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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.

"The 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.

According to 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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