Aldi earned a letter grade of C+, which is lower than the B- it earned last year and reflects a lack of significant forward momentum in 2019. The company scored 62.75 out of 146.5 possible points and ranked 12th out of the 43 retailers evaluated this year.
Aldi US has not adopted a comprehensive chemicals policy that encompasses all the products it sells, including any toxic additives in food contact materials. However, the company has made significant progress in addressing chemicals in apparel, household textiles, and footwear. The company committed to achieving 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 a Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) and Restricted Substance List (RSL) (functioning as a beyond restricted substance list (BRSL)) that apply to apparel, household textiles, and footwear, and are incorporated into all supplier contracts. It is making steady progress in achieving its quantifiable goals for reducing eleven groups of chemicals of high concern (CHCs) in these product categories. Aldi conducts trainings for suppliers and requires OEKO-TEX certification for textiles, which involves testing by third-party approved laboratories. The company also has a limited safer chemicals policy applying to non-food products sold under its private-label Little Journey brand, and Little Journey food pouches are BPA-free.
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 any toxic food additives that may be in 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 CHCs in all products. In particular, we urge the company to eliminate and safely replace toxic indirect food additives in food contact materials, with special attention paid to any bisphenols (beyond BPA) and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that may be in its food packaging and other food contact materials as well as any phthalates that may be in its 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
13.5 out of 17.5 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
Aldi has a limited chemical policy for its private-brand Little Journey non-food baby products, including diapers, training pants, baby wipes and baby wash, that restricts formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and triclosan ingredients and requires disclosure of all ingredients on the label. Little Journey food pouches are BPA-free. Aldi US has also phased out BPA from receipt paper. We are awarding half a point in each of the operations and packaging components to recognize these intiatives and the application of the Detox program to Aldi uniforms.
The Little Journey policy does not apply more broadly to Aldi’s operations or packaging and the Detox Commitment policy does not currently apply more broadly to operations or to packaging, but the company’s 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 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.”
Aldi US does not appear to offer financial incentives for senior management to implement its safer chemicals policies.
7.5 out of 12.5 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
Its 2017 progress report notes that the MRSL and BRSL forms “part of all relevant contracts concluded with our business partners.”
Aldi US provides training for suppliers on chemicals management, such as for APEOs or on general wastewater management, 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 has not disclosed that it conducts its own testing to ensure suppliers comply with its safer chemicals policy.
0 out of 13 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 chemicals of concern are disclosed to the supplier, but it does not appear that Aldi has a requirement that suppliers report chemicals of concern to the retailer.
15 out of 16 points
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern (CHCs) within the last three years
3.25 out of 13.5 points
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
Aldi US received partial credit for its requirement that non-food store brand Simply Nature products must avoid ingredients that are unacceptable under EPA’s Safer Choice program.
9 out of 18 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
Aldi US notes what chemicals are not in its Little Journey brand of non-baby food products, and the company links to the product webpages on the page where it makes this disclosure. Aldi is also in the process of labeling BPA-free packaging. Currently, the company notes “Shoppers who want to avoid BPA can confidently shop our SimplyNature [sic] and Little Journey brands.”
0 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
4.5 out of 8.5 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
0 out of 15 points
Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
The company, however, has not disclosed significant improvements over the past year going beyond regulatory compliance.
2.5 out of 5 points
Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
Aldi US also features baby products under the Little Journey brand with this claim: “You can count on the fact that all of our Little Journey non-food products-including diapers, training pants, wipes and wash are free from formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and triclosan, while still costing up to 50% less every day.” They also advertise BPA-free packaging for baby pouches.
Aldi states that it will begin labeling BPA-free products and now states that “shoppers who want to avoid BPA can confidently shop our SimplyNature [sic] and Little Journey brands,” but it is not clear whether Aldi has chosen a safer substitute to replace BPA in these products.
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