WBA is committed to continue to drive transparency and improve traceability of ingredients and materials used in our owned brand products, drive responsible sourcing practices throughout our supply chain and reduce the negative impact of plastics used in our owned brand products.
Our customers help guide our approach to developing, sourcing and marketing our owned brand products. We are constantly updating our product lines and categories to adjust ingredients and packaging and we recognize that sustainability is increasingly important to potential new hires and to our employees, who are responsible for driving a purposeful approach in stores and across our owned brands.
WBA and its businesses have many product brand portfolios, covering a diverse range of categories. Some of these products are sold only through our stores and e-commerce sites. Others, such as our Global Brands beauty and skincare lines, are available at numerous retailers. We are focused on sourcing and packaging these consumer goods safely, responsibly, ethically and sustainably.
We support the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
Sustainability Progress in Our Owned Brands
We report our progress on our commitments to drive responsible sourcing practices throughout our supply chain, provide transparency and improve traceability of ingredients and materials used in our owned brand products and reduce the negative impact of plastics used in these products.
WBA is committed to working with vendors who share its common principles of fair and honest trading, who demonstrate a commitment to maintaining satisfactory working conditions, and who comply fully with all legal requirements and with the labor, health and safety standards of the countries in which processes take place. Our progress is underpinned by our ethical assessments program, our new Global Supplier Sustainability program and our approach to supplier diversity. The following documents on our corporate website detail our approach to ethical and sustainable sourcing:
- Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement – sets out our commitment to eradicating these abhorrent practices, our policies and governance regarding these issues, and the outcomes of our fiscal 2020 ethical assessments program.
- Supplier Code of Conduct – outlines our core principles for supplier conduct, including compliance with laws and regulations, terms and conditions of employment, discrimination, harassment and retaliation, wages and benefits, child labor, health and safety, sustainable development and environmental protection, data privacy and anti-corruption and bribery.
- Human Rights Policy Statement – contains our explicit commitment to respect human rights under international standards and to protect labor and workplace rights.
- Code of Conduct and Business Ethics – provides foundational standards for all business aspects at WBA, including supply chain management.
Aiming to provide greater transparency around the social and environmental performance in our owned brand supply chain, Global Brands is partnering with The Sustainability Consortium in developing a Global Supplier Sustainability Program. Our aim is to drive improvements across the entire supply chain through this partnership.
WBA’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion extends into our supply chain. We are proud to source from a wide range of diverse suppliers through our supplier diversity program. Working with Walgreens business leaders, the program aims to ensure that we source goods and services from enterprises owned by women, people of color, veterans and service-disabled veterans, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people, as well as businesses owned by people who are socially or economically disadvantaged. In fiscal 2020, Walgreens supported more than 2,000 diverse suppliers.
At WBA, we understand that our customers want to feel confident in the safety and transparency of the products they purchase for use. The products we sell are rigorously analyzed for compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and our high standards. Our Chemical Policy Statement details how we assess and restrict the use of certain chemicals or ingredients in products sold in our stores and online through our chemicals management program.
Many of our owned brand products contain palm oil and derivatives. We are committed to helping incentivize the sustainable palm oil industry to combat deforestation and preserve habitat for wildlife as well as to protect the rights of workers. All palm oil in our Boots UK and beauty brand products is certified, including the use of credits. We achieved 40 percent physically certified palm oil and palm oil derivatives by the end of fiscal 2020 across Boots UK owned brands and beauty brands. We are aiming for a target of 75 percent by fiscal 2021. Walgreens has completed a survey of palm oil in its owned brands that will be used to inform our drive to increase the use of sustainable palm oil in our products.
In calendar year 2019, Boots UK owned brands and beauty brands achieved 98 percent use of credibly certified wood pulp and paper in owned brand products and in goods not for resale, such as receipt paper and catalogs. Certified wood pulp and paper come from responsibly managed forests using FSC or PEFC certification. The certification level in owned brands products was 94 percent, and in goods not for resale it was 99 percent. Boots UK received the highest rank - 3 Trees - from WWF-UK’s 2019 Timber Scorecard, the latest published ranking.
