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.


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:

  • Trained more than 3,000 team members and 1,000 vendors have learned circular design principles since 2018.
  • 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.
  • 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. 



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. 

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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


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 2021, 68.2% of construction waste and 80.8% of operational waste was diverted from retail operations.

Events and marketing   

We apply sustainability principles to various guest-facing events and internal team meetings through the creation of bespoke plans. Vendors must adhere to sustainability guidelines outlined in our SOVE, with Target assigning resources and on-site experts to support them.   

Since 2020, we have printed display signs in-store, allowing us to create only what we need and reducing waste. We have replaced most landfill-only foam core with recycled, recyclable corrugate and are now reviewing other plastic types, reducing virgin plastic use and ensuring what we do use can be recycled in-store or in partnership with the Waste Minimization team. Until 2021, our holiday containment bins were corrugate with a plastic front. Following a 2022 redesign, these bins are now 100% corrugate, eliminating the use of more than 61,700 lbs of plastic and making them compatible with in-store recycling processes. Additionally, the switch has resulted in a 25% materials cost saving.   

Enhancements to our Rubix project management software have increased our ability to divert waste from landfill by improving the information we have on the materials we use. Signs and hardware made with non-sustainable materials can be eliminated or modified based on this information. 


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 twice-yearly car seat trade-in events since 2016.


Food waste

Aligned with our Target Forward goal to achieve zero waste to landfill in our U.S. operations by 2030,  we plan to reduce operational food waste by 50% by 2025. We employ multiple tactics that will help us achieve this goal:

  • We have improved our forecasting and replenishment strategy, and enhanced reporting and processes, so that we don’t hold more food than we think we will sell. 
  • With the support of our partner Anthesis, we have also established our food waste footprint and baseline year (2017), utilizing the World Resources Institute (WRI) Food Loss & Waste Protocol. We can now start to measure, track and address our food waste “hot spots.” 
  • Should any of our stores and supply chain facilities have surplus food, they can donate eligible safe-for-consumption products to their local Feeding America member food bank. This partnership allows us to support the communities we serve while reducing our environmental impact. In 2021, we donated 106 million pounds of food, which is equivalent to 88 million meals. 
  • For food that cannot be donated, organics recycling or composting programs are currently available at 712 of our facilities, and in 2022, we will also launch an additional 700 stores on an organics recycling program with our partner Divert Inc. In addition, Divert Inc. has also supported our efforts by analyzing our waste stream and helping us innovate to reduce wasted food.
  • We’ve launched a pilot with Apeel Sciences in 225 stores, using plant-based wrapping to extend the shelf life of avocados.

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


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 2021, 68.2% of construction waste and 80.8% of operational waste was diverted from retail operations.