Retailer moves to wipe out 'unsafe' cosmetics

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics

Bowing to pressure from consumers and lobby groups, US-based
retailer CVS Corporation says it is planning to make a proposal to
shareholders that will end the sale of products containing
ingredients deemed to be unsafe.

The company says that it will make a proposal to its shareholders at its AGM on May 11 to take a series of steps that will see any products containing ingredients deemed to be unsafe taken off its store shelves.

The group said in statement that the proponents of the shareholder resolution - Boston Common Asset Management and Citizens Advisers - "are concerned that a range of ingredients present in cosmetics products commonly sold at CVS and most other cosmetics retailers can pose an array of health hazards to consumers."

Lauren Compere, director of shareholder advocacy at Boston Common Asset Management, the primary filer of the resolution, said, "Several years ago, CVS showed leadership in the area of human health and exposure to toxic chemicals by taking off the shelf all thermometers that contained mercury after scientific research linked even small exposure to mercury with extreme human health consequences."

"We, as shareholders are asking CVS to take this leadership role further by committing to remove other materials from products sold in its stores. We believe promoting safer cosmetics can be a good business move for CVS,"​ she added.

The shareholder resolution asks CVS to report to shareholders on the feasibility of establishing a policy to reformulate CVS brand cosmetics to be free of chemicals linked to birth defects and cancers.

The initiative will cover product ingredients that are suspected carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxins, as well as chemicals that affect the endocrine system, accumulate in the body or persist in the environment.

The group also says that it will proactively seek safe alternatives for these chemicals, publicly report on their progress; and encourage its suppliers to do the same.

CVS stores are found throughout the US, with a store network that numbers 5,400 in 37 states. It also has 13 distribution centres, as well as an on-line retail arm. It sells a variety of personal care and cosmetics products produced by all the leading international players, as well as a wide range of health care products.

"There is good reason, as shareholders as well as consumers, to be concerned about toxic chemicals in cosmetics,"​ Vesela Veleva, a social research analyst at Citizens Advisers, which has been involved in the field of social responsible retail investment since 1982.

"Under the current voluntary controls, many dangerous chemicals have been found to make their way into cosmetics and personal care products - from nail polish, to makeup, to shampoo,"​ she added.

Related topics Formulation & Science

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