While Target was recently called out for selling fidget spinners with a high amount of lead, the retailer was lauded by another advocacy group today for being among the leaders among major retailers in improving their chemical policies in the last year.
Best Buy also got a better score this year for steps it’s taken to bolster its own such policies in the second-annual report card by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.
The report was released to highlight major retailers' progress – or lack thereof – in reducing potentially harmful chemicals used in the products they sell or during the manufacturing process as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.
“We are thrilled that major retailers like Walmart, CVS Health, and Target are driving a race to the top to eliminate dangerous chemicals that threaten our families’ health,” Mike Schade, the report’s coauthor and director of the group’s Mind the Store campaign, said in a statement. “At the same time, far too many are lagging behind, failing to meet the rising consumer demand for healthy products. This holiday season, retailers should give us the gift of a toxic-free future.”
Retailers who landed at the bottom of the list with an “F” rating include Toys R Us, Dollar General, Kohl's, TJX (owner of TJ Maxx and Marshalls) and Trader Joe’s. Amazon was given a D.
Target ranked 6th on the list of 30 retailers and earned a B+ from the group, an improvement from the B it received last year. The group noted that the Minneapolis-based retailer has made “significant progress” in the last year by announcing a new safer chemicals policy with ambitious goals to increase the transparency of chemicals in products and to reduce or eliminate certain chemicals from various product categories within certain timeframes.
The report also noted areas Target could improve such as expanding the list of chemicals and various product categories covered by its policy.
While Target has overall been stepping up its game, another advocacy group, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), put out an alert last week that Target was selling some fidget spinners from a company, Bulls i Toy, with levels of lead that would be over the federal legal limit if the products were classified as children’s products.
Target noted that the products were within the legal limits since fidget spinners are classified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as being for general use and not specific to children.
But given the concerns raised, Target began removing those fidget spinners in question from its shelves late last week and said it would work with its vendors to make sure all of the fidget spinners it carries meet the CPSC’s guidelines for children’s products.
A spokesman for U.S. PIRG said it tested 12 fidget spinners from various stores and the ones from Target were the only ones that had high levels of lead. But he acknowledged it wasn't an exhaustive list since there are hundreds of different fidget spinner models on the market.
Meanwhile, Richfield-based Best Buy, ranked 7th on the Safer Chemicals’ list of retailers, scoring a B, a big improvement from the C- it received the year before. The group noted that Best Buy put out a new chemical management statement this year that said it will reduce or phase out chemicals of concern and improve its chemicals management.
Still, the report notes Best Buy can do better by disclosing what is on its restricted substances lists and expand its policy to cover packaging.
The average grade on the list was D+.
Those at the top were Apple (A), Walmart (A-), and CVS Health (B+), Ikea (B+), Whole Foods (B+), Target (B+), and Best Buy (B).