TJX Companies – Chemical Policy (2020)
For investors the costs of environment chemical exposure to the health of the global economy raises significant concerns.
Economic costs are rising: a 2017 study by researchers showed that costs associated with environmental chemical exposures worldwide likely exceed 10 percent of global GDP or 11 trillion dollars.
At the same time, new analytical methods providing direct measures of toxic chemicals show that risks to human health may be dramatically underestimated. A recent National Institute of Health- supported study provides compelling evidence that human exposures to Bisphenol A, for example, is much greater than previous estimates that use indirect measurement tools. Bisphenol A affects tissue development linked to behavior, fertility and cancer risks. Approximately 9 million tons annually is used in a variety of consumer products including plastics, epoxy resins and thermal receipts.
States have begun restricting hazardous chemicals. Since 2000, more than 35 states have passed 173 policies that establish state chemicals programs to identify, limit or ban the use of harmful chemicals in products including baby bottles, furniture, electronics, toys, cosmetics and cleaning products.
Toxic chemical impacts present systemic portfolio risks to investors. In the last decade, poor management of regulatory, legal, reputation and redesign risks from hazardous chemicals in products and supply chains has harmed investors as confirmed by plummeting company stock prices (Bayer, Lumber Liquidators) and bankruptcy (Siggs, USA).
Retailers and manufacturers are demonstrating improvements resulting from comprehensive chemical management policies and practices. Walmart, Target, and Dollar Tree have set public goals to address their chemical footprints. In 2018, Target set time-bound goals to remove unwanted chemicals from its textile categories.
TJX Companies does not offer evidence of an overarching chemical management policy, while at the same time investments in its buying organization have allowed it to increasingly rely on goods made to order, including private label.
Recent negative press highlights growing consumer concern and the company’s laggard status. Improving scale, pace, and rigor of its policies and practices may help unlock important opportunities for growth for TJX Companies as consumers are increasingly demanding transparency and environmental accountability from manufacturers and retailers.
Given the impact of toxic chemicals on the economy, human health, and the environment, proponents believe TJX Companies has a clear responsibility to investors and other stakeholders to account for whether, and how, it plans to manage and reduce its chemical footprint.
Resolved: Shareholders request TJX Companies issue a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, describing if, and how, it plans to reduce its chemical footprint.
Supporting Statement: In the report shareholders seek information, at board and management discretion, on the relative benefits and drawbacks of integrating the following actions:
• Developing a comprehensive chemical policy;
• Adopting short- and long-term priority chemical lists;
• Increasing the scale, pace, and rigor of existing initiatives aimed at identifying chemicals of high concern and improving chemical safety; and
• Investing in safer alternatives.