According to a Securities and Exchange Commission report, Avon Products, Inc. shareholders have rejected a proposal filed by Green Century Equity Fund asking the company to remove hazardous chemicals from its cosmetics. The vote garnered more than 260 million against the proposal and nearly 58 million in favor of it. Green Century Equity Fund is an index “comprised of the stocks of approximately 400 companies selected using environmental, social and governance criteria.”
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a coalition of activist organizations, the request called on Avon to “substitute safer alternatives for dangerous chemicals used in their beauty products that have been linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and other serious diseases.”
CSC noted that Avon “has taken some steps to eliminate dangerous chemicals from its products in the past,” citing a 2004 announcement that the company would comply with the European Union ban on dibutyl phthalate, a 2005 announcement that it would no longer use diethyl phthalate in its fragrances and a 2010 company ban on the use of propyl and butyl parabens in new product development.
Avon products, however, “still contain chemicals linked to cancer, as well as chemicals known to disrupt hormones, which may adversely affect healthy body functioning,” said CSC. “Of particular concern,” noted the agency, “are parabens, a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals, and sodium laureth sulfate, which may be processed using ethylene oxide, a known breast carcinogen.”
CSC also cited triethanolamine, an ingredient it found “in several Avon children’s products [that] can break down into nitrosamines, carcinogenic chemicals [that are] banned from cosmetics in Europe and Canada.”