Target’s Fresh Approach to Sustainable Water Includes Private Brand

Around the world, clean water sources are disappearing at an alarming rate, and it’s up to all of us to help design solutions for the future. Target’s doing its part by putting a connected framework in place—including a climate policy and chemical strategy and sustainable cotton sourcing goal—to make sure we’re using resources thoughtfully and measuring progress across the business.

Target is taking the next step forward, announcing a freshwater stewardship approach that builds on it’s existing water management goals. Created in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and designed to help us deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it will address how we can improve water quality, optimize water efficiency and increase access to clean water.

It’s based on a simple, belief:

“With operations in nearly 50 countries, Target shares the responsibility of tackling environmental issues in the communities where we do business,” said John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “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.”

Target used WWF’s water risk assessment to review it’s water use reduction efforts across the manufacturing supply chain, stores and distribution facilities. This helped the retailer develop a holistic approach that acknowledges water as part of a bigger global system of megatrends.

“Freshwater resources are more precious and vulnerable than people realize. 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,” said Sheila Bonini, senior vice president, private sector engagement at WWF. “Target’s approach provides a holistic vision to drive solutions that will bring us closer to a sustainable and water-secure future.”

The plan is ambitious, so Target will focus its efforts in four main areas where it can make the greatest impact, with initial goals to guide the progress:

These water goals connect directly into the broader sustainability framework, including the chemical strategy. For example, we recently joined the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals organization, and will use its wastewater guidelines for 2025 manufacturing goal for water. The guidelines were designed to help companies reduce hazardous chemicals in manufacturing and prevent them from being discharged in wastewater and impacting surrounding communities.

For millions around the world, access to funds stand between them and safe water in their homes, so Target is making an initial $1 million investment in Water.org. The two will work together to empower people in communities where goods are produced, enhancing their lives by removing barriers to access affordable financing for water and sanitation.

Target will continue water conservation work that’s already in progress too, like their recent efforts with Conserva Irrigation to optimize the outdoor irrigation systems at stores. This has already saved more than 36 million gallons of water and will be in place at more than 300 stores by the end of 2018.

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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.