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Company: Becton, Dickinson
Subject: BFRs in Products
Year: 2008
Sector: Electronics Retail/Manufacture
Lead Filer: Domini Social Investments
Outcome: Vote: 36.1%

Whereas:
Becton, Dickinson and Company is a leader in technologies geared toward measurement of biological processes to advance human health.

Becton, Dickinson has been recognized for its overall business, social, and environmental performance by inclusion in the 2006 Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Becton, Dickinson’s 2006 Citizenship Report states the company strives “to minimize the discharge of hazardous materials and the generation of hazardous waste, promote recycling and resource recovery, conserve energy, water and natural resources, and reduce air emissions and water effluents at our facilities worldwide.”

Some materials used in medical devices can be sources of toxic chemicals that are ingested, inhaled, or otherwise absorbed by patients and/or health care workers, resulting in measurable levels of those chemicals in blood or breast milk. The chemicals of concern include brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which have been linked in animal studies to suppression of the immune system, cancer, and neuro-behavioral and developmental effects. Measurements of BFRs in mothers’ breast milk around the world show that median levels are highest in American mothers.

The European Union, from which Becton, Dickinson derived 30% of its revenues in 2006, has been enacting increasingly stringent regulations on toxic chemicals in products, and has begun reevaluating the exemption for medical devices from its Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.

Baxter International has recognized that the RoHS exemption is likely to be lifted by 2012, is developing a global strategy to eliminate the hazardous substances listed under RoHS, and this strategy includes securing information about product content from its suppliers.

Johnson & Johnson’s “Design for the Environment” process, part of its Healthy Planet 2010 goal to continuously improve products’ environmental profiles, has already begun to produce RoHS-compliant products and includes a sustainable packaging initiative where biodegradable polymers are used to replace more problematic materials.

Johnson & Johnson has adopted “green chemistry” manufacturing principles that include selection of more environmentally friendly materials.

Kaiser-Permanente and other major purchasers in the U.S. health care sector are establishing environmentally preferable purchasing practices that favor products reducing or eliminating toxic chemicals. Kaiser-Permanente’s national environmental purchasing policy specifically calls for avoiding brominated flame retardants.

In response to a shareholder resolution in January 2006 on toxic chemicals in products, Becton, Dickinson indicated a willingness to begin surveying its suppliers on one class of chemicals—brominated flame retardants—but since that time has not disclosed a comprehensive, detailed policy and goals for systematically reviewing and reducing toxic hazards in its products.

Therefore be it resolved:

Shareholders request that the Board publish by October 2008, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, a report evaluating the company’s policies on BFRs and other internationally recognized toxic chemicals of concern, including a characterization of whether and in which product categories the chemicals of concern are contained in company products, and options for policies and practices to deploy safer alternatives to the chemicals of concern..


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