Target Corporation, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is one of the largest “superstore” retailers in the country, with over 1,700 stores and 2011 U.S. retail sales of $68,466,000—the 3rd highest, nationally.[1] Target stores offer a wide assortment of general merchandise, including electronics and appliances, health and personal care, apparel, cleaning and paper products, home furnishings, food items, and toys. The company offers a variety of exclusive brands like Cherokee and Simply Shabby Chic, and owns a number of private-label brands including Archer Farms, Merona, Play Wonder, Room Essentials, and Target Home.[2]

With great market power comes great responsibility.

Many consumer products contain chemicals that have been linked with chronic diseases and health conditions, including cancer, reduced fertility, learning and developmental disabilities, behavioral problems, obesity, diabetes, and asthma. For example polyvinyl chloride (PVC), found in a wide variety of consumer goods and product packaging, often contains toxic additives such as lead, which can cause learning and developmental problems, and phthalates, which can cause reproductive harm.[3]

We applaud the company’s action to eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from store-brand children’s products like lunchboxes, eating utensils, and baby bibs, and the company’s efforts to reduce PVC in packaging and other products like shower curtains, table linens, and soft coolers.[4,5] Efforts like this to reduce the environmental and public health threats posed by certain toxic chemicals are so important—yet there is still much more to do!

In October of 2013, Target launched their, “Sustainable Products Standard,” a first step towards taking your concerns about toxic chemicals seriously. This incentive program will rank and score products based on the quality of ingredients, packaging, testing, and impact on water quality. The scores will be used by buyers to determine whether the product will be purchased by Target for distribution. Fifty-percent of the score is based on the chemicals used to make the product and includes a list of chemicals to avoid of over 1,000 unique chemicals. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families applauds this first step and looks forward to working with Target to make the standard stronger, apply to more product sectors and increase public transparency.

We are calling on Target to work with their suppliers to reduce, eliminate, or safely substitute the Hazardous 100+ chemicals.

What is Target doing to get tough on toxics?

PVC reduction

In 2007, Target eliminated PVC from their own brand of children’s lunchboxes and utensils, and announced they would begin to systematically reduce PVC in all products.[7]

Cadmium elimination

In 2011, Target agreed to virtually eliminate cadmium from their jewelry and accessories, as part of a legal settlement with the Center for Environmental Health.[8,9]

Ranking by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

“Shows Potential” (4 out of 10 kisses)[10]

[1] National Retailers Federation, 2012. “2012 Top 100 Retailers.”

[2] Reuters, 2012. “Profile: Target Corp

[3] Center for Environmental Health, 2007. “Target Agrees To Reduce Use of PVC, a ‘Poison Plastic.'”

[4] Center for Health Environment and Justice, 2007. “Target to Systematically Reduce Use of Toxic PVC in Infant Products, Children’s Toys, Shower Curtains, Packaging.”

[5] Center for Health Environment and Justice, 2007. “Target Systematically Reducing PVC.”

[6] Target, “Here for Good: 2011 corporate responsibility report.

[7] Center for Environmental Health, 2007. “Target Agrees To Reduce Use of PVC, a ‘Poison Plastic.'”

[8] LA Times, 2011. “Retailers settle suit over cadmium in jewelry.”

[9] Center for Environmental Health, 2011. “Settlement Ends Health Threat from Cadmium-tainted Jewelry.”

[10] Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 2012. “Retailer Therapy: Ranking retailers on their commitment to personal care product and cosmetics safety.”