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Company: Walt Disney Company
Subject: Toxic Chemicals Policy
Year: 2014
Sector: Toys
Lead Filer: Boston Common Asset Management
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments


Options for Reducing Chemical Toxicity in Disney Products

 

Whereas,

Disney is one of the world's best known and most respected brands. It takes pride in its "rich history of...good citizenship", which includes "promoting the well-being of kids and families." Disney recognizes that "doing the right thing for families is the right thing for our business."

Disney Consumer Products extends the Disney and Marvel brands to such merchandise lines as apparel, toys and home décor, among others. DCP licenses the Disney brand and oversees more than 300 Disney retail stores.

Scientific knowledge has been growing about the consequences for children's health from exposures to toxic chemicals in consumer products. This has led to increased regulation in Europe and some U.S. states, which U.S. federal regulation has lagged. Chemicals of concern have included selected phthalates and heavy metals, some of which can be present in polyvinyl chloride, and selected brominated flame retardants. Both Washington and Maine have developed lists of chemicals of high concern as part of safe children's products acts.

Testing of consumer products by environmental health activists have identified elevated levels of toxic chemicals in Disney-licensed products, including lunch boxes and children's rain coats. These have led to protests at Disney stores and on-line petitions calling for company action.

Numerous companies, singly and together, have taken voluntary action to phase out chemicals and to develop principles, tools, and protocols for broad toxicity reduction. These chemicals are named on "restricted substances lists". Nike began phasing out PVC in the 1990s. Wal-Mart told suppliers to remove brominated flame retardants from products in 2011. Multi-company groups include AFIRM, apparel and footwear companies whose "supplier toolkit" describes tools suppliers can use to reduce toxic chemicals. Staples, Hewlett-Packard and Kaiser Permanente have endorsed the Guiding Principles for Chemicals Policy created by the Business-NGO Working Group (http://www.bizngo.org/guidingPrinciples.php). These include "know and disclose product chemistry, assess and avoid hazards, and commit to continuous improvement."

Proponents believe that while Disney has announced plans to produce a Restricted Substances List in 2013, it lags other companies in more systematically addressing toxic chemical risks in its products and supply chain and such inaction poses a risk to our company's reputation.

Therefore be it resolved:

Shareholders request that the Board publish a report to shareholders on Disney's options for adopting voluntary programs and practices to implement a "safer alternatives policy" to identify, disclose, reduce, and eliminate chemical hazards in Disney products, including licensed products. The report should be produced at reasonable expense and omit proprietary information.

Supporting Statement: Proponents believe that Disney should create a time line for developing a strong chemicals management framework, with the Restricted Substances List as an initial step. The Restricted Substances List should be released publicly and prioritize selected chemicals for action.

 

 

 


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