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Target commits to sustainable water management

By Giacomo Lee 21 Mar 2018 (Last Updated March 21st, 2018 10:59)

US department store retailer Target Corp has pledged to improve water quality, optimise water efficiency and increase access to clean water – and introduced four new goals to guide the way.

Target commits to sustainable water management

US department store retailer Target Corp has pledged to improve water quality, optimise water efficiency and increase access to clean water – and introduced four new goals to guide the way.

The announcement, which comes ahead of World Water Day tomorrow (22 March), sees Target build on its existing water management aspirations. The Minneapolis-based retailer has partnered with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the new approach, which it says is designed to help it deliver on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

As part of the collaboration the retailer used the WWF’s water risk assessment to review its water use reduction efforts across its manufacturing supply chain, stores and distribution facilities. Target says the move helped it develop a holistic approach that acknowledges water as part of a bigger global system of megatrends.

“With operations in nearly 50 countries, Target shares the responsibility of tackling environmental issues in the communities where we do business,” says John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Our freshwater approach is one way we’re putting the needs of people, communities and the planet at the heart of how we work today, to help build a better tomorrow.”

The retailer says it will focus its efforts in four main areas where it says it can make the greatest impact, with initial goals to guide its progress. These include:

  • Raw materials

Goal: By 2022: Source 100% sustainable cotton for its owned brand and exclusive national brand products.

  • Manufacturing

Goal: By 2020: Improve water efficiency in textile dyeing and finishing factories located in primary watersheds by 15%.

Goal: By 2025: Design 100% of garment washed owned-brand apparel utilising water saving design principles.

Goal: By 2025: All owned-brand apparel textile facilities comply with Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Progressive level wastewater standard.

  • Direct Operations

Goal: By 2025: 15% absolute water reduction for stores, distribution centres, and headquarters locations (baseline 2010).

Goal: Over the next 24 months: Seek to understand Target’s position on water quality within its US building operations.

  • Beyond the fenceline

“We’ll work with others around the world to encourage progress in the areas above and beyond our own business and operations, through cross-sector partnerships, team member engagement, philanthropic investments and more.

Target says the water goals connect directly into its broader sustainability framework, including its chemical strategy. The retailer recently joined the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals organisation, and will use its wastewater guidelines for its 2025 manufacturing goal for water.

Meanwhile, Target says it will make an initial US$1m investment in, which claims to have empowered 10m people with access to safe water and sanitation through affordable financing.

The retailer will also continue its efforts with Conserva Irrigation to optimise the outdoor irrigation systems at its stores. Its efforts have already saved more than 36m gallons of water, and will be rolled out at more than 300 stores by the end of 2018.

Earlier this month, Target outlined a series of initiatives as part of its multi-year strategy and launched a denim recycling pilot programme with German company I:Collect (I:CO), which specialises in collecting, recycling and reusing clothing, shoes and textiles.

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