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Chemical Safety Policy

Our consumers’ health is at the heart of everything we do. This is why we are committed to evaluating the products we sell — starting with our own brands — to make sure they are in line with our responsible chemical management policy. This policy includes categorizing chemicals of concern, eliminating or restricting the use of such chemicals, identifying safer alternatives, conducting additional testing, and encouraging ingredient transparency from suppliers. We will continue to work with business partners to ensure that the products we offer give you peace of mind. Oversight of this policy lies with our Vice President of Store Brands, Vice President of Compliance, and Chief Sustainability Officer. 

Identifying and restricting chemicals of concern 

Our store brand products have always been subject to stringent standards of safety, quality and environmental responsibility and – at a minimum – meet all federal and state requirements. In 2017, we announced the removal of parabens, phthalates, and the most prevalent formaldehyde donors (preservative ingredients that can release formaldehyde over time) from our store brand beauty and personal care (CVS Health, Beauty 360, and Blade) product lines, which was completed in 2019. As part of this announcement, we released our full list of restricted chemicals by category. This list is updated on an annual basis. View the list here.  

We work with suppliers of our store brand food and beverage products to eliminate pesticides of concern as part of our Pollinator and Pest Management Policy. We encourage our suppliers to use the Environmental Protection Agency’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies which include the adoption of least-toxic approaches to pest management – thereby keeping health of people and pests top-of-mind. 

Identifying safer alternatives 

We expect our suppliers to follow the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, which are a guiding framework for the design of products and use of manufacturing processes that reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals of concern. Our focus is to accelerate the elimination of chemicals of concern and the adoption of safer alternatives, which is less hazardous to humans or the environment than the existing chemical or chemical process. A safer alternative to a particular chemical may include a chemical substitute or a change in materials or design that eliminates the need for a chemical alternative.   

To help suppliers identify safer alternatives to ingredients on the Restricted Substances List, we direct our suppliers to governmental and sector programs that: 

  • Certify ingredients as safer alternatives, including

    • US EPA’s Safer Chemical Ingredient List, which maintains a list of safer chemical ingredients arranged by functional-use class. Trade name ingredients that have met the criteria are available through CleanGredients

    • The Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Registry, which includes chemicals and materials that are either Cradle to Cradle Certified® or have a Material Health Certificate™ 

    • Aggregate information about safer alternatives by product category, including The Chemsec Marketplace, which is a platform where product designers can search for alternatives and post to the platform if they don’t find alternatives.  

    • UL Prospector and SpecialChem are tradename ingredient selection platforms where product designers can search for materials from global suppliers by function, chemical, properties, and more. Technical data and supplier information is included but chemicals listed are not assessed against environmental health or sustainability criteria. 

Additional testing 

As part of our Tested to be Trusted initiative, we require third-party laboratory testing of all vitamins and supplements to ensure there are no identified harmful contaminants and that the products do not exceed set standards. These include standards for metals, pesticides, microbiological components, industrial contaminants in fish oil, known adulterants, and “free from” claims (for example, ‘gluten-free’ claims). To further ensure safety, we require all suppliers to manufacture supplements and vitamins in facilities that are registered with the Food and Drug Administration.  

Chemical transparency 

Our chemical policy has evolved based on a foundation laid over the last decade to advance our chemical management efforts. In 2007, we became the first major drugstore to establish a Cosmetic Safety Policy. Since then, CVS Health has made substantial progress toward sustainable chemical management, including: 

  • The launch of the WERCSmart tool in 2013 to ensure suppliers register ingredient information for all chemical-based products. 

  • In 2016, becoming the first major pharmacy chain in the country to become a signatory of the Chemical Footprint Project, which provides us a tool to benchmark our efforts in transitioning to safer chemicals.