CVS/Caremark Publishes Safe Cosmetics Policy Following Shareholder Engagement
Raises the Bar for Other Retailers
On May 6th, 2008, CVS/Caremark broke new ground as the largest US pharmacy chain committing to replace toxic chemicals in cosmetics and personal care goods with safer alternatives. CVS's action came in the wake of shareholder resolutions and dialogue with investors led by Boston Common Asset Management. CVS has now raised the safety bar not only for other major pharmaceutical retailers, but for other multi-line retailers and grocery chains selling cosmetics and personal care goods.
The policy, announced on pages 34-35 of CVS/Caremark's inaugural Corporate Social Responsibility report, commits CVS to "developing action plans to replace ingredients of concern in ... branded and private label products when safer alternatives are available and prompting similar action by [CVS'] manufacturing partners." CVS also commits to reaching out to those concerned about cosmetics and personal care product safety, stating the company is committed to "building relationships with partners who can help educate us on scientific research and developments related to ingredients of concern in cosmetic products."
CVS/Caremark notes a number of steps it's already taken, including promoting and carrying more than 15 natural beauty brands, six of which meet European Union cosmetic safety standards (bans on carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxicants) in products) and seven that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' Compact for Safe Cosmetics. (The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of the Breast Cancer Fund and other grassroots organizations; the compact has now been signed by close to 1,000 cosmetics and personal care companies, committing those companies to systematically review the chemicals in their products and move to safer alternatives.) The Campaign greeted the CVS announcement warmly, expressing interest in working with CVS and challenging other retailers "to join the race to the top in improving cosmetics safety"