Target's big new eco-friendly goal: Protect the world's forests

Target has a plan to get products only from sustainable forests.
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In a boost to its environmental credentials, Target has pledged to source all of its wood-based products from "well-managed" forests by the end of 2022.

The Minneapolis-based retailer released details of its forest products policy on Monday, which lays out its long-term plans to source wood, paper, paper-based packaging and wood-based fiber used in its own Target-brand products from either recycled materials or "well-managed and credibly certified" forests.

Target's timeline? The next seven years, with Spritz expected to be compliant by the end of 2018; Up&Up, Pillowfort and Cat & Jack by the end of 2020; and Threshold and Smith & Hawken by 2022.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, forests play a "critical role" in mitigating the risk of climate change because they soak up carbon dioxide that would otherwise make its way into the atmosphere. But deforestation is harming efforts to fight global warming.

The fund says deforestation contributes to 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, with the equivalent of 48 football fields-worth of trees felled every minute.

This effort fits under Target's responsible sourcing efforts, which includes goals like eliminating forced labor, optimizing water usage, and supporting sustainably managed forests. Earlier this year Target announced a similar goal of "full visibility" when it comes to ingredients in products it sells and uses.

What Target will do

Target will be looking for suppliers whose forests are managed responsibly so the retailer avoids "contributing to deforestation or forest degradation."

This means it won't take timber/wood products from forest operations that are harming conservation efforts, from forests that are being converted into plantations or non-forest use, or from those using genetically-modified trees.

Forests with records of harvesting in violation of traditional or civil rights, or having engaged in illegally harvested and traded timber, will also be banned from its supply list.

The reason the program will take seven years, the company says, is because it will take time working with its partners to find out the origin of all its raw materials and improve the sustainability of the forests that are supplying the goods.

The first products likely to change to sustainable materials include tissues, paper towels, wrapping paper and furniture components.

Tackling deforestation

Target says it's the second "major step" the company has taken in the past few years to reduce the impact on deforestation in its supply chain. The first was a decision taken in 2015 to start getting its palm oil products from sustainable sources.

It says that in the future, it's looking to implement similar restrictions on those supplying beef and soy products, so it can have "as little negative impact on the world's forests as we can."

"Target is proud of our commitment to sustainability and healthy communities," Kelly Caruso, president of Target Sourcing Service, said in a press release. "We believe this policy is an important step in our journey as a responsible corporate citizen."

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Target outlines new corporate responsibility goals

The Minneapolis-based retailer outlined four new initiatives in a report released Monday. Among the goals, Target plans to make packaging of at least 50 of its owned-brand products more sustainable and offer only "sustainable and traceable" seafood. Twin Cities Business reports the Minnesota company also wants to boost the percentage of employees enrolled in its health plan who are tested for diabetes and invest in literacy pilot programs to improve reading proficiency in the U.S.