioned or required suppliers to conduct a credible hazard assessment, using detailed guidance, for alternatives to chemicals of high concern (CHCs) 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 safer chemicals policy (7.5 points):
The retailer’s safer chemicals policy and beyond restricted substance list (BRSL) (and manufacturing restricted substance list (MRSL), if applicable) are all publicly available.
Transparency around consumer ingredient disclosure (10.5 points):
The retailer formally requires all suppliers of formulated products and articles to publicly disclose, online and on product packaging (as applicable), full chemical ingredient information using industry naming standards rather than generic terms (e.g. for fragrance ingredients) (see definition of full chemical ingredient information in glossary).
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
The retailer engages in all of the three following practices:
- Completes the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) survey,
- Makes CFP score and responses publicly available, and
- Is signatory to CFP.
Third-Party Standards: Promotes credible third-party standards for safer products
The retailer requires certification to credible third-party safer chemicals standards (see glossary for examples) in every relevant category of retailer private-label products or packaging going beyond regulatory compliance.
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
The retailer participated in a joint public announcement in the last two years (since November 2017) with Mind the Store, Campaign for Healthier Solutions, the Getting Ready for Baby campaign, or Environmental Defence Canada.
Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
The retailer has demonstrated significant improvement on a consistent basis over the long term in restricting chemicals of high concern (CHCs) going beyond regulatory compliance.
Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
The retailer thoroughly implemented a program to feature and market
(i) safer products on store shelves and/or website, or
(ii) safer packaging used in stores.
Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
The retailer engages in one of the following three activities:
- Actively participates in a collaborative process to promote safer chemicals (see glossary for examples),
- Retains an independent expert institution (not a consulting firm) to assist in meeting the same goal, 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
The retailer or retailer’s foundation invests significant financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives to chemicals of high concern (CHCs) and/or green chemistry solutions.