It seems like ages ago when I was nestled away in an office in DC, working alongside Andy Igrejas, where the idea for Mind the Store was hatched. The campaign, which continues to see victories by the month, was designed to get retailers to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals sold in their stores. At the time, many retailers had written policies and goals around carbon reduction, organic foods and other important causes. But reducing toxic chemical exposure wasn’t on their radar.
Fast forward seven years later, and major retailers like Target, Walmart, CVS, the Home Depot and others have taken action. This week Rite Aid, a popular drug store chain, dramatically expanded their list of “restricted substances” from both private label and national branded products. This is the latest move by retailers to shift the market away from harmful chemicals commonly found in products.
What is Rite Aid’s policy to reduce hazardous chemicals?
Back in 2016 Rite Aid vowed to phase out of the following eight toxic chemicals from their private label brands by 2020.
- dibutyl phthalate
- diethyl phthalate
- nonylphenol ethoxylates
This was a great first step, but thankfully the drugstore chain took things a significant step forward.
Here are some of the highlights of Rite Aid’s new chemical policy:
- They are publicly disclosing their “restricted substance list” (RSL) which jumped from 8 to 69.
- They are shifting from self reporting from manufacturers to using the WERCSmart system to verify compliance with new RSL.
- They are expanding the RSL to cover national brands (not just private label!). The screening will also make sure national brands are in compliance with:
- CA EPA Prop 65 – Reproductive and Developmental Toxicants, Carcinogens
- EPA Toxics Release Inventory PBTs
- EU – Cosmetics Regulation Annex II
- EU – Priority Endocrine Disruptors (Categories 1, 2)
- EU REACH – Annex XVII CMRs (Appendices 1 – 6)
- IARC – Categories 1, 2A, 2B
- Rite Aid will promote more comprehensive ingredient disclosure to consumers and will encourage suppliers to publicly disclose all ingredients online or on pack, including the constituents of fragrance and other generic ingredients.
- Rite Aid will inform customers about products that are “free of” specific chemicals of concern and will promote third-party certifications, such as US EPA Safer Choice products.
- They will report on progress publicly!
This is some major progress and will dramatically help shift the market in the right direction.
Stay tuned for some exciting news from the Mind the Store campaign this fall. They plan to release another annual Retailer Report Card, but they are significantly expanding the companies ranked (to include apparel, food companies etc)! The time is now for us to continue to demand safer, cleaner products. Never doubt for a second that your voice matters, because we’re winning.