Since the first store opening in 1962, Target has made the health and sustainability of surrounding communities a top priority.
In the early 1960s, part of Target’s giving strategy was devoted to urban renewal such as cleaning rivers and waterways. In the 1970s, Target sponsored the first Earth Day celebration and developed a groundbreaking recycling program. In recent years, Target has joined forces with organizations fromacross the apparel, shoes and home textiles industries to help found the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Sustainable Textiles Coalition. These two groups are made up of retailers and brands that are working to reduce their environmental impact and drive operational efficiencies within their supply chains.
Today, Target team members are proactive and passionate about empowering guests to lead more sustainable lifestyles by providing the right information, tools and incentives to make it easy.
As the final story in our Earth Month series, we talked to Target team members about how they’re committed to Target’s four areas of sustainability, including sustainable living, sustainable products, smart development and efficient operations.
What is the role of Target’s sustainable packaging team? The sustainable packaging team is comprised of packaging engineers that work on the packaging for Target’s owned brands.We have a goal set to make at least 50 owned brand packaging designs more sustainable by the end of 2016. In my mind, that is just the beginning. I’m keen to expand and challenge Target’s thinking on what we can do beyond this current goal by leveraging our strong design and collaboration competencies.
What are you doing day-to-day to advance Target’s commitment to sustainability? We are all consumers when we design our packaging. I want to encourage our team to think about how we select packaging materials, how they’re sourced, how we can design our packaging with just the right amount of materials needed and how we can make it easy for guests to manage the package when they’re finished with it.
Can you share some examples? Generally, there are a few approaches that we focus on to improve packaging. We’ll reduce the amount of materials needed through innovative design ideas, use packaging composed from recycled materials or reduce the size of our packaging to create transportation efficiencies. Recently, we reduced the size of our Wine Cube packaging and are saving more than a quarter of a million pounds of corrugated board every year!
How does sustainability influence store designs? Sustainability is woven into Target’s store design from the sites we choose to the efficiency of our building systems and the materials we specify. For example, we recently updated our site design guidelines to feature only native plants. Native plants are more drought and disease-resistant than many non-native species and require less irrigation once established, leading to less stress on the local municipal water system.
Tell us about the inspiration behind CityTarget architecture. Because many are historic buildings, much of the inspiration behind CityTarget is the architecture itself. One of the most sustainable buildings is a re-used, re-purposed historic structure. We love the challenge of respecting that history and adapting a building to create a unique Target store experience—all the while extending the life of a layered, historical structure for generations to come.
How can Target stores be more sustainable? Great question! Despite all Target is doing, there are always opportunities to do more. I’m part of a team that is developing criteria for what we call “Smart Development.” Smart Development has three main components: stewardship, convenience and community. We’re developing a scorecard to rate our stores and track the evolution of our portfolio. We feel this tool will help drive the adoption of sustainable elements in more stores.
Corporate Real Estate, Café Target Manager
Tell us about Café Target—the café for team members at Target’s Minneapolis HQ. I’ve always been very interested in doing the “right thing” in regards to sustainability. Since my role in the Café impacts thousands of team members every day, I felt it was a great opportunity to promote more sustainable initiatives in all headquarters facilities. A sustainable future for food service means flavorful food that’s healthy and economically viable for all; produced through practices that respect farmers, workers and animals; nourishes team members; and is careful with our shared natural resources for future generations.
What sustainability initiatives are you most passionate about? With almost 20,000 transactions happening in the Café daily, making a few small changes can have a huge impact. With that in mind, we’ve rolled out a number of initiatives over the past few years. One Earth Day, we handed out more than 10,000 branded coffee and water mugs to all team members with the hopes of reducing their use of paper cups… it worked! During the first year, we eliminated more than a million disposable coffee cups and three million disposable paper cups that would have ended up in the waste stream. We also rolled out a program to remove all plastic, to-go containers and flatware from headquarters in 2010. During the first year, we eliminated 1.7 tons of plastic that would have ended up in a landfill. We recently rolled this program out to the opening of our new Target Canada HQ site, and the team loves it! Another cool one, all Café’s now offer compostable flatware (made from the starch of sugar cane) and to-go containers (made from bamboo fibers) that are fully compostable and can breakdown into compost in 30 days. The program has helped us remove several tons of plastic from landfills.
Energy & Carbon Management
How does Target integrate energy efficient practices at HQ and in stores? We design our facilities to be energy efficient and operate far above industry standards. How good are we? Well, Target has committed to getting 75 percent of our buildings certified with the Energy Star label, which means that they’ll operate in the top 25 percent of energy efficiency performance as measured by the EPA. Just last month Target became the retailer with the largest number of certified buildings!
How does your job influence business operations to become more efficient? The Energy & Carbon Management team is focused on providing Target reliable electricity, gas and water in both a cost-effective and sustainable manner. By working with Target’s internal teams and outside utility partners, we help deploy the right technology at the right time, allowing us to keep Target’s energy expenses as low as possible. If we do our jobs correctly, we have a positive impact on the store and reduce our carbon footprint.
What are you doing day-to-day to advance the company’s commitment to sustainability? I’m always excited to work with Target’s Sustainability team to look at new ways to make it easier for team members and guests to make sustainable choices. Just last month at our Davis, Calif. store, the team helped Target be first to market with a next generation electric car charging station so guests can “plug in” while they’re shopping. And, as a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Energy & Greenhouse Gas committee, Target stays up-to-date on emerging legislative, regulatory and technological trends. Like retail, the energy industry continues to move incredibly fast, so it’s important for us to stay connected.