Target Unveils New Sustainability Strategy

(Credit: Target)

by | Jun 23, 2021

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(Credit: Target)

Introducing what it called “a new era in sustainability for the company,” Target has launched Target Forward, a sustainability strategy that includes both new and previously announced environmental and social responsibility goals.

Target Forward encompasses three overarching commitments: to design and elevate sustainable brands, to eliminate waste, and to accelerate equity and opportunity within the company and the communities it serves.

Key goals include, but are not limited to:

  • By 2030, leading raw materials such as forest products and cotton that go into owned-brand products will be 100% recycled, regenerative, or sustainably sourced.
  • By 2040, 100% of owned-brand products will be designed for a circular future.
  • By 2040, achieve net zero GHG emissions across the enterprise (Scopes 1, 2 and 3), including setting science based targets.
  • By 2030, achieve zero waste to landfill in U.S. operations.

“We know sustainability is tied to business resiliency and growth and that our size and scale can drive change that is good for all,” Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in announcing the new strategy. “Target Forward influences every corner of our business, deepens our collaboration with our partners and builds on our past efforts to ensure a better future for generations to come.”

More and more companies are recognizing the critical link between sustainability and business strategy. 

Discussing how a wide range of companies are aligning sustainability and strategy, Knut Haanaes, Professor of Strategy and International Management at IMD, a top-ranked business school, describes the linkage this way, “Simply put, sustainability is a business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organization operates in the ecological, social and economic environment. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing such strategies foster company longevity. As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognizing the need to act on sustainability. Professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough.”

According to Haanaes, in order to address sustainability appropriately companies need to bridge two critical gaps:

  • “The knowing – doing gap” – whereas 90% of executives find sustainability to be important, according to his research, only 60% of companies incorporate sustainability in their strategy, and merely 25% have sustainability incorporated in their business model.
  • “The compliance – competitive advantage gap”: More companies are seeing sustainability as an area of competitive advantage, but it is still a minority – only 24%. 

Additional recommendations from Haanaes include:

  1. Align strategy and sustainability
  2. Compliance first, then competitive advantage 
  3. Reactive to proactive
  4. Quantify, including the business case
  5. Transparency 
  6. Engage the Board
  7. Engage your ecosystem
  8. Engage your organization broadly

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