Staples earned a grade of D+, scoring 37.5 out of 135 possible points and ranking 17th out of 40 retailers. Staples has not publicly released or implemented a chemical policy that was shared with us last year for planned release in 2018, although the company indicated to us that it is still working to release it at the end of the year. Staples’ low grade is especially disappointing since in the first half of this decade, Staples was an emerging leader in addressing chemicals of concern in the products that it sold. It was the first major retailer to become a signatory of the Chemical Footprint Project, actively participated in partnerships with NGOs and other companies, and earned an award from the US EPA recognizing its efforts to promote Safer Choice-certified products. Since then, while it has made some important progress in specific initiatives, such as addressing chemical flame retardants in chairs, progress at the company towards a comprehensive policy seems to have slowed or even regressed.
Opportunities for improvement: Staples should adopt a public written safer chemicals policy, enforce a restricted substances list, set public, quantifiable goals with clear timelines to reduce chemicals of high concern, and follow up to its signing on to the Chemical Footprint Project with a public release of its total chemical footprint with a detailed plan to reduce it.
Summary of Staples’ Grade
0 out of 17.5 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
Prior to the release of the 2017 report card, Staples shared with us a confidential comprehensive draft chemicals policy and indicated it would be implemented in early 2018. Based on review of that document, we had awarded Staples 6 points for policy in 2017. However, Staples informed us that implementation was delayed due to changes of staff and other internal factors, and while they still hope to release it by the end of 2018, we are not awarding points for policy this year.
2.5 out of 7.5 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
2.5 out of 10 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
5 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
2.5 out of 15 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
Staples 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. The retailer noted it will be doing more with the release of its policy and has previously requested details from suppliers on the presence of specific chemicals to fulfill customer requests, but this information was not made public.
1.5 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
3 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
0 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
5 out of 5 points
Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
2.5 out of 5 points
Impact Investment: Investing financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives and/or green chemistry solutions