Waste & Circular Economy

We believe that to have sustainable impact, the economy must be a circular one that designs out waste, uses fewer materials with lower environmental impacts, and makes reuse and recycling easier.

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As we progress in our Target Forward journey toward innovating to eliminate waste, we will address our complete value chain by working upstream with our suppliers, improving our own operational waste and reducing the pain points — such as packaging — identified by our guests.

Design

A sustainable future requires innovation as well as eliminating waste and keeping resources and products in use for as long as possible. Circular design is critical to realizing this — not just for the products Target makes and sells, but for our supply chain, our properties and all our ways of working. Our circular design principles and training resources were co-created with industry experts and are relevant for all team members — whether or not they have “designer” in their job title. Circularity is incorporated throughout our business and brings our diverse teams together to ensure we positively impact both people and planet.

By 2040, Target plans for 100% of our owned brand products to be designed for a circular future. To get there, our teams will continue designing to eliminate waste, working toward using materials that are regenerative, recycled or sourced sustainably, and to create products that are more durable, easily repaired or recyclable.

Icon of a triangular flag.Initial milestone:

By 2025, Target aims to offer two circular owned brands.Icon of three building blocks.Foundations we've laid:

  • More than 2,000 team members and nearly 2,000 vendors have learned circular design principles (see page 45 of our 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report).
  • We also launched Target’s Circular Design Guide, a web-based training hub for team members to learn about circular design, and completed testing for our Circular Design Calculator, enabling team members to calculate key factors when choosing materials (see page 52 of our 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report).​
  • In 2022, we launched Target Zero, an initiative to help our guests more easily find hundreds of products across our assortment that create less packaging waste. 

 

Products

Guests often look to Target for better-for-the-planet product options, and we recognize the rising costs and environmental impacts of waste throughout our own value chain. So, we aim to design all of our owned brand products for a circular future by 2040. We’re working toward a net zero world where we can make the most financial and societal impact by circulating materials at their highest value.

To guide our progress, we put policies in place, developed circular design principles and set goals to keep us on track and moving forward. 

Learn more about sustainable products

Browse our chemical strategy

Explore our climate & energy efforts

Packaging

Enterprise-wide circular design principles are the backbone of our newly developed retail product packaging strategy that aspires to have a healthy, inclusive and waste-free future. We know consumers are concerned about plastic packaging impacts. We want to use data to inform our decisions, drive positive systems changes through pre-competitive collaboration across the supply chain and understand the holistic impact of plastic packaging changes.

Learn more about our approach to plastics

Operations 

We're designing new ways to make our business and supply chain more sustainable from beginning to end, and that includes reducing waste across our operations. When we can’t eliminate waste, we try to divert it from landfill. Our landfill diversion programs span across our construction and operational waste, and in 2020, we diverted 60.2% of our construction waste and 80.1% of our operational waste. 

We have also applied sustainability principles to guest-facing events and internal team meetings. When planning, we require our agencies and vendors to adhere to sustainability guidelines and assign sustainability resources and experts onsite to support them.

Recycling

Since 2010, we have offered front-of-store recycling kiosks that give guests an easy way to recycle cans, glass, plastic bottles, plastic bags, MP3 players, ink cartridges and cell phones right in their local store. The goal of the program is to extend our company recycling efforts, and so far, the program has kept thousands of tons of recycled materials out of landfills.

We endeavor to make recycling simpler and more convenient for our guests with select take-back programs. We have offered front-of-store recycling of plastic bags and some electronics since 2010 and have held car seat trade-in events since 2016.

 

Food Waste

We employ multiple tactics to reduce food waste. We’re carefully looking at our replenishment strategy so that we don’t hold more food than we think we will sell. When we end up with more food than we can sell, we use store tools and technology to promote donating food, through our partner Feeding America. We continue to use a standardized date-label initiative across our owned brand products to help provide clearer guidance to our guests and help reduce food waste in their homes. For food that cannot be donated, we continue to implement organics or composting programs where possible, with 545 of our facilities already participating. 

Plastics in our operations

Target is committed to reducing the amount of plastics used across our business. Since 1994, our teams have been using a closed-loop reuse program for our plastic garment hangers that hold clothes, towels, curtains and other products. In 2020, we also began piloting a textile-to-textile recycling project with Circ, where we take our end-of-season, overstock and end-of-life textiles and convert them into new raw materials. Also in 2020, we were a founding partner of the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, which aims to identify, pilot and implement innovative alternative designs for the single-use retail bag.

Explore more about our plastics reduction efforts

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Training

In 2020, we launched Target’s Circular Design Guide, a web-based training hub for team members to learn about circular design and how it impacts their daily work. The interactive resource includes videos, tools and case studies, which we also incorporate into onboarding.

In 2020, 60.2% of construction waste was diverted and we diverted 80.1% of our operational waste from landfill.