Target on Tuesday introduced a new climate policy and sustainability goals, aiming to reduce its absolute scope one (direct) and scope two (indirect, from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam) greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 2015 levels by 2025; the retailer also plans to source 100% renewable energy in its domestic operations in the coming years and promote water conservation, which has already saved more than 22 million gallons through outdoor irrigation systems at 176 stores.
The retailer is also developing a scope three plan to decrease emissions generated through the manufacturing and distribution of products, business travel, guests using its products and other indirect sources, the company said in a blog post.
The plan is to ramp up use of renewable solar and wind power to offset energy used at its facilities, increasing the energy-efficiency of heating and lighting sources in stores, actively managing our refrigerant inventory and exploring new programs, the company said. For scope two decreases, Target will expand its participation in the Clean by Design textile industry program and the Vietnam Improvement program, which work to improve energy and water efficiency.
The efficiency moves by retailers are a case of a rare win/win — they tend to significantly reduce costs for them while scoring points with customers. It’s also a bit of a positive arms race, as Walmart and Target, among others, signal ever-rising goals for water and energy efficiencies and lower emissions targets in their operations. Target last year topped the list of American businesses using solar energy, beating out Walmart for the first time.
Solar energy in particular has become an intriguing opportunity for U.S. corporations to further their sustainability goals and even save money. As costs have come down in recent years and consumers become more environmentally conscious, there has been growing demand from corporations for renewable energy. Other retail and mall companies in that report from the Solar Energy Industries Association include real estate developer Prologis (107.8 MW), Apple (93.9 MW), Costco (50.7 MW), Kohl’s (50.2 MW), IKEA (44 MW), Macy’s (38.9 MW), shopping center developer General Growth Properties, Inc. (30.2 MW) and real estate and shopping center developer Hartz Mountain Industries (22.7 MW).
The goals announced Tuesday are in line with new goals from the Science-Based Targets initiative, an organization providing guidelines to U.S. companies to help align their corporate goals with climate science.
"Target has long been committed to making our business more sustainable, which leads to a stronger, cleaner supply chain and operations, and a healthier environment for our team members and guests," CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. "That’s why we’re setting goals to reduce our greenhouse gas footprint, and working with our industry partners, policymakers and other stakeholders to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy."
Target has also been assertive in the more complex arena of reducing chemical exposure in the consumer products and apparel it makes and sells. The big box retailer earlier this year unveiled a sweeping new approach to its chemical strategy, promising increased transparency and healthier, more natural products and operations. That commitment to greener retail goes beyond similar campaigns spearheaded by its rivals.
The retailer has pledged to list all ingredients in all owned and national brand products by 2020; will formulate beauty, baby care, personal care and household cleaning products without phthalates, propylparaben, butyl-paraben, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-donors or nonylphenol ethoxylates by the same time; will produce textiles without adding perfluorinated chemicals or flame retardants that are potential carcinogens or pose harm to guests, workers or communities by 2022; and will leverage its size and scale to work with vendors make both products and operations greener. Target also said it expects to invest up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022.