Target unveils five new sustainable packaging goals

Among them, elimination of EPS for its owned brand product packaging, adding How2Recycle labels on its more of its packaging, and creating end-use markets for recycled materials.

etailer Target has reinforced its commitment to sustainability, announcing five new sustainable packaging goals that complement its existing product goals and look at the packages those products come in.

Says Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer Silberman, “We know our guests pay attention to packaging and its impact on the environment. When we provide them with thoughtfully designed, environmentally friendly packaging, we’re able to help them take another step toward sustainable living.”

Target’s work around sustainable packaging began in 2013 with its first packaging goal: to enhance at least 50 of its owned brand packages to be more sustainable by 2016. According to Target, it exceeded that goal, serving up 160 enhanced packaging designs that use fewer materials and more recycled content, and are recyclable themselves.

Now Target says it is thinking on a broader scale, with five new sustainable packaging goals that reflect its guests’ expectations, its business priorities, current industry challenges, and areas where Target can drive the most change.

The five new sustainable packaging goals are as follows:

1. Work to eliminate expanded polystyrene from Target owned brand packaging by 2022. Target believes polystyrene is not only a pain to recycle for guests and distribution centers, but it is also a major cause of ocean plastic contamination.  

2. Source all owned brand paper-based packaging from sustainably managed forests by 2022. This is an important part of Target’s forest products policy unveiled earlier this month, and Target will work with vendors and other partners to understand the origin of the raw materials that go into paper-based packaging to improve the sustainability of forests where timber was grown.

3. Add the How2Recycle label to all owned brand packaging by 2020. As a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Target already has the How2Recycle label on over 1,700 product packages and mailers—more than any other retailer, it says. This goal will continue Target’s momentum, and the retailer says it will look for ways to incorporate the label on more owned-brand packaging.

4. Support The Recycling Partnership’s mission to improve how more than 25% of the U.S. population recycles by 2020. As the first retailer to join The Recycling Partnership, Target says its investment will bring curbside recycling to more underserved communities. Studies show that only 53% of the U.S. population has recycling as a standard service, and even fewer have cart-based programs.

5. Create more demand for recycled packaging by creating three new end markets for recycled materials by 2020. As the recycling industry struggles with contamination and competition from the low prices of virgin plastics, Target says it will champion the cause by advancing the idea that all packaging will be recyclable one day and will join two industry efforts—The Material Recovery Facility of the Future and Beyond 34—to help.

“As a leader in design, we can use our expertise to create more sustainable packaging options for our guests and help deliver products that are both better-for-you and better for the environment,” Silberman says. “With the power of Target’s team and our scale as one of the country’s largest retailers, we hope to be a catalyst for change across the industry—aiming for the day when all packaging will be recyclable, and leading the way to a packaging-waste-free world.”

Target will report progress of its sustainable packaging goals annually in its annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report.



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