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Rite Aid ups commitment to improving own brand chemical management

Rite Aid is issuing a food-contact materials restricted substance list and requiring own brand suppliers to certify that its packaging and packaging components comply with it, as well as federal and state packaging laws.
David Salazar
Managing Editor
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Rite Aid is doubling down on its efforts to reduce toxic chemicals in the products it sells as part of its ongoing RxEvolution strategy. The Camp Hill, Pa.-based chain said the move aligns with its overall objective to help customers achieve whole health, and that it has identified several areas for improvement in its revised chemical policy. 

The retailer is committing to issuing a food-contact materials restricted substance list and requiring own brand suppliers to certify that all packaging and packaging components sold to Rite Aid comply with federal and state packaging laws, as well as the company’s corporate restricted list for food-contact packaging materials. Additionally, suppliers will be required to certify that restricted chemicals were not intentionally added to their packaging and do no exceed restriction limits outlined in the restricted substance list. 

Rite Aid also will be offering increased product transparency, requiring suppliers to provide additional disclosure for such generic ingredients as “fragrance” by December 2023. The company also will work to enhance consumer transparency efforts around such attributes as organic, non-GMO, cruelty-free and praraben-free to make it easier for customers to identify cleaner products. 

“Rite Aid’s RxEvolution is about promoting whole health, and we’re dedicated to ensuring that our merchandise is aligned to that goal,” said Erik Keptner, chief marketing and merchandising officer, Rite Aid. “We’re proud of our work to offer cleaner, more sustainable products. Our expanded commitment is another step forward in our journey to offer our customers product choices they can feel great about.”

The latest efforts build on work that Rite Aid kicked off in 2016 when it executed a formal chemical management policy and committed to removing right chemicals of concern from its own-brand products by the end of 2020. So far, Rite Aid has reached 98% compliance with its commitment is working with its suppliers to reformulate or transition remaining items to achieve total compliance. 

Rite Aid also has been working to screen all formulated products against its restricted substance list, which contains 69 chemicals of concern. 

Alongside the chemical policy, the company’s merchandise transformation is emphasizing a broader product assortment with cleaner ingredients that are better for the environment. Efforts include using the WERCSmart platform to complete automated restricted substance list evaluations. It also has been continuing its Mind the Store campaign, which works with hundreds of organizations and businesses, encouraging retailers to replace chemicals of concern with safer alternatives. 

“We are very pleased to see that Rite Aid is taking concrete actions to safeguard its customers and communities from toxic chemicals,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director. “Today’s announcement shows excellent progress; setting higher bars on chemical management is a growing sustainability trend among retailers. In our work with Rite Aid over the last year, we have been impressed by the significant progress made despite the global pandemic.”

Rite Aid said it would include information about its progress in these various efforts as part of its annual corporate social responsibility report.