We’ve Got Receipts! Retailers Respond to Consumer Demands for Safer Shopping

The 5th Annual: Mind the Store Report Card is now available and the news is good. The report card shows progress at major retailers who are taking steps to make products safer. Federal policies and laws have utterly failed to keep people safe from toxic chemicals and ingredients in everyday products, so campaigns that put public pressure on these corporations like Mind the Store (which OEC is a part of) are essential for protecting all of us.  It also underscores the importance of more protective policies, like OEC’s Toxic Free Kids Act, starting at the state level or private companies electing to make and sell cleaner and safer products in response to consumer pressure and campaigns like Mind the Store. 

Last month, this new study released by OEC’s partners Toxic Free Future and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families demonstrated that a whopping 70 percent of surveyed retailers showed improvement in their chemical safety programs over the last five years! 50 major retailers were surveyed, ranging from Whole Foods, Rite Aid, and Home Depot. Of the 50 retailers surveyed, 12 have pledged to eliminate or reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging — something that would impact about 65,000 stores worldwide. The top 6 retailers have demonstrated continuous improvement in phasing out chemicals of concern in their products, packaging, and supply chains:

  1. Apple aims for full material disclosure in addition to restricting substances.
  2. IKEA remains on the leading edge of phasing out chemicals of high concern.
  3. Sephora has demonstrated recent significant progress implementing its policy.
  4. Target continues to steadily expand the reach of its chemical policy.
  5. Walmart is implementing among the first and most comprehensive chemical policies.
  6. Whole Foods Market has made recent progress on chemicals in food packaging.

Sephora and Whole Foods have gone from past F grades, to A grades, and for the first time, Rite Aid and Target, have committed to screening for chemicals of high concern in beauty products marketed to women of color. And responding to consumer pressure, Wendy’s burger chain announced last week that they plan to phase out PFAS from food packaging by the end of 2021. Laggards like McDonalds and other fast food chains still refuse to phase out PFAS in their food packaging. PFAS hurts human health in numerous ways, such as disrupting their endocrine system and immune system, causing cancer, and lowered birth rates.

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These monumental steps in removing toxics from consumer products would not have been possible without consumers, such as you, demanding change. But our work is not yet done: 12 out of 50 retailers surveyed still earned a failing grade. Tell the members of the 2021 “Toxic Hall of Shame” to phase out harmful chemicals now

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