Profiles in Prevention -- Target Corporation

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Target, Minneapolis Minnesota

Target Corporation is the second-largest department store retailer in the United States, behind Walmart, and is a component of the S&P 500 Index. Founded by George Dayton and headquartered in Minneapolis, the first Target store opened in Roseville, Minnesota in 1962. As of February, 2018, Target operates 1,822 stores throughout the United States.

In 2007, Target released a 13-page report that outlined their current and future plans for becoming more earth-friendly according to LEED. In 2007, the corporation also agreed to reduce their sales on all materials containing polyvinyl chloride (PVC) after testers found toxic lead and phthalates and large amounts of PVC in toys, lunchboxes, baby bibs, jewelry, garden hoses, mini blinds, Christmas trees, and electronics. Lois Gibbs, executive director of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, stated, "Target is doing the right thing by moving away from PVC and switching to safer alternatives."

Target currently carries over 700 organic and alternative products from brands such as Archer Farms, Burt's Bees, and Method Products and has set high standards for product quality and safety. In 2013 they introduced a Sustainable Product Index (SPI), which helps assess products for healthier living, environmental impact, and packaging and sourcing practices. The company has also taken steps to bring stakeholders together in the name of finding smarter solutions by co-hosting a summit where 50 beauty and personal care companies and organizations met to discuss product sustainability. Building on that work, in 2017 Target announced a new chemical strategy that addresses their entire value chain, operations, and every product they sell. Target’s corporate policy is a strong commitment to driving transparency, proactive chemical management and innovation across all of their owned and national brand consumer products, and operations.

“Our chemical strategy will be one of the most comprehensive in the U.S. retail industry, including all Target-owned and national brand products and operations, not just formulated products,” says Jennifer Silberman, chief sustainability officer, Target. “It’s ambitious, but using our size, scale and expertise, we think we’ll be able to make significant progress. And we hope our robust approach will accelerate similar efforts across the industry. Ultimately, we want to bring all stakeholders together to innovate and champion a consistent, industry-wide approach to greener chemistry.”

The new chemical strategy is an integral part of Target’s sustainability commitments and overarching responsible sourcing aspirations. It builds on a number of their existing tools and efforts, like the SPI, and will sometimes require them to develop new tools to help meet the needs. In some cases, the work will mean innovating to find safer chemical alternatives. Target knows this is an enormous task with no easy answers, so the company plans to invest resources and expertise, especially where no viable substitutions currently exist.

Target’s Chemical Policy

Transparency

Strive for full visibility of chemicals contained in or used to make products they sell.

Goal: Achieve full transparency of all ingredients, such as fragrance, baby care, personal care, and household cleaning products by 2020.

Chemical Management – Work with business partners to implement policies, practices, and tools that facilitate the management of chemicals throughout their supply chain.

  • Goal 1: Improve beauty, baby care, personal care, and household cleaning products by formulating without the use of phthalates, propyl-paraben, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-donors, or NPEs by 2020.
  • Goal 2: Improve textile products by removing added perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) by 2022.
  • Goal 3: Improve textile products by removing added flame retardants by 2022.

Innovation – Actively pursue and promote new approaches to chemicals development and the commercialization of safer alternatives.

Goal: Invest up to $5million in green chemistry innovation by 2022.

To get things started, Target teamed up with vendors, supply chain partners, NGOs and other organizations across the industry to identify unwanted substances in products and operations, understand how they impact health, and work to develop safer alternatives.

An example of Target’s progress early on is their partnership with household brand Seventh Generation.

“This announcement is a huge win for consumer transparency and we're thrilled that Target is taking this step,” says John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation. ”It’s a forward-thinking policy like this that will drive industry change, ensuring that the health of our planet and its people are never compromised for profit.”

Another example of Target’s progress is their work during the GC3 Preservatives Challenge, which drives innovation in the preservatives category and has helped to advance greener chemistry in beauty and personal care products.

Target has closely monitored their progress along the way. Starting in February of 2017, the company began reporting the results as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Because the retail landscape is always changing, Target plans to continue to iterate, update and set new goals as needed, in addition to expanding the categories they cover and which chemicals need to be addressed.

Clean Water Action, in cooperation with Clean Water Fund, have reviewed publically available information presented by the companies and individuals highlighted in the Profiles in Prevention. We have provided this information to the companies and individuals for review.  Being highlighted in Profiles in Prevention does not indicate any endorsement of the company or any of its products. Clean Water Action is not responsible for any misinformation that may be presented in the original source documents. For any questions, please email cwa(at)cleanwater(.)org.