Shareholder Resolutions

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Company: Bed Bath & Beyond
Subject: Toxic Chemicals Policy
Year: 2014
Sector: Retail Multi-Line
Lead Filer: The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott and Coolidge
Outcome: Withdrawn in response to corporate commitments



Over the past decade, there has been increasing scientific, regulatory, and public concern about the exposures of pregnant women, infants, and children to various chemicals of concern. These include polyvinyl chloride, phthalates, cadmium, harmful flame retardants and Bisphenol A. There is growing recognition that exposures of children to toxic chemicals can have a magnified impact because they are undergoing rapid growth and development which can be disrupted by chemicals. 

In response, consumers increasingly expect increased transparency around the chemical makeup of the products they buy and a burgeoning market for safer products free from chemicals of concern has developed.

As a result, some companies are moving swiftly to respond to consumer demands by improving disclosure and reducing risks embedded in their supply chain by adopting safer chemicals policies and reporting results. For example:

  • Target's new Sustainable Product Standard establishes a product scoring system that awards points based on whether products contain chemicals on certain hazard lists and on whether products' chemicals are disclosed "in a way that allows each chemical's health and environmental impacts to be assessed."
  • Wal-Mart's "Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables" requires suppliers to provide online public ingredient disclosure and prioritizes a list of chemical ingredients for continuous reduction, restriction, and elimination.
  • Staples has adopted a chemicals policy encouraging suppliers to take a precautionary approach, prioritizes chemicals of high concern for elimination and considers the life cycle impacts of the chemicals used in its products.
  • CVS Caremark has committed to phase some harmful chemicals out of its branded products and replace them with safer alternatives. It has also committed to working with manufacturing partners to do the same.

The proponents believe these actions will positively impact customers as well as the companies' bottom lines. Furthermore, companies that fail to keep pace with sector peers could face competitive and reputational risks.


In an effort to reduce regulatory, reputational and business impacts to the Company and chemical risks to consumers, especially babies and small children, shareholders request that the Board of Bed, Bath & Beyond publish a report, regarding its efforts to protect children's health and reduce product toxicity. The report should be based on information known to the Company or available at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary or legally prejudicial information.

Supporting Statement:

Such report should include:

  • a list of relevant chemicals restricted by the Company;
  • measures to encourage implementation by vendors and manufacturers; and
  • the extent to which the materials may currently be present in products sold by the Company.

The report should analyze the Company's long and short term reputational risk or brand impacts, and discuss how emerging policy trends or initiatives by product vendors or retail market peers may reduce the presence of such materials.