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Walgreens’ double standard – toxic chemicals banned in Europe, still sold in America?

One month ago today, moms, nurses, environmental health and consumer advocates coast to coast gathered outside of over 50 Walgreens stores, from Maine to Alaska, calling on the company to phase out unnecessary toxic chemicals like phthalates from products on their store shelves.

Advocates spoke to Walgreens customers as well as store managers, returning products containing harmful ingredients. Scientists at tested 44 products from Walgreens, ranging from household cleaning products, school supplies, pet toys and other everyday consumer products, which uncovered harmful chemicals and materials like vinyl plastic and lead in private branded products.

See for yourself — we’ve put together this inspiring video to tell the story about our national Mind the Store day of action:

One month later, Walgreens has still not responded to our Mind the Store call to eliminate toxic chemicals in their supply chain.

Toxic chemicals banned in Europe, on store shelves in America?

While Walgreens has no comprehensive chemicals policy, their European counterpart does. A few years ago Walgreens bought out 45% of the European retailer, Alliance Boots. The companies are in the process of completing their merger, which is expected to be finalized by next year.

Alliance Boots has successfully eliminated key chemicals of high concern in many of their products, and has a publicly available restricted substance list detailing its hazardous chemical elimination and substitution efforts. For example, the company has taken steps to eliminate phthalates, parabens, triclosan, PVC plastic and a number of other chemicals from their products, just about all of which are on our Hazardous 100+ List. You can read about some of their efforts in this great presentation.

walgreens-polaroidHow can chemicals be banned in their European stores, but still be allowed here? What’s good for their customers in Europe, it’s good for Americans too! Talk about a double-standard.

We are encouraging Walgreens to adopt Alliance Boots’ corporate chemicals policy, which serves as a model that Walgreens can leverage with their own suppliers. Given that Walgreens and Alliance Boots are already sharing best practices and capabilities, adopting Alliance Boots’ chemicals policies would help ensure a smoother integration and alignment between the two companies’ sustainability policies and practices. We believe this is especially important as Walgreens continues to expand its line of private branded items.

Makes sense, right?

We would welcome the opportunity to publicly praise Walgreens for taking a first step by adopting Alliance Boots chemicals policies and taking an industry lead on this issue.

In the meantime, we expect that our already strong consumer support will increase in the months to come as we take our Mind the Store message to an even larger audience.

As the nation’s largest pharmacy chain with a “vision to be the first choice in health and family living”, we think Walgreens has the responsibility to sell products that are safe, not laden with hormone disrupting chemicals like phthalates. Don’t you agree?

Join us and call on Walgreens to Mind the Store!