Target agrees to go green on PVC issue   

Minneapolis – Responding to the urging of shareholder groups, upscale discounter Target has acknowledged that it is taking strong steps toward eliminating the use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and other toxic substances in packaging and products.

In an email communication to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ), the retailer said that its analysis of the issue has resulted in various goals and actions in what could be called a fresh policy approach.

“In recent months, we engaged an independent third party to perform a complete audit of our merchandise product and packaging so that we can begin to identify opportunities to replace those with PVC. This audit is now complete at the category level and we are developing an action plan with the third party, including identification of PVC-alternatives,” the letter said in part. “We believe that our recently initiated efforts to significantly reduce our packaging vendor base over the next 6-12 months will further support these efforts.”

Target vp communications Susan Kahn sent the email in response to Mike Schade, PVC campaign coordinator at CHEJ. Besides outlining actions on products such as children’s lunch boxes, infant bibs, and toy packaging, the Target initiatives include achieving a achieving a level of 88% PVC-free by spring 2008 in shower curtains and liners, and 96% PVC-free in placemats and table linens by spring 2008.”

The letter to Schade further stated, “We are also engaged in educating our merchandise buyers through the development and distribution of our Sustainable Products Guide. This guide includes a specific section on issues surrounding PVC. We are in the process of supplying a large amount of data around PVC to our merchants on our intranet site.”

Schade lauded the Target initiatives, and told HTT that other retailers have a mixed record. “In October 2005 Wal-Mart committed to phasing out PVC in their private-label packaging within two years,” he said, indicating that the retailer was expected to report excellent progress on that front. IKEA is another retailer that has responded strongly, while CHEJ is “working on Bed Bath & Beyond,” he said.

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