Since joining the Global Shea Alliance (GSA) in 2019, WBA has supported the formation of a cooperative of female shea harvesters in Ghana, including legal registration of the cooperative, election of leaders, creation of sub-committees and training more than 700 women in cooperative development and business development.
The GSA is a nonprofit association that promotes industry sustainability, quality practices and standards around shea butter, which is used as a moisturizer in beauty products. Some of our beauty brands, such as Liz Earle, use shea butter widely in their products. Working with the GSA allows us to help to support women who harvest shea in Ghana and to give back to communities that work in the shea industry.
The WBA Global Plastics Task Force oversees our approach to the issue of plastics across businesses - developing policies and implementing changes.
Our two largest businesses, Walgreens and Boots UK also have individual plastic task forces that manage our approach, including use in products and packaging. Boots UK has committed to becoming 100 percent plastic-free in online deliveries by 2021. Working to reach The UK Plastics Pact 2025 goals, Boots reported in WRAP’s member progress tracker, published in December 2019.
We removed 270 metric tonnes of plastic packaging from our UK sourced 2019 holiday gift ranges, more than half of the plastic packaging that was used in the same product lines a year earlier.
We worked closely with suppliers to implement changes, including:
- Removing molded plastic forms and acetate windows from large-volume gifts;
- Making all remaining molded plastic forms 100 percent recyclable:
- Increasing the use of recycled material in gift packaging (to 40 percent in 2019 from 26 percent a year earlier)
A central part of our sustainability approach within our owned brands is to develop and market exciting new product lines and to deepen the sustainability credentials of our existing product lines and brands. These products are especially sought after by consumers who are focused on brands that meet high sustainability standards or certifications.
Boots UK launched a range of sustainable gift sets for the holiday season, becoming the first major UK retailer to offer a gift range of certified CarbonNeutral products.
The products - sold in the UK and Ireland - tap into BBC Earth’s inspiring messages about the wonders of our amazing planet. The BBC Earth line is free of single-use plastic and the responsibly designed packaging is 100 percent recyclable. Certified CarbonNeutral means that the emissions from each product’s lifecycle – including raw materials, packaging, transportation, retail, use and final disposal – have been calculated and offset.
Botanics, our nature-inspired, plant-based skincare brand, has achieved Cruelty Free International Leaping Bunny certification. The entire range of Botanics products is now Leaping Bunny approved. No animal testing is undertaken by WBA and we do not conduct animal testing on our owned brand products or on ingredients used in these products. Botanics took this commitment a step further, looking deeper into its supply chain. Our longstanding Product Testing Policy Statement is available here.
Soap & Glory, our beauty, body and bath products brand, partners with The Hygiene Bank, a charity that provides essential hygiene and personal care products to those living in poverty. In March-June 2020, for every 50 Soap & Glory products sold, the brand donated a full-size Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel to The Hygiene Bank. This resulted in close to 20,000 donations, and drove social media and media interest, helping to raise awareness of hygiene poverty.
Boots UK and Soap & Glory collaborate with The Hygiene Bank, a charity that distributes hygiene, beauty and personal care donations for vulnerable people living in poverty.
Boots UK has an owned-brand range of biodegradable and plastic-free baby, face and hand wipes, which are set to remove at least 200 metric tonnes of plastic per year. Boots affordable range of feminine hygiene products now uses 40 percent less plastic in the outer wrapping of its sanitary towels, and its 97 percent plant-based applicator compact tampons avoid the use of fossil fuels in the manufacturing process. Boots also introduced tights made from plastic bottles during fiscal 2020. Each pair is made from around four plastic bottles, which are shredded into micro-particles, melted down and spun into yarn that is knitted to produce durable and comfortable tights.
Walgreens introduced eco-friendly toothbrushes and flossers in 2020. The toothbrushes feature handles made of bamboo, which is biodegradable, and bristles made of BPA-free, charcoal-infused nylon. The flossers use a bio-based plastic alternative. Walgreens also expanded availability of its line of compostable and eco-friendly tableware, including plates, hot and cold cups, bowls, cutlery and paper straws. And Walgreens entirely removed Styrofoam (polystyrene) from its owned brand household essentials lines.