Aldi US earned a B-, scoring 63 points out of 135 and tying for 9th place among the 40 retailers evaluated. Aldi US has not adopted a comprehensive chemicals policy that encompasses all the products it sells, including food, food packaging, and food contact materials. Therefore, Aldi has no public written safer chemicals policy on PFAS, BPA, or ortho-phthalates in the food supply chain. However, the company has made significant progress in addressing chemicals in garments, household textiles, and footwear. The company made a commitment to achieve the goals of the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to reduce negative impacts on the environment and health caused by chemicals used in the textile and footwear industries. Aldi US has an M-RSL/RSL that applies to apparel, household textiles, and foodwear, and set quantifiable goals for reducing eleven groups of chemicals of concern in these product categories. Aldi conducts trainings for suppliers and requires OEKO-TEX certification for textiles, which involves testing by third-party approved laboratories.
Opportunities for Improvement: Aldi US can make progress by developing a comprehensive public written safer chemicals policy that addresses all products that it sells, including food, food packaging, and food contact materials, and giving priority to store brands. Building on its policies for textiles, the comprehensive policy should include setting public quantifiable goals with clear timelines for reducing and eliminating chemicals of high concern in all products, 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. The company should become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project.
Summary of Aldi’s Grade
15 out of 17.5 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
However, Aldi US has established a written safer chemicals policy in the form of a commitment to the goals of the Greenpeace Detox Campaign to reduce negative impacts on the environment and health caused by chemicals used in the textile and footwear industries. According to its second progress report on its 2015 Detox Commitment, Aldi US has set a goal “to successively eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals during the production of garments, household textiles, and footwear, and to replace these substances with safer alternatives wherever possible.” The commitment states that it is a priority of Aldi to eliminate the use of “11 priority hazardous chemical groups” by 2020: APEOs, PFCs, heavy metals, phthalates, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, azo dyes, organotin compounds, chlorobenzenes, chlorinated solvents, chlorophenols, and short chain chlorinated paraffins “across its global supply chain and its operations” for all apparel and footwear private-label products (including all home textiles).
In its 2015 commitment, the company additionally established deadlines of December 2016 for phasing out PFCs and APEOs in any apparel or footwear products sold or ordered by Aldi. In its 2017 progress report, the company reported setting deadlines in 2019 for having “no violation of … threshold values applicable to wastewater and sludge” for PFCs, APEOs, azo dyes, organotin compounds, chlorophenole, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, and chlorobenzene. Aldi also provides a detailed MRSL/RSL that lists individual chemicals corresponding to the broader classes of restricted chemicals.
The policy does not appear to apply to packaging, though the 2017 Progress Report states in the section on “Promoting sustainable consumption – outlook” that: “By 2020, we will review and optimise our entire range of textile products with regard to the use of packaging.”
2.5 out of 7.5 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
The 2017 Corporate Responsibility Report states that “up to top management level, representatives of the CR departments participate in all important international committees of the ALDI SOUTH Group. Consequently, CR-related aspects are considered within the scope of decision-making processes at top level.” However, it is not clear whether the board is engaged specifically in implementing the Detox Commitment.
Aldi US does not appear to offer financial incentives for senior management to implement safer chemical policies.
7.5 out of 10 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
Aldi suppliers in the detox program must provide evidence of a chemical management process to include one of the following: 1. ZDHC Declaration of MRSL Conformity; 2. Certificate issued by an accredited testing institute or ZDHC-approved certificate issuer; or 3. Chemicals are Bluesign approved.
Aldi provides training for suppliers on chemicals management, such as for APEOs or on general wastewater management, in order to promote the implementation of its chemical elimination strategy. The company partners with amfori BEPI to collaborate throughout supply chains; the amfori BEPI platform also gives suppliers access to trainings by Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals, which convey information on Detox-related activities.
Aldi uses Chemical Management Audits to verify compliance with the minimum standards defined for the storage and use of chemicals for facilities in the detox program. Aldi conducted pilot Chemical Management Audits (CMAs) in 2016 to assess production facility compliance with restrictions on chemicals of high concern.
0 out of 10 points
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
Aldi US requires OEKO-TEX certification for all of its textile products. In this process, chemicals of concern in apparel, footwear and household textiles are reported from the approved laboratory back to the supplier. Through this process, the presence of Aldi’s eleven chemicals of concern, as well as formaldehyde, pesticides, PAHs and other chemical of concern are disclosed to the supplier, but it does not appear that Aldi has a requirement that suppliers report chemicals of concern to them.
15 out of 15 points
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
1 out of 10 points
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
7.5 out of 15 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
Aldi does not appear to encourage or require the disclosure of ingredients in products 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
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
0 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