Our guests want to know about the chemicals used to make their favorite products, and they look to Target for better options for their families. So, in 2017, we launched our chemical policy to help us manage chemicals across our product assortment and operations.
Target is committed to driving transparency, proactive chemical management, and innovation across all of our owned and national brand consumer products and operations. We do it through:
We strive for full visibility to chemicals contained in or used to make the products we sell and use in our operations.
We work with business partners to implement policies, practices and tools that facilitate the management of chemicals throughout our supply chain and across our operations.
We recognize that safer alternatives may not exist today for some chemicals. Therefore, we actively pursue and promote new approaches to chemicals development and the commercialization of safer alternatives.
View our chemical policy
Implementing our policy
Our chemical policy is an integral part of our Target Forward commitments and overarching responsible sourcing aspirations. We believe that by supporting our vendors in being more transparent about the ingredients in products, we can spur innovation across all of our product categories and operations and help reduce unwanted substances from the homes and workplaces of millions of guests.
One key principle of our chemical policy is the desire to find safer alternatives and avoid regrettable substitutions. We’ve made detailed guidance and resources available to our suppliers on how to find, assess, compare and select safer alternatives to harmful chemicals in their products and how to avoid regrettable substitutions. Another key principle that we use to implement our policy is to vary our approach based on the needs of the product category or part of our business, whether that’s based on availability of suitable alternatives, testing requirements or innovation to support the greater supply chain needs.
Our approach to goals
We introduced our first set of goals in 2017, aimed at addressing unwanted chemicals with significant potential health impact and prevalence within our products. The goals prioritized products our guests tell us are most important to them: ones that go in, on and around their bodies.
Since we set our first goals, we have made steady progress and continue to challenge the industry. We are actively evaluating the landscape and learning along with our stakeholders. Some of our goals will be retired as they reach their goal dates and/or are achieved, and we’ll set new goals on occasion as well. For example, we just set a new goal that by 2025 we’ll seek to remove intentionally added perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) from owned brand products including but not limited to textiles, formulated, cosmetics, beauty and cookware items. Learn more about our goals and how they help us advance our work within the sections below.
Read more about our goals, reporting and progress
Textile product categories
As part of our chemical policy commitments, we are actively working to make progress toward greater transparency, better chemical management and innovation in our textiles products.
We utilize a restricted substance list as applicable for Target products. This is done by restricting chemicals in our manufacturing processes (MRSL) and through an additional list restricting chemicals in the product (RSL).
Our MRSL/RSL applies to all owned brand products for Target and includes the following product and facility types for products manufactured on or after January 2020:
- Clothing (entire garment/textile product including trims).
- Non-clothing (furniture, bedding, footwear, umbrellas, etc.), fabric only.
- Facility (MRSL only) – Clothing, non-clothing – fabric: dyeing/finishing forward.
In alignment with and going beyond our RSL, we leverage certifications such as Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX® to provide our guests further safety and peace of mind. These products have been independently tested and certified against a list of over 350 harmful chemicals according to OEKO-TEX® guidelines.
Explore products that are OEKO-TEX® certified
For MRSL, we look at restrictions for the input chemistry for a facility and set corresponding requirements for the output/wastewater from the facility. As of 2018, Target became a signatory brand of the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Programme and adopted the ZDHC MRSL and corresponding ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. It is expected that our suppliers adopt the ZDHC requirements (MRSL and Wastewater Guidelines), utilize and have access to the ZDHC tools (ZDHC Gateway, ZDHC Chemical Management System or equivalent, applicable ZDHC trainings, Supplier to Zero program, Reporting, etc.) and comply with these requirements.
We have and will continue to provide our vendors guidance on our RSL, MRSL and chemical management via our online supplier platform. We know that our vendors and manufacturing supply chain play the biggest part in ensuring we are driving continuous improvement in meeting our chemical policy expectations. We will continue to work with vendors and supply chain partners on our ongoing efforts toward meeting our chemical policy goals and objectives.
Our textile-specific goals
- 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 guests, workers or communities by 2022.
- All Owned Brand apparel textile factories comply with Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) progressive level wastewater standard by 2025
Learn about our textiles work and approach here
Formulated essentials product categories
In 2017, we set a goal to improve beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning product categories by formulating without phthalates, propyl-paraben, butyl-paraben, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-donors or NPEs by 2020. We worked directly with our manufacturing and brand partners to understand the challenges of reformulation, and the suitability of alternatives. While we didn’t achieve our ambitious goal to completely eliminate these ingredients from our product assortment, we learned a lot in the past several years and made strides in improving these categories. Instead of continuing to track against this goal, we have applied our learnings to update our strategy to address a new Target Priority Chemical List (TPCL). This list will be built into business processes to incentivize and design products that are better for people and the planet.
