Costco Says It's Stepping Up Scrutiny of Chemicals in ProductsBy
‘Smart Screening’ program tests several categories of goods
New program follows similar efforts at Wal-Mart, Target, CVS
Costco Wholesale Corp. will intensify scrutiny of its products for chemicals of “regulatory and social concern.”
The warehouse club retail chain has introduced a screening program to test goods from personal care and cleaning products to clothing, the company announced on its website, without specifying which substances it will monitor. Costco said it already vets for chemicals such as formaldehyde and BPA that are regulated in markets where it operates.
Costco joins Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and CVS Health Corp. in asking suppliers to disclose the chemicals’ presence and in some cases remove them. It says it maintains a list of restricted substances for each product category and is planning a university partnership to further its efforts to sell healthier products.
The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The Issaquah, Washington-based retailer, known for its premium house brand and McMansion-sized packages, scored poorly on a 2016 ranking of 11 chains’ policies on harmful chemicals. Wal-Mart and Target topped the list, while Costco, with a grade of F, sat just above Amazon.com Inc.
Mike Schade, who co-wrote the report for the advocacy group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, called the new program “a notable step in the right direction.” However, he added “it’s hard for us to judge how robust this is,” because Costco hasn’t listed which chemicals it’s looking for.
His group would also like to see the company develop a more detailed plan that lists specific substances to be removed under a defined time frame, he said. More than 35,000 consumers signed a petition -- delivered at its last shareholder meeting -- asking Costco to remove toxic chemicals and develop this kind of policy, Schade said.