Investors Command Market Leaders on Chemical Footprinting and Safety-GreenMoney

Investors Commend Market Leaders on Chemical Footprinting and Safety

Publicly traded companies with over $825B in 2019 revenue, including Ahold Delhaize, BD, Clorox, Dollar Tree, Ecolab, Hasbro, Herman Miller, HNI Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Kimberly-Clark, RB, Steris, Target and Walmart participated publicly in the 5th Annual Chemical Footprint Survey.

In February 2021, investors concerned about the financial impact of toxic chemicals used commonly in our economy commend business leaders for participating in the fifth annual Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) Survey. Companies participating in this Survey report on how they screen for a subset of chemicals known to cause harm to human health and the environment. Consumer and healthcare facing companies, like Walmart, Reckitt Benckiser Group, Hewlett Packard, Herman Miller, Becton Dickinson and Company, and Steris PLC, not only participate in the Survey but also disclose their efforts to manage chemical safety publicly for investors and customers.

“Chemicals management poses material risks to companies, and to their investors”, noted Larisa Ruoff, Director of Shareholder Advocacy, the Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge. “Shareholders should have access to clear, comparable information on how companies are managing these risks. This is why investors are asking companies to measure, reduce and disclose their chemical footprints—­just as they are doing for their carbon footprints”, concluded Ruoff.

The Chemical Footprint Project is supported by investor signatories representing AUM valued at over $2 trillion. CFP sets an actual “chemical footprint metric”, which represents a quantitative measure of a corporation’s dependency on chemicals of high concern. The most ambitious companies measure by weight over 2,200 chemicals?identified by the GreenScreen List Translator?in their products. Leading companies participating in CFP are increasing transparency on chemical safety and setting chemical footprint reduction targets. For example, Walmart committed to reducing their consumable’s chemical footprint by 10% by 2022. Clorox, another CFP responder, launched a program called “IGNITE” to reduce the chemical footprint of its cleaning products. Reckitt Benckiser Group set a goal of 100% transparency on key ingredients and, in 2019, 75% of their products met this goal.

“Investors also want retailers to manage and reduce chemicals risk,” said Susan Baker, Vice President, Trillium Asset Management, LLC.

A strong showing of nearly 45% of TJX Companies’ shareholders voted in favor of a first-year shareholder resolution filed by Trillium and First Affirmative Financial Network, asking management to report on if and how it plans to reduce its chemical footprint. Since the 2020 annual meeting, TJX announced important public commitments, including setting a few toxic chemical reduction goals and taking an active role in partnerships to better inform a larger chemical management and reduction strategy.

“While the company has room for improvement, we are very pleased TJX is engaging with shareholders and other stakeholders and is demonstrating initial positive steps to reduce toxics harmful to human health, the environment and our economy”, concluded Baker.

There is a large gap in the marketplace between those companies who disclose comprehensive chemical safety data and those who do not.  Hasbro, for example, is the only toy manufacturer to participate in the Chemical Footprint Project Survey, despite the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s recognition that hazardous chemicals in toys may impact a company’s social license to operate. Herman Miller has a “Design for the Environment” program that not only drives safer chemical use in their products and supply chains, but also sets targets for “radical” transparency for thousands of chemicals used in its products. Hewlett Packard is one of the few companies with clear definitions for safer chemicals in its management program.

“Chemical safety is an essential strategy that impacts many of the key sustainability issues that asset owners increasingly care about, including public health, social equity for Black, Latinx and other communities of color, biodiversity, and clean water and air”, said Caroline Boden, Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Mercy Investment Services. “This is why we are asking publicly traded companies to close the gap now and join market leaders in their efforts to measure, disclose and reduce their chemical footprints.”

Investor Environmental Health Network-logo

For the CFP 2020 Report, please visit:
https://iehn.org/resources/entry/cfp-2020-report

For the recording of the webinar on the CFP Report and Front-runners in Chemical Footprinting:
https://iehn.org/resources/entry/cfp-2020-report-webinar

 

The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge. For more than 30 years, the Sustainability Group has combined investment expertise with a deep commitment to universal human dignity and ecological sustainability. We create customized portfolios that reflect each client’s values and financial objectives, through Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analysis, Shareholder Advocacy and Engagement, and High Impact Investing. The Sustainability Group is a part of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge, a multi-family office committed to helping families achieve their financial goals—today and for generations to come.

Trillium Asset Management offers investment strategies and services that advance humankind towards a global sustainable economy, a just society, and a better world. For nearly 40 years, the firm has been at the forefront of ESG thought leadership and draws from decades of experience focused exclusively on responsible investing. Devoted to aligning stakeholders’ values and objectives, Trillium combines impactful investment solutions with active ownership. The firm delivers equity, fixed income, and alternative investments to institutions, intermediaries, individuals, and non-profit organizations with the goal to provide positive impact and long-term value. Trillium is a certified B Corporation.

Mercy Investment Services is the asset management program for the Sisters of Mercy and its ministries, works for systemic change in the areas of non-violence, racism, environment, concern for women, and immigration through socially responsible investing. Mercy Investment Services’ multifaceted approach includes corporate engagement, proxy voting, portfolio screening, and impact and community investments, maximizing our effect on our community, nation and world.

Trillium Asset Management, The Sustainability Group and Mercy Investment Services are members of the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN). IEHN, a project of Clean Production Action, is a membership-based, investor collaborative that promotes the use of safer chemicals to enhance shareholder value, public health, and the environment. IEHN recognizes that a company’s brand reputation, public trust, and market share are linked to the environmental and human health risks and safety of its products. Through direct corporate engagement IEHN members advance solutions and strategies to transform business practices through strategic tools and partnerships that include the Chemical Footprint Project.

The Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) is an initiative of investors, retailers, government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and health care organizations that aspire to support healthy lives, clean water and air, and sustainable consumption and production patterns through the effective management of chemicals in products and supply chains. CFP Signatories, representing over $2 trillion in assets under management and over $800 billion in purchasing power, are engaging corporations in CFP. The participants in CFP recognize chemicals as they do carbon, understanding that a global transition to a reduced chemical footprint is necessary. CFP gives Signatories an invaluable tool to discern which firms bear the highest chemical risk and which are best positioned to capture new markets with safer products. The founding organizations of CFP are Clean Production Action, the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Pure Strategies.

Clean Production Action is non-profit organization whose mission is to design and deliver strategic solutions for green chemicals, sustainable materials, and environmentally preferable products. We are a solutions organization. Our tools and collaborations simplify the complexity of toxicity by providing the resources and capacities essential for identifying and replacing hazardous chemicals with safer solutions. GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals, Chemical Footprint Project, BizNGO, and Investor Environmental Health Network are all programs of Clean Production Action.

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