April 17, 2014: Following pressure from shareholders, Bed Bath & Beyond has taken steps to reduce chemicals of concern in the products sold on its shelves. The shareholder proposal filed by the Green Century Equity Fund, the Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge, and CHE Trinity Health was withdrawn after the company published a Restricted Substance List (RSL) that encourages its suppliers to reduce or eliminate the use of certain chemicals of concern.¹
“Consumers shouldn’t have to worry about exposure to toxic chemicals when they go to bed at night,” said Lucia von Reusner, of Green Century Capital Management. “We hope Bed Bath & Beyond’s decision to disclose a Restricted Substance List is the start of a new trend to make sure that customers can sleep easy knowing that their chemical toxicity concerns are being addressed.”
The proposal was prompted by growing public concern about the presence of toxic and cancer-causing flame retardants in household furniture, particularly baby products. A recent report by the Center for Environmental Health found harmful levels of flame retardants present in children’s furniture purchased from Bed Bath & Beyond and several other major retailers.²
“Toxic ingredients have no place in everyday products. We applaud Bed Bath & Beyond for taking clear steps to manage and reduce the chemical-related risks in its supply chain and encourage other retailers to follow suit,” said Larisa Ruoff of the Sustainability Group, the lead filer of the proposal. “These actions will have a positive impact on customers, the planet, as well as the company’s bottom line,” she continued.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s policy extends beyond just those chemical ingredients intentionally added to its products, to also cover those used in the manufacturing process—a move that can improve worker safety and reduce chemical use more broadly. In addition, Bed Bath & Beyond updated its Corporate Social Responsibility report to provide increased transparency around the company’s policies and practices to address chemical risks in its supply chain.
“Consumer preferences often shift faster than regulations; therefore, we are pleased to see that the company includes substances where there may be harm to human health beyond those covered by existing legislation,” said Richard Liroff of the Investor Environmental Health Network, which assists shareholders engaging on toxics-related issues. “Regulations are a lagging indicator so proactive companies will be rewarded in the marketplace,” he continued.
“We commend Bed Bath & Beyond for these actions and will continue to work with the company as it implements these policies,” said Cathy Rowan, of CHE Trinity Health, a co-filer of the proposal.
Bed Bath & Beyond’s commitment follows similar announcements by Walmart* and Target* to encourage suppliers to reduce the presence of toxic chemicals in products sold through their stores.
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Green Century Capital Management is an environmentally responsible investment advisory firm that manages two fossil fuel free mutual funds. Founded by a partnership of non-profit environmental advocacy organizations in 1991, Green Century provides people who care about a clean, healthy planet the opportunity to keep their money out of environmentally irresponsible companies and use the leverage of their investment dollars to encourage environmentally responsible corporate behavior. Visit Green Century or greencentury.com
As of March 31, 2014, Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. comprised 0.24% and 0.00% of the Green Century Equity Fund and the Green Century Balanced Fund, respectively. Other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios as of March 31, 2014. The holdings of the Green Century Funds may change due to ongoing management of the Funds. References to specific investments should not be construed as a recommendation of a security by the Funds, their advisor, administrator, or distributor.
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