Target on Tuesday announced a new commitment to sustainability in packaging, a program first launched in 2013, through five new initiatives. The retailer said it exceeded its previous goals by coming up with 160 enhanced packaging designs that use fewer materials, more recycled content and were recyclable themselves, according to a company blog post.
The five new initiatives include: Eliminating expanded polystyrene in its packaging; Sourcing (at first through its own Spritz, Pillowfort, Cat & Jack, up & up, Smith & Hawken and Threshold store brands) from sustainably managed forests; Adding the standardized “How2Recycle label” on more packaging; Joining national recycling nonprofit the Recycling Partnership; and boosting demand for recyclable packaging by joining efforts of The Material Recovery Facility of the Future and Beyond 34.
Earlier this year, Target announced a major initiative to reduce chemicals in consumer goods (in both products and processes) — a move hailed by many environmental and consumer health groups.
Sustainability is emerging as a major differentiator for Target this year. The new packaging goals announced Tuesday come after the announcement of a new forestry policy earlier this month, as well as a chemical-free effort announced in January.
Target's commitment to greener retail goes beyond similar campaigns spearheaded by its rivals. It has pledged to list 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 to make products and operations greener. Target also said it expects to invest up to $5 million in green chemistry innovation by 2022.
While “natural” products and packaging have been around for a while — and niche brands like The Honest Company are seizing on consumer interest in the natural trend — groups that have pressed for increased disclosure of chemical additives and decreased use of toxins in products praised Target’s move as something of a game-changer.
“This is a big deal,” Mike Schade, director of activist coalition Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families' Mind the Store campaign, told Retail Dive in an email. “Target deserves a lot of credit for expanding their commitment to drive harmful chemicals out of products. Target has set clear deadlines for action on priority chemicals of concern such as phthalates and flame retardants, and committed to publicly report on progress in implementing their new policy. The company to their credit also expanded their chemical reduction actions to other product categories such as textiles.”
Target's move is an even more vital shot across the bow in an era when consumers are better informed about chemicals and their effects on humans, especially on child development, Schade added.