If Our Government Won’t Regulate Toxic Chemicals, It Is Up to Consumer Behavior and Retailers to Drive Change

New Report Reveals Top Retailers Making Major Chemical Safety Advances

A new report released this week by Oregon Environmental Council’s partner Safer Chemicals Healthy Families reveals that many of our nation’s top retailers are voluntarily embracing safer chemical policies to help protect consumers from hazardous chemicals in products. 

The fourth annual Who’s Minding the Store? A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals evaluated and graded the chemical policies and practices of 43 retail chains ranging from Starbucks to Lowes, with more than 190,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, as part of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign. The report found dramatic improvement in the chemical policies of top retailers between 2016 to 2019. 

The good news stops there. This summer OEC found that some vinyl gloves from McDonald’s tested positive for phthalates. It should come as no surprise then, that McDonalds was given a grade of F in its ranking on toxic chemicals. The Food Giant ranked 33 out of 43 retailers evaluated this year, and is still failing to take action to address indirect food additives from things like vinyl gloves.

The Pacific Northwest’s Starbucks Company has also received a grade of F failing to address toxic indirect food additives, including PFAS, phthalates, and bisphenols.

Is this the best we can do? It’s time for big retailers to step up and lead on this issue by requiring safer chemicals and safer products to protect the health of our families, communities, workers, and environment. 

The Mind the Store Campaign calls for retailers to:

  • Publish a written safer chemicals policy, with senior management-level engagement;
  • Set clear public goals with timelines and quantifiable metrics to measure success;
  • Embrace “radical transparency” to meet rising consumer demand for public disclosure; and
  • Adopt alternatives to the use of hazardous materials;

How do we make that happen? We demand these retailers make progress on chemical safety or take our consumer dollars elsewhere. 

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