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Target Pledges to Swap Polyester With rPET in All Private-Label Apparel by 2020

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Target stepped up its commitment to sustainability Monday, announcing plans to leverage its size to make some big changes by 2020.

“More than ever, our guests want to know where their products come from; to be sure those products are made ethically and responsibly,” Kelly Caruso, president of Target Sourcing Services, said in a statement. “We recognize that reassuring guests isn’t enough—so we’re committing to using more sustainable resources, helping to make life better for workers and their families and protecting the environment. These efforts will also help us build resilient supply chains to support our business now and in the future.”

A three-pillar strategy anchors Target’s new responsible sourcing aspirations: improving worker well-being, achieving net-positive manufacturing and deriving key raw materials from ethical and sustainable sources.

Regarding workers, the company wants to enhance well-being and safety throughout its supply chain and eliminate any instances of forced labor by building on its past work with the likes of GoodWeave and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“It’s an ambitious challenge that will touch the lives of at least 3 million people in the factories and surrounding communities where Target’s owned-brand goods are produced,” Kelly said. “We’ll do it by opening up access to things like women’s empowerment initiatives, education and training.”

To achieve net-positive manufacturing, Target intends to introduce sustainable practices throughout its business, such as more responsible water use in its owned-brand product design and manufacturing, choosing more clean energy and reducing emissions in its supply chain and eliminating unwanted chemicals from its products and manufacturing processes. The company also plans to help communities restore and replenish their resources, such as ensuring that wastewater is safe to drink or supports aquatic life.

“This is more than just reducing Target’s footprint,” Kelly said. “It’s going beyond to restore and improve these areas for future generations. And the reality is, no single company or organization can create that kind of long-term systemic change alone—the only way to make it happen is by collaborating with suppliers, governments and NGOs across our industry.”

Finally, Target wants to source more sustainable raw materials for its owned-brand assortment by 2020. The company is aiming to advocate for responsibly grown and harvested cotton as well as replace all conventional polyester with polyester made from recycled plastic in its private-label apparel, accessories and home goods.

In addition, Target will continue to help fund research and development led by fiber innovation company Evrnu, which is working to scale its patent-pending technology that creates a regenerative supply of bio-based fiber through the renewal of cotton garment waste.

“We want our owned-brand assortment to empower our guests to have a positive social and environmental impact,” Kelly said. “By offering more sustainably-focused products, they’ll be able to choose items that help them lead better, healthier lives.”

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