Reducing Chemical Toxicity – Jarden Corporation (2014)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn. The company has agreed to enter into a good faith dialogue concerning product chemical content and opportunities and risk facing the company's brands.
A growing body of scientific research has identified consequences of concern on public health from exposures to toxic chemicals in consumer products.
Chemicals of concern have included selected phthalates and heavy metals, some of which can be present in polyvinyl chloride and selected brominated flame retardants.
The chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) while now banned in selected baby products is found in a broad range of consumer products. BPA has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and unusually high levels of liver enzymes in several reports including a human study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
A growing public concern, both industry and regulators have taken action;
Regulations in California, other states, and in the European Union are restricting or otherwise regulating chemicals in consumer products while U.S. federal regulation has lagged;
Major retailers who are purchasers of Jarden’s brands have begun responding to potential risks from chemical exposures. Walmart developed a Policy on Sustainable Chemistry in Consumables prioritizing ten chemical ingredients for continuous reduction, restriction and elimination. Target announced working toward a sustainable product standard across its 7,500 suppliers.
According to a leading provider of performance analytics for investors, Jarden places in the bottom quartile on chemical safety due to a relatively high exposure to regulatory risks and reformulation costs associated with product chemical content; and a weak chemical phase-out and management strategy.
Jarden’s consumer solutions division which manufactures household products and appliances are business lines identified as facing relatively high exposure to regulatory and reformulation risk due to chemicals of concern.
Jarden’s branded consumables, consumer, process and outdoor solutions divisions include NUK and Gerber infant and children products, Yankee Candle, Holmes, Marmot and K2. These brands among others are at risk of containing chemicals of concern including hormone disrupting chemicals found in infant and children’s products and fragrances; perfluorinated compounds found in outdoor wear; and brominated flame retardants in bedding.
After facing negative publicity in 2012 from environmental groups over the company’s use of harmful chemicals in Marmot outerwear, Jarden invested in safer water repellant substances.
Approximately half of the company’s assets are in the United States, where product chemical regulations are likely to strengthen.
However, Jarden does not disclose a corporate wide chemicals management policy.
By not systematically addressing toxic chemical risks in its products and supply chain we believe our company faces potential regulatory, reputational and reformulation risks.
Shareholders request that the Board publish a report to shareholders on Jarden’s options for adopting voluntary programs and practices to implement a “safer alternatives policy” to disclose, reduce, and eliminate chemical hazards in Jarden’s products, especially those that may affect children. The report should be produced at reasonable expense and omit proprietary information.
Proponents believe Jarden should create a time line for developing a strong chemicals management framework, including a publicly available Restricted Substances List as an initial step.