Blog > Mind the Store

Target takes serious first step to address toxic chemicals

Posted on October 14, 2013

By Lindsay Dahl, Deputy Director

(Photo credit: Fan of Retail (CC))

You spoke up, and Target listened. It was a mere nine months ago that we launched our Mind the Store campaign with the goal of working with, and moving the nation’s leading retailers towards safer products.

Target_FanOfRetailYour voice and engagement in this campaign has been part of the reason retailers have been taking concerns about toxic chemicals seriously.

Today we are celebrating another victory because Target announced an impressive first step in the Mind the Store challenge.

As you may remember, we hadn’t heard a response from Target’s leadership team for the first few months of our campaign, but recently we’ve had very productive and positive interactions with their Sustainability Team. 

Here are some of the highlights of Target’s “Sustainable Products Standard” 

  • The standard works primarily as an incentive program for the manufacturers who sell in their store. Target will systematically rank their manufacturers on how they are doing in regards to chemicals, based on the criteria below. This ranking will be housed at the Good Guide.
  • The manufacturers will be given a score, which will be used by Target’s buyers (the people who decide what to sell in their store) and will help guide their purchasing decisions.
  • The ranking of products will be based on the following criteria:
    • 50% of the score goes to the ingredients used. In order to get the full points the manufacturer cannot use any of the 1,000 unique chemicals identified by the authoritative lists here (all of these chemicals are on our Hazardous 100+ list!)
    • 20% of the score goes to transparency. This includes listing full ingredient list on product packaging or the manufacturers website. While not requiring manufacturers to do this, it is a large part of the score and will hopefully move the market towards more transparency and information for consumers.
    • 20% of the score for sustainable packaging – to receive the full points for this category the packaging must be recyclable to the majority of consumers, along with other criteria.
    • 5% of the score to no animal testing.
    • 5% of the score on having minimal impact on water quality – to receive the full points, the product cannot contain any chemicals or ingredients that are toxic to the aquatic environment.
    • The products ranked in this standard include: personal care, beauty, baby, and household cleaning.

We are pleased to see that half of the score for the product ranking focuses on the ingredients used. We carefully developed the Hazardous 100+ list based on the leading authoritative lists on toxic chemicals. We are encouraged to see the Target “red list” of chemicals to avoid are all on the Hazardous 100+. In addition, we’re also pleased to see Target describe this as a “first step.”

While we recognize that taking action on toxic chemicals from the retailer’s perspective is not an easy task, we find a few areas for improvement for Target’s Sustainable Products Standard.

A few areas for improvement:

  • The score that product manufacturers receive as part of this standard is not available to the public. This ranking is primarily used as a business-to-business tool, but we recognize that currently the public has little to no access to information on chemicals in products, and are hungry for this kind of information.
  • Target will be adding other product categories over time (good), but won’t start to use this standard on cosmetics until 2014.
  • Target hasn’t publicly stated how they will measure success from this program. We would like to work with Target to create a public, long-term goal by which we can assess if the standard is moving products away from toxic ingredients.

All in all, we think this is an important first step for Target in moving the market towards safer products. We applaud Target for creating this standard and look forward to working with them overtime to hone and expand this standard. 

Please take a moment to thank Target for their first step towards Minding the Store.

Tweet: Thank you @Target for taking a big step to address toxic chemicals! #MindtheStore Learn more:

Facebook: Target took a major step to move the market away from toxic chemicals – thank you! Learn more about their Sustainable Products Standard here: #MindtheStore

Or you can send Target a personal message.

Wonder how this program compares to Walmart’s recent announcement? Stay tuned for an analysis from our team of experts.

  • Our statement on Target's new standard.
  • Read Target’s new standard here

Thank you for taking action and a big thanks to our many coalition partners! 


Will products like coffee and chocolate get a lower score if they aren't fair trade???

Posted by: Laurie | Oct 19, 2013 5:55:54 PM

Thank you so much for hearing our message and caring about consumers!

Posted by: Shane@EnviroBooty | Oct 17, 2013 2:25:23 PM

Thanks for listening to us.

Posted by: Tessa Nielson | Oct 16, 2013 4:50:47 AM

Thank you for listening to us.

Posted by: Tessa | Oct 16, 2013 4:49:35 AM

Thank you target for getting rid of toxic chemicals

Posted by: Marian | Oct 16, 2013 4:28:52 AM

Thank you TARGET.

Posted by: Cheryl Mogensen | Oct 15, 2013 3:27:01 PM

Thank you TARGET.

Posted by: Cheryl Mogensen | Oct 15, 2013 3:26:39 PM

A great proactive step for Target to start defining the new industry standard. This will also help the company get a head start in complying with California's Safer Consumer Product Regulations; we at EcoValuate help make compliance achievable and accessible for anyone looking to replace potentially problematic ingredients with safer alternatives.

Posted by: Joanna Malaczynski | Oct 15, 2013 11:26:18 AM

Thank you for taking a step in the right direction. I seriously hope you and all stores ban all GAIN and FEBREZE products especially within laundry products, as well as, Bounce and Downy as they are offensive in scent and harmful to people who are sensitive and have allergies. We should not be forced to breathe products that are offensive in smell and to some people's health!
We appreciate what you are doing! Thank you!

Posted by: Theresa | Oct 15, 2013 6:32:00 AM

Finally something good to hear!!

Posted by: karine | Oct 15, 2013 12:35:14 AM

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