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Target's size and scale 'can drive change that is good for all,' according to Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell.

Target eyes new era of sustainability with ‘Target Forward’

Plan centers on responsible brands, waste reduction, more opportunity and equity for employees and customers

Target Corp. has staked out a farther-reaching sustainability strategy that the retail giant said “puts its business to use to positively impact both people and the planet.”

Dubbed “Target Forward,” the plan “marks a new era in sustainability for the company,” Minneapolis-based Target said Tuesday. Over the next two decades, efforts will focus on designing and elevating sustainable brands, innovations to eliminate waste, and acceleration of opportunity and equity for both its workforce and the communities it serves.

“As a company and a member of the global community, it’s imperative for both the health of our business and of our planet that we embrace new ways to move forward,” Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. “We know sustainability is tied to business resiliency and growth and that our size and scale can drive change that is good for all. Target Forward influences every corner of our business, deepens our collaboration with our partners and builds on our past efforts to ensure a better future for generations to come.”


Target's efforts to transform its workforce includes an initiative to raise Black employee representation 20% by 2023.

Among Target Forward’s key commitments, Target said it aims to be the market leader for “creating and curating inclusive, sustainable brands and experiences” by 2030. Also over that time span, the company plans to transform its workforce to better reflect the communities served by its stores. That includes an initiative to boost Black employee representation 20% companywide by 2023. 

Looking farther out, Target is working to have 100% of its private-brand products “designed for a circular future” by 2040. The company said its design teams will continue to focus on waste reduction by using materials that are regenerative, recycled or sourced sustainably, in turn creating products that are more durable, easily repaired or recyclable. And in line with that effort, Target has committed to being a net zero enterprise — zero waste-to-landfill in its U.S. operations and net zero emissions across its operations and supply chain — by 2040.

“We want our guests to turn to Target first when they think about sustainability,” commented Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at Target and president of the Target Foundation. “We know that the only way to make that possible is by putting both people and the planet at the center of our efforts, as we co-create with our guests, our partners and the communities we serve.”

Target noted that it’s already on its way toward achieving the Target Forward goals. In 2019, the company set science-based targets for emissions reductions across scopes 1, 2 and 3, and it committed to join the Business Ambition for 1.5°C initiative, in which participating companies aim to ensure their emissions will contribute to no more than 1.5-degree warming. 


By 2040, Target aims to have 100% of its own-brand products 'designed for a circular future.'

In addition, Target said it has projects and partnerships that will result in purchasing nearly 50% of its electricity from renewable sources. Circular design principles, too, are evident in own brands such as Universal Thread and Everspring, and in 2018 the retailer signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment. 

“Target’s new sustainability commitments can make a real impact. We at Unilever love seeing the goal of net zero emissions, which aligns with ours,” Fabian Garcia, president of Unilever North America, said in a statement. “Carbon reduction is needed to work toward a more sustainable world for all. Unilever and our purpose-driven brands look forward to partnering with Target to help drive our industry even further in improving the health of our planet.”

On the workforce front, Target last year invested another $1 billion in the health, safety and well-being of employees, including a shift to a starting wage of $15. The company noted that in 2020 it also formed the Racial Equity Action and Change (REACH) committee to further efforts to establish racial equity for Black employees, customers and communities. 

“Target has been a Business for Social Responsibility member for more than 10 years, and we are proud to have worked as their partner in developing this ambitious new sustainability platform,” stated Laura Gitman, chief operating officer of Business for Social Responsibility. “We strongly believe that in setting these goals, Target is charting a bold new course based on a clear-eyed understanding that sustainable business strategies are crucial not only for lasting business success, but for building a truly just and sustainable world.”

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