Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility

We’re constantly co-creating solutions with supply chain partners to bring guests the products they want while considering the environment.

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Reducing our collective footprint

The future of our business depends on taking care of the resources we have today, so we work with industry partners and experts on ways to reduce the environmental impact of our products, from packaging to transporting them to our stores. As part of our Target Forward strategy, Target commits to achieve 30% absolute reduction in supply chain emissions (scope 3) by 2030, covering retail purchased goods and services from a 2017 base-year.

Our aim, working with our partners, is to create better tools and more efficient processes for producing and shipping our products over time, and to use what we learn to improve our own practices.

Clean by design

Target partners with the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) Clean by Design (CbD) program, which identifies practical, cost-saving opportunities so that our suppliers can increase operational efficiencies in their factories, while simultaneously reducing resource usage, waste and emissions. 

In 2011, in collaboration with our suppliers, we piloted the 10 best practices of CbD in three Chinese textile mills, and saw significant savings in water and energy use. Encouraged by those results, and in continued collaboration with additional suppliers, we expanded the program in 2012, onboarding an additional 60 mills into the CbD program. 

The facility improvements adopted by our suppliers’ participating mills have yielded strong results. Through the CbD program in 2016, seven participating mills reduced water use by more than 940,000 tons — on average, water usage was down 8%. In addition, all 10 participating mills in 2016 saved more than 10,000,000 kWh of energy. 

Then, through Cohort 1 of our 2018 CbD program, the 20 participating mills reduced water use by an average rate of 20%, saving 3.56 million tons. They also lowered energy consumption by an average rate of 12%. As a result, Cohort 1 reduced more than 111,000 tCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. Following that, the additional nine participating mills of CbD 2018 Cohort 2 saved at least 13.7% water, amounting to 1.119 million tons, lowered energy consumption by at least 6.3%, and reduced  35,800 tCO2e of greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, together with our suppliers, we have engaged 72 Chinese mills in the Clean by Design program, which is just one of the ways we partner with our supply chain to use resources responsibly. It’s a key element of reducing carbon emissions throughout our business to meet our ambitious climate goals, which were approved by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Waste

Target believes that while it is critical for the materials that go into a product to be sustainable, what happens to the waste material created in a product’s manufacturing process is equally important. We recognize that Target has the responsibility to ensure the manufacturing waste is treated with environmentally responsible methods. We will make every effort and collaborate with our owned brand suppliers to eliminate and minimize waste by reusing materials, source reduction and recycling. 

We work with our manufacturing partners to proactively eliminate and minimize waste throughout our manufacturing supply chain. We aim to have 50% of apparel, footwear, home and hardlines suppliers by spend achieve zero manufacturing waste to landfill. 

In 2020, our collaboration with Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA) has led to a 90% diversion rate for participating factories – who in 2020 produced 50 million pairs of shoes for brands across the world. These factories have increased their waste revenue by 40% through segregation and resale. By completing the program, 92% of the factories have achieved zero waste to landfill.

We will continue to make every effort and drive collaboration in the industry to build a zero-waste supply chain, by: 

  • Partnering with industry peers and associations to scale up our zero manufacturing waste to landfill program.
  • Develop best practices to reach zero waste by category, and promote industry adoption.
  • Elevate the awareness of zero waste management in the supply chain by providing training on zero waste strategies and procedures.
  • Increase waste data transparency and traceable rate.
  • Drive demand for recycling and reuse materials and services.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition

In 2011, we became a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a group of more than 200 brands, retailers, suppliers, nonprofits and NGOs who work to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. The coalition’s first major project was to create The Higg Index, a tool to help the industry measure the impact of materials, packaging, manufacturing processes and transportation on the environment.

In 2012, Target began asking business partners and their factories producing Target-brand products to use the Higg Index self-assessment. The results are part of our business partners' annual scorecards. In 2020, Target began to require the Higg FEM self-assessment for all factories in scope of our Responsible Sourcing Program as a part of doing business with Target.

Tier two environmental oversight

At Target, our Standards of Vendor Engagement include environmental sustainability standards and we are applying them within our merchandise supply chain to ensure our partners are achieving and sustaining a high level of environmental performance.

To apply these standards, we go beyond our tier one suppliers to also work with our tier two apparel textile suppliers using our Secondary Facilities Oversight (SFO) program. The SFO was modeled upon a framework created by the Natural Resources Defense Council for brands developing supply chain policies to improve environmental performance. We’ve taken initial steps to apply the framework by mapping Target’s tier one and tier two apparel and textile suppliers as published within our global factory list, accessible here. Currently, all tier one and tier two apparel textile suppliers disclose environmental impacts related to their production using the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Facilities Environmental Module (FEM). Target also holds tier two apparel textile suppliers accountable by using the Higg FEM verification process to audit and ultimately elevate their environmental performance.

Those results are subject to third party verification and are mapped against the applicable environmental sustainability standard to ensure compliance and to promote excellent environmental performance within our supply chain.‚Äč

Supply chain transparency

Target’s responsible sourcing strategy is grounded in our commitments to supply chain transparency and to embrace opportunities to drive positive change. As one example, in 2017, the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) in China launched its Green Supply Chain Map.

Using credible, publicly available data, IPE’s Map provides both real-time performance data and historical trend information related to air pollution emissions and wastewater discharge for thousands of major Chinese manufacturing facilities. Target supports the initiative by sharing our supplier factory list and maintaining updates for use in IPE’s mapping efforts. Map users can click the Target logos to access information on those factories’ environmental performance and sustainability efforts.