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Target pushes suppliers to go green, too

UPDATED: Fri., March 29, 2019

Target says it will suppliers until 2023 to provide a plan to reduce carbon pollution at their facilities as well as from the energy they purchase to power their operations. (Tribune News Service)
Target says it will suppliers until 2023 to provide a plan to reduce carbon pollution at their facilities as well as from the energy they purchase to power their operations. (Tribune News Service)
By Jackie Crosby Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Target Corp. has announced a sweeping set of goals to reduce its carbon footprint that for the first time puts pressure on its suppliers to do the same.

The Minneapolis-based company said that 96 percent of greenhouse gas emissions related to its operations come from businesses that produce raw materials, manufacture products and transport them to stores.

Target will give its suppliers until 2023 to set forth a plan to reduce carbon pollution at their facilities as well as from the energy they purchase to power their operations. The retailer pledged to get such agreements from 80 percent of companies in its supply chain.

The suppliers’ goals, like Target Corp.’s, must align with those set by the Science Based Targets initiative. Known by the acronym SBTi, the organization helps companies take steps to support the Paris agreement, whose goal is to keep the rise in annual global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.

Target is one of more than 2,900 businesses, colleges, states and cities that have joined the “We are Still In” coalition, which was formed within hours of President Donald Trump’s announcement almost two years ago to pull America out of the accord.

“It’s vital for companies, particularly major retailers, to lower the emissions in their supply chain if they are serious about addressing their environmental impact,” Dexter Galvin of CDP Worldwide, one of SBTi’s partners, said in a statement in support of Target.

Walmart is the only other major retailer to place emissions requirements on its suppliers. Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc. is among 545 companies that have now committed to setting science-based reduction goals in the future, according to the industry publication Supply Chain Dive. Target’s latest climate goals, announced Wednesday, provide an update to those established in October 2017 in which it pledged to develop goals for its supply chain within a year. The retailer has said it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 2015 levels by 2025. New goals push that to 30 percent by 2030.

Greenhouse gases come from using electricity, heating homes and buildings and driving around town. The gases – mostly carbon dioxide and methane – trap heat in the atmosphere and make the earth warmer.

Target said it will reach its goals by increasing its use of renewable solar and wind energy at its facilities and installing energy-efficient heating and LED lights in stores. It participates in a textile industry program as well as an initiative in Vietnam that focus on clean energy and lowering water consumption. Sixty of its stores in Texas use wind power offsets. By 2020, the retailer plans to install solar panels on the rooftops of 500 stores.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain, also has been recognized for efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. More than 500 stores have now been outfitted with LED lights. The retailer has reduced its carbon pollution by 51 percent since 2009 and is on track to hit the 60 percent mark by next year.

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