Company’s efforts to move away from harmful chemicals must improve, say advocates at annual shareholder meeting
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Bellevue, WA – Today, investors and consumers will ask Costco at its annual shareholder meeting to improve its efforts to tackle toxic chemicals. The group will deliver over 35,000 signed petitions from Costco members and consumers across the country who are concerned about the company’s lack of a comprehensive safer chemicals policy. Both investors and consumers want the Issaquah-based company to develop a robust safer chemicals policy and to provide specific details on the company’s recently announced initiative to address toxic chemicals in its products.
Costco recently received an “F” in a ranking of big retailers’ efforts to address toxic chemicals in consumer products. The report, “Who’s Minding the Store? – A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals,” assigned grades based on publicly available information about retailer chemical policies and self-reported information concerning retailer practices. Costco competitors Walmart (and Sam’s Club) and Target received the highest grades with “B’s”.
After publication of the report card, Costco for the first time publicly disclosed that the company has developed a Costco Restricted Chemical List and “Chemical Screening Program”. However, the company has offered few details on the chemicals or products it addresses. In contrast, yesterday Target announced a new chemical policy and specific goals to remove chemicals, including phthalates, perfluorinated chemicals, and toxic flame retardants, from products.
Karen Bowman, a concerned nurse will attend the company’s annual meeting on behalf of Harrington Investments to ask Costco management to improve its practices. Bowman said “Costco is a company with a reputation for great prices and customer loyalty. It’s enjoyed huge growth over the last decade. That’s why it is disappointing Costco is failing to meet the rising consumer demand for safer products and lagging behind Walmart and other competitors.”
Bowman continued, “As a nurse, I know the price we pay in health care costs for diseases linked to toxic chemicals like toxic flame retardants, phthalates, and bisphenol A. Costco has enormous purchasing power to give consumers lower prices. It should also use this power to give consumers protection from toxic chemicals in furniture, apparel, and other products. It’s our hope that Costco will develop a safer chemicals policy, publicly disclose the chemicals on its restricted substances list, and set public quantifiable goals to reduce and eliminate chemicals of concern.”
John Harrington, President of Harrington Investments, said, “Companies should switch from toxic to safer chemicals just as they’re switching from fossil fuels to renewables – it’s good for business. As an industry leader, Costco should extend that leadership by setting an example through the adoption of a safer chemicals policy.”