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Target Announces Corporate Responsibility Goals

Words by Leon Kaye

Its larger rival gains more publicity for its sustainability efforts, but Target holds its own when it comes to embedding corporate social responsibility (CSR) at its headquarters and stores.  Yesterday the Minnesota-based retail giant announced its corporate responsibility scorecard, with a focus on the environment, education, healthy living, and community work.

With the launch of its “Here for Good” portal, Target now provides more information to its employees and customers about healthier life decisions.  For those warehouse stores in which employees work and “guests” shop, Target promises smarter buildings.  Within those stores, Target will sell what it says are more responsible products.  Finally, Target will run a leaner operation by eliminating waste, reducing its carbon footprint, and using resources far more responsibly.

Some of goals Target has accomplished so far include:

  • The recycling of 4000 tons of shrink wrap and plastic bags in 2010.

  • Over 117 million plastic bags diverted from landfills and counting.

  • Achieved the #2 ranking on Greenpeace’s seafood scorecard.

  • Donated  a total of almost US$300 million to schools.

  • Convinced 94% of employees at its headquarters to participate in the company’s retirement plan.
As for the future, Target has set several milestones to be achieved by 2016:

  • Earn the Energy Star rating on 75% of its buildings.

  • Reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions 10% per square foot and 20% per dollar of retail sales.

  • Cut water consumption 10% per square foot.

  • Improve the energy efficiency of its transportation logistics system by 15% to 20%.

One interesting facet of Target’s CSR agenda is its safe communities initiative, the origins of which date back to almost 50 years ago.  At first it is not intuitive that a “big box” store would devote resources to the funding of pilot law enforcement programs or sponsor events like “National Night Out.”  Of course, it is in the best interest for the areas in which its stores are located to be safe.  While the reasons why crime in America has declined overall the past 15 to 20 years are open to debate, Target turns heads for tackling issues that most companies would assume leave to local governments.  The company goes beyond the usual cliched “community involvement” banter that is frequently plastered on companies’ CSR portals, and leads a bevy of programs that include doling large grants to cities like Honolulu and funding programs that build relationships between kids and cops.

In the end, developing best practices from waste diversion to improving transportation efficiency is smart business for Target.  Energy prices will increase, municipalities will charge more for hauling garbage, and customers will become even more discerning of their purchases than they are now.  Meanwhile Target’s workforce of 350,000 has got to believe they are valued stakeholders.  Target’s balance of meeting the needs of both customers, employees, towns and cities, and the environment all build a solid CSR template that other large companies, retailers or not, are wise to explore.


Leon Kaye is the Editor of GreenGoPost.com and contributes to The Guardian Sustainable Business; you can follow him on Twitter.

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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