At Target, our guests come first—they’re at the center of everything we do. Guests love shopping our stores and site for all their favorite things, and we know they care a lot about what’s in those products. They trust the bullseye to provide better choices for their families. Target takes their trust seriously, and continues to proudly deliver on that promise year after year through our long history of investing in the social and environmental sustainability of our communities.
Over the years, we’ve introduced new, better-for-you product options like our Simply Balanced grocery brand. We’ve brought partners together in the name of finding smarter solutions—even co-hosting a day-long summit with Walmart and Forum for the Future, where 50 beauty and personal care companies and organizations met to discuss product sustainability. And we’ve set high standards for product quality and safety, like our Sustainable Product Index (SPI) created in 2013, which helps us assess products for healthier living, environmental impact, packaging and sourcing practices.
And now, to build on that work, we’re announcing a new chemical strategy that addresses our entire value chain, operations and every product we sell—a first in the retail industry. And with it, a new policy: Target is committed to driving transparency, proactive chemical management and innovation across all of our 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.”
Along with the policy, we’re introducing our first set of goals—check them out below. They’re aimed at addressing unwanted chemicals with the biggest potential health impact, factoring in their prevalence within our products. We’re also prioritizing the areas guests tell us are most important to them—such as products that go on, in and around their body.
It takes teamwork
To get things started, we’re teaming up with our 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.
“Making informed choices should be simple for guests,” says Dawn Block, senior vice president, essentials and beauty, Target. “This framework is designed to take the complications out of finding better-for-you product options. We’re looking forward to working with our vendors on solutions that will benefit us all.”
One example where we’ve already made progress? Our 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.”
How we’ll do it
The new chemical strategy is an integral part of our sustainability commitments and overarching responsible sourcing aspirations. It will build on a number of our existing tools and efforts, like the SPI, and sometimes require us to develop new tools to help meet the needs.
In some cases, the work will mean innovating to find safer chemical alternatives. We know this is an enormous task with no easy answers, so Target plans to invest resources and expertise, especially where no viable substitutions currently exist. For example, our work during the GC3 Preservatives Challenge to drive innovation in the preservatives category has helped to advance greener chemistry in beauty and personal care products.
“Part of knowing what’s in products is understanding where they come from and how they’re made,” says Irene Quarshie, vice president, quality & compliance, Target Sourcing Services. “So we’ll build on our work in the responsible sourcing space to help us verify that supply chain processes are sustainable, as well as ethical and responsible, from beginning to end.”
Measuring our progress
So how will we know we’re making headway? We’ll monitor our progress, starting February 2017, and report on it each year in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report. And because the retail landscape is always changing, we’ll continue to iterate, update and set new goals as needed, expanding the categories we cover and chemicals addressed.
“We’re excited to kick off this long-term effort, understanding that this is a journey, and it takes everyone working together to truly make a difference,” Jennifer says. “We look forward to working with our partners on further reducing the presence of unwanted substances in the homes and workplaces of millions of guests, and helping to enhance their health and well-being.”