Following letters and petitions from environmental groups, Lowe’s Home Improvement said Thursday it plans to phase out products that contain certain chemicals shown to be harmful to bees.
As part of its annual corporate responsibility report, the Mooresville-based home improvement retailer said over the next four years, it will phase out products that contain neonicotinoid pesticides as suitable alternatives become commercially available.
Over the past year, more than 20 nurseries, landscaping companies and retailers – including Lowe’s larger rival Home Depot, as well as Whole Foods and BJ’s Wholesale Club – have taken steps to eliminate “bee-killing pesticides” from their shelves, environmental group Friends of the Earth said in a statement Thursday.
Lowe’s said in a statement that it would “include greater organic and non-neonic product selections, work with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants it sells and educate customers and employees through in-store and online resources.”
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Environmental groups have been asking Lowe’s to remove the pesticides from their products for about two years, citing bee populations dying at an abnormal rate. In February 2014, activists delivered half a million petition signatures to Home Depot and Lowe’s asking the companies to stop selling bee-killing pesticides, according to the Friends of the Earth website.
Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth, said the group is pleased Lowe’s is “listening to consumer concerns” and to the “growing body of science” linking pesticides to bee deaths.
“Bees are canaries in the coalmine for our food system and everyone, including the business community, must act fast to protect them,” Archer said in a statement.
Lowe’s, the second biggest home improvement retailer in the U.S., operates 1,840 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The company said it plans to open an additional 15 to 20 home improvement and hardware stores in 2015.