Learn about our Target Priority Chemical List and approach
Our 2017, transparency goal in beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning formulated products, including generics such as ‘fragrance,’ will also be retired as a formal goal. Instead of continuing to track our progress, we’re building in the same transparency expectations to programs like Target Clean and our owned brand product development. We encourage all supply chain partners to find paths allowing full material disclosure to consumers, and support those who are actively going above and beyond the current transparency regulations.
Despite sunsetting these specific time-bound goals, we’re advancing our overall approach in these product categories by calculating our chemical footprint, beginning with a 2020 baseline. We are also expanding our Target Clean program, making transparent products affordable and accessible for guests and team members.
We are working to close the opportunity gap for women and people of color in chemical management. In 2021, we completed our Building Blocks for Better Products (B3P) program – an initiative to help nearly 30 women-or Black-, Indigenous-, and People-of-Color-owned or founded businesses phase out harmful or undesirable ingredients from their beauty and personal care products.
Our operations efforts
To continue our leadership and demonstrate our commitment to our Chemical Policy, we’ve identified areas within our operations where we’re taking action on driving transparency and chemical management.
- Receipt paper: Target has transitioned to phenol-free receipt paper for our stores. There is growing concern — backed by studies — about the negative health effects of handling BPA (Bisphenol A) and BPS (Bisphenol S) chemicals found in standard thermal receipt paper. By switching to a phenol-free receipt paper, Target has taken a significant step in proactively ensuring the ongoing safety and health of our team members and guests. Since 2020, Target has fully converted to phenol-free receipt paper for use in all standard and mobile-device checkout lanes.
- Smart salting: Target has revamped our salt application training at stores that experience snow- and ice-related events during winter. This training helps ensure our team members apply salt appropriately, reducing any negative impact to local water bodies, while still maintaining a safe environment for the guest.
- Neonicotinoid management: In an effort to do our part to address the growing evidence suggesting that the use of neonicotinoids (neonics) insecticides may be harmful to bee populations, Target has implemented a system to increase transparency by tracking vendors’ use of this chemical on our properties. Our aim is to have an in-depth understanding of where neonics are used on Target properties in order to develop better risk management options and best practices around managing neonics in the future.
Promoting pollinator health
In addition to the neonicotinoid work within our operations, we have set a goal to leverage soil health practices to improve at least 1 million acres of land by 2025. We also provide the following guidance to partners in support of protecting pollinators.
The following guidance applies to all our produce, live plants and flowers supply chains (owned brand and national brand):
- Suppliers are encouraged to limit non-essential use of pesticides and employ integrated pest management (IPM) strategies whenever possible.
Suppliers are encouraged to transition away from neonicotinoids and chlorpyrifos in favor of alternative solutions, unless mandated by law. When phasing out these pesticides, suppliers are encouraged to avoid regrettable substitutions. (The EPA provides a list of chemicals subject to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s policy to mitigate the acute risk to bees from pesticide products.)
- Live plant suppliers are encouraged to label pollinator-friendly plants (plants grown without neonicotinoids, flupyradifurone and sulfoxaflor) for sale in our retail stores.
- Continue to avoid selling invasive live plant species based on recognized regional lists.
- Controls and processes for application of any chemicals or pesticides must meet or exceed all local and federal laws, regulations and guidelines. Suppliers may be asked for documentation at any time.
- We support and encourage the growth of the organic industry and the high tech hot house or greenhouse grown industries with their primary reliance on the use of IPM.
Green chemistry & safer alternatives innovation
One of the ways we’re meeting our innovation commitment is by using our philanthropic resources to support the work of organizations driving innovation across the chemicals value chain.
We requested proposals from nonprofit organizations, schools or public agencies committed to driving systems change to advance green chemistry in any of the following four key areas: Awareness, Transparency, Chemical Assessment and Safer Alternatives.
View the grant recipients
We also set a goal in 2017 to invest up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022, and we’re proud to say that we’ve exceeded that goal. In addition to these philanthropic grants, we’ve invested in Safer Made and piloted a program to bring technology, formulation and transparency resources to women-, Black- and Indigenous-owned or founded emerging beauty brands, as well as those owned or founded by other entrepreneurs of color.
It takes teamwork
How do we do it? We’re working closely with our vendors, supply chain partners, NGOs and other stakeholders across the industry to identify unwanted substances in products and operations, understand how they impact health and work to develop safer alternatives.
Meet some of our partners: