CVS Health attained a grade of B+ based on a score of 82.5 out of 135 possible points, the sixth highest score of any of the 40 retailers evaluated. CVS Health developed a Cosmetic Safety Policy and, in 2016, disclosed that it developed a list of Chemicals of Consumer Concern (CCCs). The company made notable progress over the past year, disclosing that it had already reformulated 300 out of 600 products for chemicals of concern. In 2017, CVS Health jointly announced with the Mind the Store campaign that it had removed parabens, phthalates, and the most prevalent formaldehyde releasers across nearly 600 beauty and personal care products from its store brands CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty, and Blade. The company also publicly released its Restricted Substance List (RSL) for the first time in 2017 and pledged to update it on an annual basis every May but has not followed through on publicly updating it in 2018. The company states: “[We] actively identify and prioritize the replacement of CCCs with safer alternatives in certain CVS Brand categories, including beauty, baby and personal care, and food products. As new, conclusive research is published on how certain chemical ingredients are linked to health and environmental risks, and safer alternatives are made available, we apply our Cosmetic Safety Policy. This policy outlines our commitments to customer safety, scientific research, supplier collaboration and continuous improvement as well as the evaluation and replacement of CCCs in CVS Brand products.” In 2016, CVS Health became the first major pharmacy chain in the country to become a signatory of the Chemical Footprint Project.
Opportunities for improvement: CVS Health can continue to improve its safer chemicals program by setting public quantifiable goals with clear timelines for reducing and eliminating chemicals of high concern, engaging brand-name suppliers in the implementation of its policy, expanding its policy to additional chemically intensive product categories, certifying private-label cleaning products to credible third-party standards, such as EPA Safer Choice, Made Safe or Green Seal, and removing bisphenols from thermal receipt paper. CVS Health should pilot the Chemical Footprint Project with key private label suppliers.
Summary of CVS Health’s Grade
7.5 out of 17.5 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
In April 2017, CVS set public quantifiable goals to reformulate nearly 600 private-label products for key chemicals of high concern from its CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty, and Blade product lines and stated the company, “will stop shipping store brand products that don’t meet these standards to distribution centers by the end of 2019.” In 2017, the company also noted that it plans to “develop and launch [a] sustainable product policy.”
The company has also eliminated BPA in all private-label packaging, such as for infant formula. The company has recently joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and is planning to engage its suppliers around packaging through the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Project (BPC) survey for packaging. However, the company’s chemicals policy does not explicitly apply to packaging.
The company’s Cosmetics Safety Policy does not appear to apply to other products or operations, and the company does not have a publicly available Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL).
7.5 out of 7.5 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
5 out of 10 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
The company utilizes the WERCS to track chemicals on its RSL in order to flag when a chemical from the list is in the formulation of a product.
In the company’s 2016 sustainability report, it states it has “made advancements in ingredient and labeling transparency and verification.” CVS Health stated: “In 2016, we increased the rigor of our label claim substantiation process to give consumers more confidence in product label information. We completed additional due diligence on certifications that appear on labels to ensure reliability. We also began a process of partnering with our suppliers to validate the label claims on all of our store brand products in every category—more than 4,000 products. For example, suppliers who make claims based on studies must provide us with validation of the studies’ methodology and results; this is a more robust review than required under industry standards. This label claim substantiation process is in addition to the required registration and monitoring of product ingredients through WERCSmart, our supply chain compliance tool, as well as our ongoing product testing regime.” For example, if a supplier says a product is “Free of Parabens,” that claim requires substantiation.
CVS Health has otherwise not reported on programs to conduct testing to ensure supplier conformance with CVS Health’s Cosmetic Safety Policy.
6 out of 10 points
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
Additionally, the company states: “All of the suppliers impacted by our restriction of parabens, phthalates and the most prevalent formaldehyde donors need to provide full transparency on ingredients. This includes requiring their suppliers to certify that these ingredients are not included in any proprietary fragrance.”
15 out of 15 points
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
In its most recent sustainability report, the company stated: “We are working with the suppliers to reformulate products as needed to ensure that product benefits and quality are maintained throughout the transition. To date, more than 300 products have been reformulated to meet our standards.”
6 out of 10 points
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
CVS also notes: “We have recently initiated a program to screen for restricted chemicals via the WERCS, we are the first retailer to implement this. This allows us to screen both publicly disclosed ingredients and any proprietary blends, which are not disclosed to the public, but are put into WERCS.”
9 out of 15 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
CVS has disclosed that its Promise Organic line of products does not contain parabens, phthalates, or the most prevalent formaldehyde donors. The packages of the company’s Beauty 360 Makeup Remover Wipes and Earth Essentials by Total Home Dish Soap also disclose that ingredients of concern have been eliminated. The company does not appear to further encourage or require the disclosure of ingredients in products online or on product packaging.
1.5 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
0 out of 7.5 points
Third-party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
5 out of 5 points
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
10 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
The company has also shared: “We have engaged our partner, BSR to help us develop and implement a practical and impact-oriented approach to sustainable procurement through the adoption of policies that serve both sustainable products and sustainable procurement, and tools to operationalize the policies as part of our existing vendor management process. We expect this project to be complete by the end of 2018.” The company goes on to say: “Our product sustainability policies will include KPIs for each of the categories of products we carry as well as non-merchandise items like uniforms, office desks, facility cleaning products, etc. For the categories where ingredients are pertinent, that will be one of the KPIs we look at and we’re in the process of determining how we will enforce (i.e. through our RSL, through BPC for those categories, through authoritative lists, etc).”
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