Toxic chemicals and Retailers: ‘Hall of Shame’ 2021

According to the Mind the Store campaign rating report, the Toxic Hall of Shame-2021, a dozen major companies earned an “F” for failing to publicly address the growing problem of toxic chemicals that may be in the products they sell to consumers, including Starbucks, Subway and Burger King.  The rating system report* scores companies on a curve based on how well they are properly managing chemical risks in the products they sell to the public.  This year’s grades were tallied on a rubric of 13 actions, including whether the company had publicly committed to a safer chemicals policy; required suppliers to document use of chemicals; kept suppliers accountable; and had reduced or eliminated chemicals or plastics of environmental and health concern within the last three years. 

The Mind the Store campaign (now in its 5th year) examines and grades the practices of 50 retail chains with more than 200,000 stores combined in the United States and Canada on their efforts to reduce chemicals thought to harm human health. These include a numbers of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like Phthalates, PFAS chemicals (including PFOA and PFOS), bisphenol A (BPA/BPS) and pesticides.

Overview

The ‘2021 Toxic Hall of Shame’ includes:

-Starbucks

-Subway

-Publix

-Nordstrom

-Ace Hardware

-7-Eleven

-Sally Beauty

-Burger King

-Popeyes

-Tim Hortons (popular Canadian fast-food chain)

Other Bad News

-All but two of the retailers in the so-called Toxic Hall of Shame are “repeat offenders”

-Four of the companies failed to score a single point for public actions to adopt safer chemical policies. Those companies were:  99 Cents Only Stores, Publix, Metro and Sally Beauty.

Great News

-70% of the companies in the 2021 report improved their scores since they were first evaluated.

-Six retailers received high scores of “A- ” or above…Apple and Target have been consistent high performers over the years, and each received an “A+” in the 2021 report. IKEA and Walmart each earned an “A-“. And in the 2021 report card, for the first time, Sephora and Whole Foods Market were awarded “A” grades.

-12 major retailers (including Walmart and McDonald’s ) representing some 65,000 stores worldwide, have now pledged to eliminate or reduce PFAS from food packaging.

-In an unprecedented move, Target and Rite Aid announced they will now look for toxic chemicals in beauty products marketed to women of color, including skin lightening creams, hair straighteners and relaxers…

Research shows that women of color have higher levels of toxic chemicals related to beauty products in their bodies, and this is linked to higher incidences of cancer, poor infant and maternal health outcomes, learning disabilities, obesity, asthma, and other serious health concerns.” 

-Taylor Morton, director of environmental health and education at WE ACT for Environmental Justice

-Some of the greatest gains by companies evaluated by the report card were in the beauty and personal care sector:

-Ulta Beauty was named as the most improved retailer — rising from an “F” result in 2019, to a “C” grade today.

-Sephora showed the greatest improvement over time, the report card found, moving from a “D” in 2017, to an “A” today. 

♦The campaign has an Act Now button for consumers who would like to send messages to the 12 retailers in the Toxic Hall of Shame.

*The 2021 report: Who’s Minding the Store? A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals. The report is a collaboration of nonprofit partner organizations, including the environmental advocacy groups Toxic-Free Future, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Defend Our Health.


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