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Target's Chemical Policy

Target Posts Chemical Policy. Will Other Retailers Follow Suit?

Target's Chemical PolicyTarget has published a new chemical strategy and policy that it says will apply across its operations and to every product it sells. The retailer also set a goal to invest up to $5 million in “green chemistry” by 2022 and challenged the industry to follow its example.

“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,” said Jennifer Silberman, Target chief sustainability officer, in a blog post. “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 policy, published today, targets chemicals that pose a risk to employees, customers and the environment, and addresses three topics:

  1. Transparency: Target will work toward the long-term goal of full material disclosure for all products and processes across all categories and in all operations. The retailer says it will continually add more product categories and achieve increasing levels of transparency.
  2. Chemical Management: Target will work with business partners to implement policies, practices and tools that facilitate better chemical management in its supply chain and operations. It will prioritize harmful substances for restriction and use Restricted Substances Lists (RSLs) and Manufacturing Restricted Substances Lists (MRSLs) to minimize and, where possible, remove these prioritized chemicals from products and processes.
  3. Innovation: Target will contribute resources and expertise to commercialize safer alternatives and work with NGOs, associations and industry partners to “innovate and promote a consistent approach to greener chemistry.”

Target has also outlined goals to support the policy. These include:

  • Achieve transparency to all ingredients, including generics such as fragrance, in beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning formulated products by 2020.
  • Improve beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning product categories by formulating without phthalates, propylparaben, butyl-paraben, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-donors, or NPEs by 2020.
  • Improve textile products by removing added perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from products by 2022.
  • Improve textile products by removing added flame retardants that are potential carcinogens or pose harm to the guest, workers or communities by 2022.
  • Invest up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022.

The company says it will monitor progress made and will report on it annually in its corporate social responsibility report.

The new chemical strategy is part of Target’s broader sustainable sourcing efforts. Last November, the company announced its responsible sourcing aspirations for 2020 focus on three areas: worker well-being, net-positive manufacturing and sustainable raw materials.

“These efforts will also help us build resilient supply chains to support our business now and in the future,” Kelly Caruso, president of Target sourcing services, wrote in a blog post about the new 2020 commitments.

Target has long been a retail industry leader in working to phase out toxic chemicals in its products and being transparent about what chemicals it uses.

In late 2013, Target teamed up with Underwriters Laboratories’ product-rating website GoodGuide to rate the environmental impact and sustainability of thousands of products. Beginning in October 2013, Target asked vendors representing 7,500 products in household cleaners, personal care and beauty, and baby care to complete the UL Transparency Platform assessment.

A year later, Target along with other major companies and NGOs launched the Chemical Footprint Project, a metric for publicly benchmarking corporate chemicals management and profiling leadership companies.

Also in 2014, Target co-hosted 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.

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