New Report: Babies"R"US lags behind on protecting kids from toxics
Clean and Healthy New York and the Getting Ready for Baby campaign released a new report "What We Expect When We're Expecting" comparing how the two baby product market leaders, Babies”R”Us and buybuy BABY, address toxic chemicals that may be used in items they sell. The report explores corporate policy, how the two companies’ parent companies report as manufacturers under Washington State’s reporting law, and how they provide information on their websites.
The report highlights the ways in which Babies”R”Us and its parent company, Toys”R”Us have failed to respond to parental concerns about chemicals. The campaign offered recommendations for the companies, other baby product retailers, and government bodies. They also provide tips for consumers seeking safer products.
“Retailers can play a key role in protecting kids health from the effects of toxic chemicals, because they decide what products they sell. They must use this power to ensure only the safest materials are used for infants, toddlers, and children,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, report author and Getting Ready for Baby campaign coordinator at Clean and Healthy New York. “Babies”R”Us is lagging woefully behind. It’s time for them to understand what we expect when we’re expecting – and keep toxics off their store shelves.”
Babies”R”Us and their parent company Toys”R”Us have established no new policies on chemicals in products since 2011, according to their Toys”R”Us Safety Standards and Practices. They have set limits on lead and cadmium. They stopped using BPA in beverage containers, and limited phthalates in advance but not exceeding US law. The company stopped using vinyl in certain applications, including bibs, in products made for Toys”R”Us. With other vendors, however, they have not gone beyond legal requirements.
Buybuy BABY and their parent company Bed Bath & Beyond have taken a significant step to address chemicals: they issued a Restricted Substances List covering 223 individual chemicals for all products. The policy includes references chemicals restricted under European Union, US, and state-level laws. It also lists 20 chemicals to avoid during manufacture, and cautions product makers to avoid regrettable substitution. “BBB recommends that vendors exercise efforts to reduce or eliminate these substances of potential concern in their products. Be reminded that Vendors should avoid substituting substances on the RSL for another substance of equal or greater concern.”
Other findings include:
As manufacturers, Toys”R”Us reported 128 incidences of Chemicals of High Concern for Children to Washington State under their law. In 7 cases, for products for kids 3 – 12 years old, chemical levels were above 10,000 parts per million. In 34 cases, products were for children under 3.
Bed Bath & Beyond reported 9 uses of Chemicals of High Concern for Children to Washington State, all for ages 3-12, in the 100-500 parts per million range.
Babiesrus.com returns a section called “natural and organic” when the search term “organic” is entered. There is no way to filter just by products with organic content, and the term ‘natural’ has no legal meaning. They offer 764 items in this section – 3.6% of their estimated total number of items.
Buybuybaby.com has 919 items with “organic” in their description – 4.6% of their total estimated number of items offered.
The campaign strongly recommends Babies”R”Us adopt comprehensive approach to address chemicals in the products they sell, based on the Hazardous 100+ chemicals, and establish a timeline for vendors to identify, disclose, and phase out chemicals of concern. Shoppers should have access to information about what chemicals are in products they buy.
buybuyBABY should continue its significant progress by establishing a timeline for vendors to disclose and phase out chemicals on the Restricted Substances List.
People should look for third-party certifications, connect with campaigns to change laws, and contact retailers to express their support for eliminating toxic chemicals.
The Getting Ready for Baby campaign is comprised of over 70 organizations across the U.S. It is calling for baby product retailers to use their position in the marketplace to do what the federal government has thus far failed to do: keep toxic chemicals out of children’s products. Learn more: www.gettingready4baby.org
The campaign is coordinated by, and the report was written by Clean and Healthy New York, an environmental health organization promoting safer chemicals, a sustainable environment, and a healthier world. Learn more: www.cleanhealthyny.org.