Target Shows Its Greener Side

Earth Month has officially begun, and retailers are touting their sustainability efforts as surely as crocuses break through winter earth.

Target revealed a new forest products policy and goals, including having full visibility into the wood contained in or used to make products sold by Target or used in its operations; implementing policies, practices and tools that facilitate the management of raw materials throughout the supply chain and across operations, and actively supporting efforts that prevent the destruction of forests and other natural resources.

Last year, Target introduced its reliable sourcing aspirations, which included a commitment to sourcing wood from well-managed forests. The retailer pledged to source for Target’s own brands wood from well-managed and credibly certified forests, and whenever possible, from post-consumer recycled materials.

The goal is to have six of Target’s owned brands fully compliant with the forest products policy by 2022. Implementation will start in 2018 with products containing wood or paper-based materials, like tissues and paper towels, wrapping paper, furniture components and clothing.

Among the brands are Cat & Jack, Pillowfort, Threshold and Smith & Hawken.

This policy comes after Target announced its commitments to responsible sourcing, which focuses on improving worker well-being, achieving net-positive manufacturing and deriving key raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources. The retailer in January announced a chemical policy.

“We’ll work closely with our vendors, suppliers and other partners to understand the origins of the raw materials in products and improve the sustainability of forests where the timber in those products was grown,” said Kelly Caruso, president of Target Sourcing Services. “We’ll start with products containing wood or paper-based materials, such as tissues, paper towels, wrapping paper and furniture components.”

Caruso said the retailer will also target the rayon used in apparel, which comes from viscose, a forest product. “We’ll be working on the brands’ packaging, too,” she said.

The new forest policy is the second major step in Target’s plan to reduce the impact of its supply chain on deforestation. For example, Target in 2015 committed that palm oil used in its owned brand food, personal care and household cleaning products will be fully traceable and sustainably sourced by 2018, or sooner.

When the retailer moves from raw materials to commodities such as beef and soy, it will look for ways to achieve zero net forestation.

Like Wal-Mart, Target has the huge task of bringing its many suppliers into compliance. The Minneapolis-based retailer sources from more than 3,200 registered manufacturing facilities in 50 countries.

In 2012, Target piloted 10 best practices in three high-volume textile mills in China for a year to reduce the impact of its supply chain. Realizing significant savings in water, energy and materials, Target expanded the pilot to two additional Chinese cities in 2013 and is hoping for similarly positive results.


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