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BED BATH & BEYOND ENCOURAGED TO REPLACE TOXIC CHEMICALS IN CONSUMER PRODUCTS
July 10, 2007
Strong Support for Shareholder Resolution at Bed Bath & Beyond Encourages Company to Replace Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products
A shareholder resolution at today's annual meeting of Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ: BBBY) encouraging the company to evaluate measures to reduce and eliminate potentially toxic chemicals in the products it sells received 22% of shareholder support.
The resolution at Bed Bath & Beyond, filed by corporate responsibility group As You Sow, asks Bed Bath & Beyond to publish a report to shareholders on its policies on product safety. Specifically, it asks the company to summarize which product lines or categories sold in Bed Bath & Beyond stores may be affected by public health concerns over toxic materials and to describe how the company is responding to this policy and marketplace challenge.
Numerous products sold in Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as in the company's Harmon beauty products division contain materials which raise concerns regarding potential health or environmental impacts. Examples of the materials of concern include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA — sometimes referred to as "the Teflon chemical"), phthalates, and bisphenol A — chemicals known to cause or have been associated with cancer, developmental harm to children, and other health impacts.
Shareholders are concerned over the potential financial, legal and reputational risks associated with the emerging issues of toxic materials in products sold in Bed Bath & Beyond stores.
Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the nation's largest proxy advisory service, recently recommended in favor of the proposal, citing potential regulatory requirements and consumer concerns that may force action by retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond. Other major institutional supporters included CalPERS the world's largest pension fund, and the Connecticut State Treasurer.
The proponents of the Bed Bath & Beyond resolution noted in a recent letter to shareholders filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Wal- Mart, in some regards a major competitor of Bed Bath & Beyond, has already stepped ahead on some of these issues, committing for instance to support a voluntary industry standard to eliminate PVC from all products intended for use by children.
Michael Passoff, Associate Director for As You Sow, commented, "Bed Bath & Beyond is clearly an industry laggard on this issue. Major retailers all around the world including Wal-Mart, Ikea, Nike and Sony have made commitments to phase out PVC in products or packaging." As You Sow is a non-profit group committed to promoting corporate social responsibility through shareholder engagement.
The resolution at Bed Bath & Beyond is one of thirteen resolutions addressing toxic chemicals in products introduced this proxy season, according to The Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN). IEHN is a collaborative partnership of investment managers, advised by nongovernmental organizations, concerned about the market and health risks associated with corporate policies and practices regarding the use of toxic chemicals in products. IEHN participants manage more than $22 billion in assets.
In April 2007, IEHN published "Fiduciary Guide to Toxic Chemical Risk", which provides investors with a toolkit for examining the potential toxic liabilities in their portfolios. According to Richard Liroff, IEHN's Executive Director, "Investors have successfully resolved these issues at many companies this year, as reflected in their withdrawal of resolutions filed at Sears Holdings, CVS, Mohawk Industries, and Apple."
For further information, visit the IEHN website at www.iehn.org, and view the 20 minute IEHN video, "Toxic Chemicals in Products: Financial Risks and Opportunities."
For more information on As You Sow please visit their Web site.
Michael Passoff, As You Sow, (646) 510-2151
Richard Liroff, Investor Environmental Health Network, (703) 243-0085