This week, a new investigative report by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a children’s health advocacy group, revealed that there is still more work to do in eliminating contaminants of concern, including lead, arsenic, and cadmium, from infant and toddler food. As noted in the report, at least one of these toxic heavy metals was detected in 95 percent of the 168 baby food samples tested. The good news: earlier this year, leaders in the sector supported by academic, government, and NGO partners and advisors started working together on the issue via the pre-competitive Baby Food Council.
There’s no doubt that consumers are looking for safer, cleaner and more environmentally-friendly products. However, demonstrating leadership among the competition can be tricky, particularly because terms like “clean” are unregulated and lack a standard definition. One way to lead on consumer trust and gain a competitive advantage? Champion meaningful transparency – this means sharing greater ingredient information as well as how these ingredients and products are assessed. Credo Beauty, the largest clean beauty retailer in the country, is doing just that – last week they launched their leading-edge Fragrance Transparency Policy.
Buying more sustainable products is now the expectation of U.S. consumers. Market research firm Nielsen projects that the sustainability market will hit $150 billion in sales by 2021. For perspective, that’s larger than the entire video game industry. And demand for sustainable products is growing four times faster than conventional products. Millennials and Generation Z are fueling this transformation.
One of the top consumer concerns about products? Ingredient safety.
We recently reported that Sephora became the first major specialty beauty retailer to release a public-facing chemicals policy. As a complement to their policy, Sephora also promotes their Clean at Sephora labeling program, an avenue for showcasing brands with an embedded safer ingredient philosophy. Sephora recently updated this program: going forward, a product bearing Sephora’s Clean label must avoid a list of more than fifty ingredients (in some cases, ingredients are allowed in restricted concentrations).
With Clean at Sephora, the retailer extends its strategy to capture the growing “naturals” market segment, especially among millennial shoppers. While Clean at Sephora may receive most of the media attention, Sephora’s chemicals policy is an essential addition to the retailer’s sustainability efforts. The Clean program recognizes products pursuing leadership, but the new chemicals policy will impact all of the products sold in Sephora’s stores.
How does the policy stack up against EDF’s 5 Pillars of Leadership for Safer Products?
This is the fourth in a series evaluating the challenges in single-use food packaging waste.
Recently, we recommended a series of steps that companies can take to address EDF’s top-ten list of chemicals of concern in the food supply, including setting new packaging specifications, verifying compliance, and tracking progress. Perhaps surprisingly, one action you haven’t seen us recommend – until now – is one of the key tenets of EDF’s Five Pillars of Safer Food Leadership: supply chain transparency, in this case into chemical additives to both raw material and final paper and plastic packaging.
Sephora has released a public-facing chemicals policy, becoming the first major specialty beauty and cosmetics retailer to do so. The policy “seeks to strengthen ingredient safety and transparency” and applies to all formulated beauty and personal care products that are sold online and in stores, including both private label and third-partner brands. The policy is global in scope.
This is the third in a series evaluating the challenges in single-use food packaging waste. We looked at how company commitments fit into the circular economy debate, made a list of food packaging chemicals, and designed step-by-step guidance with a new interactive tool for companies to act on ingredient safety.
Packaging, especially single-use plastic, has been in the news a lot lately. Images of a straw in a turtle’s nose. Stalled community recycling programs following China’s decision to severely limit what waste materials they’ll accept. Hundreds of companies committing to change their plastic packaging practices. And let’s not forget about chemicals associated with packaging. In our previous blog, we noted that tight virgin-material standards can prevent problematic contamination in post-consumer recycled materials. We also shared a list of ten toxic chemicals and chemical classes including PFAS, phthalates, and perchlorate that can migrate into food from food packaging and food handling equipment.
Environmentally-conscious shoppers are expected to spend up to $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021, an increase of almost 15% since 2018. Skepticism about conventional products is, in part, fueling this market growth.
The key to engaging eco-conscious shoppers is to make cleaner, more sustainable products easier to find in stores and online. For example, this spring Target launched a “Clean” icon to identify products free from dozens of “unwanted chemicals.” Target’s entire suite of “Wellness Icons”, which include labels like “paraben free” and “dye free”, now span eight product categories. Meanwhile Sephora allows shoppers to easily filter for “Clean at Sephora” products online, find them in store, and to understand what the label means.
This is the second in a series evaluating the challenges in single-use food packaging waste.
In the late 1980s, the Council of Northeast Governors (CONEG) was concerned that heavy metals in packaging would accumulate in recycled materials to levels that presented serious health concerns. The organization drafted model legislation that prohibited the intentional addition of mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium to any component of packaging, including inks. It also set a 100 parts-per-million limit on the total amount of these four heavy metals. To ensure compliance, companies making packaging materials had to provide certificates of compliance to downstream purchasers and report compliance to the states.
This is the first blog in a series evaluating the challenges associated with single-use food packaging waste. We made a list of food packaging chemicals, provided advice for companies to “start clean” on food packaging, designed step-by-step guidance with a new interactive tool for companies to act on ingredient safety.
This week Walmart joined a growing number of companies that are trying to advance the circular economy for packaging. Like previous commitments from Nestle, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, Walmart is stepping up its efforts to use more recyclable packaging, incorporate more recycled content, and accelerate development of collection and recycling infrastructures. EDF has a long history fighting for greater and smarter plastics recycling, so we are pleased to see more companies working to eliminate plastic packaging waste from our environment. However, something is often missing from their statements: commitments for safer packaging free of toxic chemicals.