Albertsons Companies scored 45.25 out of 135 possible points, earning a C-, the same letter grade that it achieved in 2017, and ranking 16th place among 40 retailers. In 2017, Albertsons developed a public Chemical Policy, which states the company is “committed to quality products, product safety, environmental stewardship and sound chemical management, including limiting the use of certain ingredients of consumer concern.” It also states: “We strive for greater transparency and work with our supplier community to maintain and continually improve brand-specific guidelines for our products.” The policy described some of the company’s initiatives around chemicals of concern. Since announcing the company’s chemical policy last year, it eliminated BPA from all self-manufactured beverage cans in its OWN Brands portfolio of products. The company maintains a Beyond Restricted Substance List (BRSL) for its Open Nature private-label line of products, certifies a number of private-label products to EPA Safer Choice, has set restrictions on BPA in packaging, and on parabens, phthalates, and triclosan in its private-label baby products. The company has also launched a Sustainability Council to address environmental and social issues that are important to the company and its stakeholders, including chemical management.
Opportunities for improvement: Albertsons can make progress by developing public BRSLs for a broader assortment of private-label and brand-name products in key product categories, setting public quantifiable goals with clear timelines for reducing chemicals of high concern, and completely eliminating and safely replacing BPA and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging and food contact materials as well as phthalates in food and food contact materials in its supply chain. Albertsons should become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project and pilot it with key private label suppliers.
Note — our assessment is primarily based on the policies and practices of Albertsons, the parent company.
Summary of Albertsons’ Grade
7.5 out of 17.5 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
Since Albertsons’ BRSL only applies to a limited array of private-label products and only one chemical is restricted in packaging, we awarded partial credit.
The company has not set public quantifiable goals for reducing and eliminating chemicals of high concern, the policy does not appear to apply to operations, and the company does not have a publicly available Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL).
2.5 out of 7.5 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
It is not clear if the board is engaged in the chemical policy or if there are financial incentives for senior management to implement safer chemical policies.
2.5 out of 10 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
This score represents partial credit. While the company has described efforts to train suppliers and test products, it is unclear to what extent these initiatives are to ensure supplier conformance with its chemicals policy as opposed to primarily to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.
0 out of 10 points
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
6 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 states: “We worked with private-label product suppliers to identify acceptable alternatives to packaging containing BPA….using alternatives that are currently available, we have made notable packaging and product changes.” However, the reports “Kicking the Can?” and “BPA – Buyer Beware,” published respectively in 2017 and 2016, documented regrettable substitutes, such as vinyl and styrene based resins, in Albertsons’ BPA-free cans. This demonstrates that Albertsons must develop a plan to evaluate alternatives when eliminating or reducing chemicals of high concern to avoid regrettable substitutes such as these. The company has still not disclosed how it is evaluating alternatives.
7.75 out of 15 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
The company is utilizing the SmartLabel program to share information about ingredients in products. The company states: “Our OWN Brands products will be issued a QR code which is associated with a LabelInsights landing page (URL). In the future, this will be utilized to communicate updates directly to the consumer with regard to ‘free from requirements’ as well as specifically non GMO (or now BE). Currently the Own Brands portfolio has been issued nearly 8,600 QR codes of which 52% has a corresponding SmartLabel® page. We are also part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association workgroup to determine chemical/ingredient definitions that will be utilized on the SmartLabel®webpages. More information is available at www.smartlabel.org.”
The company is also making it easier for consumers to identify canned foods that no longer contain BPA in the can lining, stating: “In a move toward greater transparency, by the end of 2018, converted cans will be identifiable by ‘BPA Free’ and ‘Non-BPA Lining’ disclosure logos.”
0 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
4.5 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
5 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
2.5 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