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Target Has Big Plans for Improving its Water Stewardship

With World Water Day coming up this Thursday, apparel brands and retailers have been announcing their plans to improve water efficiency and reduce water use in their supply chains.

Target announced its Freshwater Stewardship Approach program Monday, outlining its own plans to improve.

“With operations in nearly 50 countries, Target shares the responsibility of tackling environmental issues in the communities where we do business,” John Mulligan, Target EVP and COO, said. “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.”

For this endeavor, which Target says delivers on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the company has teamed up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), using WWF’s water-risk assessment to review its water-use and -reduction efforts across its manufacturing supply chain, stores and distribution centers.

“Challenges, such as climate change, population growth, changing consumption patterns, are putting our freshwater systems increasingly at risk, and the need for action to address these issues is abundantly clear,” Sheila Bonini, senior vice president, private sector engagement at WWF, said. “Target’s approach provides a holistic vision to drive solutions that will bring us closer to a sustainable and water-secure future.”

To advance this initiative, Target has created a water goals plan that focuses on the four main areas where it feels it can make the greatest impact: raw materials, manufacturing, direct operations and through collaborative efforts both within the company and involving partnerships with others worldwide.

Among Target’s water goals are plans to source 100 percent sustainable cotton for its brands and its exclusive national brand products by 2022. The retailer also wants to improve water efficiency in textile dyeing and finishing factories located in priority watersheds by 15 percent by 2022, and implement solutions to ensure all owned-brand apparel textile facilities comply with Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals progressive level wastewater standard. Target’s fourth water goal is to engage in worldwide partnerships across sectors, team member engagement and philanthropic investments to encourage saving water.

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The Freshwater program is just one of several sustainability efforts Target has undertaken to improve the quality of life for people in the communities where its goods are produced. In addition to its climate policy, chemical strategy and sustainable cotton sourcing goal, Target is also investing $1 million in, an organization that has provided access to safe water for 10 million people worldwide. The company is also continuing its work with Conserva Irrigation to improve efficiency in its outdoor irrigation systems, which will be in place at more than 300 stores by the end of 2018. This effort, the company says, has already saved more than 36 million gallons of water.