Kohl’s: A Big Box Retailer With Green Credentials?


The department store chain Kohl’s is being recognized for its environmental efforts. In Newsweek’s Green Rankings it ranked 18th overall, out of 500 companies. In addition to the overall ranking, Newsweek ranked Kohl’s number one among retailers for having the biggest solar power program of any retailer in the world, and pursuing green building certification. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership recently awarded Kohl’s its Green Power Partner of the Year award, along with two other companies.

On the company’s website, Kohl’sGreenScene.com, it cites recycling as priority. In 2007, Kohl’s implemented a new plastic recycling program in which stores remove all plastic shipped with merchandise and return it through the company’s distribution network to be recycled into plastic pellets. The plastic pellets are then used to manufacture items such as plastic shipping totes and garbage cans. Last year, Kohl’s expanded the program to all of its stores.

Last year, Kohl’s recycled the following amounts of paper, plastic, and other materials:

  • Cardboard and Paper—95,040 tons
  • Plastic Hangers—6,401 tons
  • Plastic—1,786 tons
  • E-Waste—45 tons
  • Miscellaneous—1,850 tons

In addition to recycling, Kohl’s uses recycled content for certain items:

  • Gift Boxes—100 percent recycled content
  • Restroom Papers—100 percent recycled content
  • Merchandise Bags—20-35 percent recycled content
  • E-Commerce Shipping Cartons—34 percent recycled content
  • Advertising Paper—20.5 percent recycled content
  • Office Supplies—9.9 percent recycled content

This year, Kohl’s participated in the Mohawk Recover Program which recycled old carpet removed from 26 remodeled stores. A total of 910,000 lbs. of carpet was kept out of landfills as a result.

Energy efficiency is another priority for Kohl’s, which is a member of EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program. The program measures energy performance of stores with a score from 1 to 100, and stores with a score of 75 or higher are eligible for the ENERGY STAR label, which means they are in the top 25 percent of retail stores in country for energy performance. Commercial buildings with an ENERGY STAR label use 35 percent less energy on average and emit one-third less carbon. This month, 327 Kohl’s stores earned the ENERGY STAR label, with 65 of the stores located in California.

Sustainable building is another priority. Kohl’s is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council, and use its principles when building new stores. In 2008, Kohl’s achieved LEED pre-certification for its store prototypes. Since fall 2008, 64 stores were built on the store prototype. To date, 46 stores have earned LEED certification.

“Energy efficiency and green power are key business and environmental strategies for Kohl`s, and we continue to work to make them an integral part of building and expansion efforts,” said Ken Bonning, Kohl’s executive vice president of store planning and logistics. “Our solar program is a hallmark of our green power efforts, and we’re continuing to expand it because it demonstrates our commitment to sustainability and improving the environment directly in the communities we serve.”

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

6 responses

Leave a Reply