Target Moves to Raise Sustainability of the Products It Sells

For decades, the environmental community has pushed big retailers to examine the health and environmental impact of the products they sell, and now it’s finally happening. 

Target is following in Walmart’s footsteps – they are both rating the products they sell and using that information to determine which products will be on their shelves.

Since 2009, Walmart has been refining its Sustainability Index and now Target is following suit with the Target Sustainable Product Standard.

Developed over the last two years, Target worked with  industry experts, vendors and nonprofits to establish a common language, definition and process for qualifying what makes a product more sustainable, the company says.

Target logo

"We were thrilled to be a partner in developing the Target Sustainable Product Standard," says John Replogle, CEO of  Seventh Generation. "We know more and more Target guests want greater transparency about the ingredients in the products that they’re purchasing. This tool will help us showcase the authenticity of our products while pushing for industry-wide clarity around what really makes a product sustainable."

Working with Underwriters Lab, Target is asking suppliers of 7500 products – starting with cleaners, personal care and beauty, and baby care – to complete UL’s Transparency Platform assessment. It will be extended to cosmetics next year.

Every product will receive up to 100 points based on the sustainability and transparency of ingredients. 

In 2011, Target said all the fresh and frozen seafood it sells will be sustainable and traceable by 2015. It completely eliminated farmed salmon the previous year.

Meanwhile, Walmart says that by 2017, 70% of all products sold in the US will come from suppliers that use its Sustainability Index. So far, sustainability scores are up 20% for products sold in "general" merchandise, 12% for grocery and 6% for health and wellness products, says the company. Besides product ingredients, scores also include packaging. In September, it announced it would move on reducing/ eliminating toxic chemicals in products under its Consumable Chemicals initiative, the next step in the Sustainability Index.

Walmart has also begun evaluating buyers based on the sustainability of the products they purchase for stores and set emissions reduction goals for its supply chain.

Hopefully, the race is on to actually fill these enormous stores’ shelves with truly sustainable products.

Here are Target’s Sustainability Criteria:

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