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April 30, 2013
Avon Challenged to Remove Toxins from Cosmetics
by Robert Kropp
Shareowners will vote this week on a resolution by Green Century Capital Management that follows
the introduction in Congress of the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013.
A shareowner resolution requesting that Avon remove hazardous chemicals from its cosmetics and
personal care products has been filed by Green Century Capital Management and will be voted on by
shareowners at the company's annual general meeting in New York City on Thursday.
cosmetics industry has an ugly problem: make-up, shampoos, and lotions are contaminated with toxic
chemicals that harm health," said Janet Nudelman of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of nonprofit
organizations. "Products used every day by men, women, and children contain unsafe chemicals,
whether it's baby shampoos contaminated with cancer-causing formaldehyde, lead in lipsticks or
mercury in skin creams."
In 2012, Johnson & Johnson, a competitor of Avon's,
announced that it would remove selected chemicals from its products globally by 2015, according to
Green Century's shareowner advocacy campaign on behalf of the issue. The potential business risks
to Avon and other companies in the industry were highlighted further in March, when the Safe
Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 was introduced in Congress.
the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the bill would provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with
the authority to ensure that all personal care products are free of harmful ingredients.
Referring to Avon's sponsorship of breast cancer awareness campaigns, Sarada Tangirala of the
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said, "It's hypocritical for Avon to sell products made with
cancer-causing chemicals, while at the same time spending millions of dollars marketing themselves
as a company committed to curing breast cancer. The biggest contribution Avon can make to the
breast cancer cause is to reformulate its cosmetics and lotions to reduce women’s exposure to
chemicals linked to cancer."
"Consumers are beginning to realize that the products they
trust to put on their face, lips, and eyes may in fact contain toxic chemicals," Lucia von Reusner
of Green Century said. "Avon needs to respond to these concerns and provide customers with the
safety and quality they deserve and expect from Avon products."
And Richard Liroff of the
Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN)
said, "The public is becoming increasingly aware that current regulations are insufficient to
protect against exposure to toxic chemicals present in every day household products. Companies can
protect their brands and reputations by developing beyond compliance measures to respond to these
concerns and provide safer, non-toxic alternatives."
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