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Target Launches Initiative to Increase Product Sustainability

Business

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Target has a new initiative to encourage its manufacturers to make their products more sustainable. 

The company announced that it will start using the Target Sustainable Product Standard this month to "help establish a common language, definition and process for qualifying what makes a product more sustainable."

Target spent two years developing the standard, working with vendors like Seventh Generation and non-governmental organizations like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. Target will use GoodGuide's UL Transparency Platform and vendor assessments to evaluate 7,500 household, personal, beauty and baby care products.

Target will assign as many as 100 points to products, based on the sustainability, transparency and environmental impact of its ingredients.

“Currently, there is no widely accepted industry standard by which vendors and retailers can judge the environmental impact and sustainability of products,” GoodGuide co-founder and chief sustainability officer Dara O’Rourke said. "Target will help push the industry toward consensus on what sustainable standards should be and create incentives for innovation in this highly competitive space, ultimately broadening the sustainable product selection for their guests.”

Target's standard is, in part, a response to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families' "Mind the Store" challenge, in which consumers encouraged the nation's largest retailers to become serious about selling products with fewer toxic chemicals. A coalition blog post approves of Target's list of 1,000 chemicals that manufacturers can't use if they want to earn points in the ingredients category. All of those chemicals are also on the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families' Hazardous 100 list.

"We are pleased to see that half of the score for the product ranking focuses on the ingredients used," the post reads. " In addition, we’re also pleased to see Target describe this as a 'first step.'"

The coalition admonished that Target will wait until 2014 to use a similar standard for cosmetics. While Target said the standard will lead to more transparency and better inform its merchandising, the scores will not be made public, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families pointed out. However, those that get high scores will likely publicize them and influence consumer decisions.

"We know more and more Target guests want greater transparency about the ingredients in the products that they’re purchasing," Seventh Generation President and CEO John Replogle said. "This tool will help us showcase the authenticity of our products while pushing for industry-wide clarity around what really makes a product sustainable.”

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