Target was awarded a B+ grade, receiving 79 out of 135 possible points, the 6th highest score of any retailer evaluated, which reflects improvement from its B grade awarded in 2016. Target made significant progress in expanding its chemicals management work over the past year. In January 2017, Target announced an impressive new safer chemicals policy along with ambitious goals to increase transparency of chemicals in products; reduce and eliminate classes of harmful chemicals in textiles, beauty, baby care, personal care, and household cleaning products; and invest in green chemistry research into safer alternatives. The policy applies to the company’s “entire value chain, operations and every product” it sells, including both private label and brand name products. The policy includes clear goals and timeframes for reducing harmful chemicals, and the company has committed to expand the policy to address other product categories and chemicals in manufacturing over time. Target has pledged to publicly report on implementation in the year to come. This builds on Target’s Sustainable Product Index (SPI), first announced in 2013, which flagged more than 2,000 chemicals of concern for eventual reduction and elimination.
Opportunities for improvement: Target can continue to improve its safer chemicals program by expanding the list of chemicals it’s targeting for elimination in textiles and formulated household goods. The company should also expand its policy to address other chemically intensive product categories such as electronics, baby and children’s products/toys, food, and food packaging. Target should become a signatory to the Chemical Footprint Project and pilot it with key private label suppliers.
Summary of Target’s Grade
12 out of 15 points
Policy: Adopted a retailer safer chemicals policy
Additionally Target previously developed its Sustainable Product Index (SPI), which encourages suppliers to disclose chemical ingredients, reduce chemicals of high concern, and promote safer alternatives. Target has flagged more than 2,000 chemicals as either “High Priority” or of “Concern.” Products are scored on a scale from 0 to 100 (or 110 for personal care products and 130 for household cleaning). Of those points, 35 address chemical hazards, 35 address transparency (which includes encouraging suppliers to disclose fragrance ingredients and the full chemical formulation to UL Purview for screening against Target’s list of “High Priority” or “Concern” chemicals), 5 address credible third-party standards, and 1 addresses nanomaterials disclosure. Additional criteria apply to household cleaning products, incentivizing suppliers to: 1) use a significant percentage of safer chemicals identified on EPA’s Safer Chemical Ingredient List (SCIL); and 2) reduce the use of VOC’s in cleaning products. Additional criteria also apply to personal care products, incentivizing suppliers not to use chemical ingredients banned in Canada or the European Union. Target applies the SPI to personal care, cosmetics, household cleaning, and baby care products.
10 out of 10 points
Oversight: Established management responsibilities and incentives
Target’s 2015 sustainability report states the: “Board of Directors maintains oversight responsibility over Target’s reputation and corporate social responsibility efforts…Target’s EVP and Chief CSR Officer presents to the Board annually on CSR-related topics. Additionally, new directors participate in an orientation program that includes discussions with senior management, background materials on the Corporation’s plans, organization and financial statements, including CSR strategy, priorities and progress.”
2.5 out of 10 points
Accountability: Ensures supply chain accountability
The company requires third-party testing for private label products that meet credible third-party safer chemicals standards such as Oeko-Tex.
The company has, however, not specifically disclosed initiatives to audit or train suppliers, or require additional testing to ensure supplier conformance with its safer Chemicals Policy.
7 out of 10 points
Disclosure: Requires suppliers to report use of chemicals in products to retailer
Target uses the UL WERCSmart and PurView platforms for collecting and evaluating information about chemical ingredients in consumables and other formulated products. Suppliers are graded on transparency and disclosure practices in their SPI and encouraged but not required to disclose full ingredient formulations. Target encourages disclosure of fragrance ingredients and full formulations through a third-party such as UL, DFE (Safer Choice), or a Cradle 2 Cradle certifier so that these ingredients can be screened against Target’s red list of chemicals of concern. Target has created this new screening mechanism so that ingredients can be evaluated for safety against Target’s High Priority and Chemicals of Concern while at the same time protecting confidential business information (CBI) of suppliers.
0 out of 15 points
Action: Reduced or eliminated chemicals of high concern within the last three years
4 out of 10 points
Safer Alternatives: Evaluates safer alternatives, avoids regrettable substitutes
Target’s Sustainable Product Index also provides a framework that suppliers could follow for evaluating alternative ingredients and, for example, rewards household cleaning products suppliers whose ingredients are on EPA’s “Safer Chemical Ingredients List (SCIL),” but the company does not outline specific alternatives or hazard assessment methodologies suppliers should follow.
12.5 out of 15 points
Transparency: Demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public disclosure
Transparency is one of Target’s three pillars in its new safer chemicals policy, which states that “Target will strive for full visibility to chemicals contained in and used to make the products we sell and use in our operations. Target will work toward the long-term goal of full material disclosure for all products and processes across all categories and in our operations. Target will approach transparency in the supply chain as an iterative process, continually adding more product categories and achieving increasing levels of transparency.” Along with the policy, in 2017 they set a new goal to “achieve transparency to all ingredients, including generics such as ‘fragrance’, in beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning formulated products by 2020.” Target encourages suppliers to list ingredients on packaging and their websites including nanomaterials, fragrance, allergens, and other generic ingredients through its SPI. The company significantly expanded its criteria around public disclosure in 2016 to encourage suppliers to disclose ingredients to both Target and the public.
0 out of 7.5 points
Chemical Footprint: Evaluates its chemical footprint
6 out of 7.5 points
Third-party Standards: Promotes credible third party standards for safer products
0 out of 5 points
Joint Announcement: Public commitment demonstrated through joint announcement
10 out of 15 points
Continuous Improvement: Shows continuous improvement by steadily expanding safer chemicals policy
5 out of 5 points
Safer Products: Program to promote safer products in stores and/or on website
5 out of 5 points
Collaboration: Actively participates in collaborative process to promote safer chemicals
5 out of 5 points
Impact Investment: Investing financial resources into independent research into safer alternatives and/or green chemistry solutions