Target Corporation Case Study
Creating a More Sustainable Supply Chain
December 14, 2020
As a founding member of the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), Target Corporation stands out as one of the leading brands committed to sustainability in the apparel industry. As one of the largest U.S. retailers, Target uses its scale and scope to provide inclusive and sustainable choices to serve its guests.
“Target’s purpose is to help all families discover the joy of everyday life and being part of the Apparel Impact Institute is one of the ways that we live it, said Ivanka Mamic, Target’s vice president of responsible sourcing and sustainability, and Aii Board Member. “We partner with Aii so that not only are our suppliers able to achieve outstanding quality for Target-brand products, but also so that we can help ensure they use efficient and safe factory environments where they produce products that uplift and protect the people, communities and ecosystems along our value chain.”
The Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) identifies, funds, scales and measures proven quality solutions to accelerate positive impact in the fashion industry. At Aii, we look for scalable solutions and best practices that can be applied to the entire value chain.
“We’re committed to using resources responsibly and making our supply chain more sustainable, said Bill Foudy, Target’s svp and president of owned brand sourcing and development. “Our strategic partnership with Aii supports the realization of our goals toward scaling positive environmental impact.”
Clean by Design (CbD) is Aii’s most well-known and successful program. Originally created by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc (NRDC), it uses a “best practices” methodology to provide a collaborative and continuous improvement framework for facilities of any size, type or location to reduce their environmental footprint. With this program methodology, Aii is able to provide systematic solutions for reducing environmental impacts of textile manufacturing that is critical for Target to achieve its sustainability goals, from reducing water and energy use to properly managing chemicals and wastewater.
A Partnership Built on Trust
There are several ingredients that go into making an impact program successful. Some of those ingredients include: a knowledgeable staff that owns and outlines programmatic details, a dedicated partner company, and a team of experts on the ground who can execute the program. For the partnership between Target and Aii, there is another secret ingredient that has made their Clean by Design program partnership so successful for nearly a decade: trust.
Target was a pioneer and early investor in impact programming. They piloted their first Clean by Design program in 2011 with three mills, positioning themselves at the forefront of industry innovation and collaboration. Nearly 10 years later, Target now has four CbD programs running in 27 mills. When we spoke to the Target team about what made this partnership so successful, they emphasized the trust that had been built between their company and the Clean by Design team — first with NRDC when the Clean by Design program launched, and then later with Aii when our organization adopted the program — and that trust is what pushed their teams to keep investing time, talent and resources in the program. Everyone involved was invested in seeing the program succeed from the very beginning, making it easier to address any issues head on.
“The Clean by Design team and the Target sustainability team took this on together,” Mamic said. “We supported each other to improve and grow, making the program what it is today.”
Trust was built in a few different ways:
- The CbD team was very knowledgeable about clean production practices and offered regular training on local requirements, which impressed the mills.
- The CbD program offers peer learning workshops for mills to learn from each other and share experiences on tackling environmental challenges, creating a rare learning community in the industry.
- The program led to tangible results, both in resource allocation and cost savings. Most importantly, those results included water and energy savings. Just last year, a total of 30 mills achieved 20 percent in water savings and 12 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Aii’s partnership with Target runs deep and goes wide. We work with their team to develop the highest level of strategy, and we also dig into the weeds of program implementation tactics,” said Lewis Perkins, President of Aii. “They are a deeply valued founding partner and we trust each other to do the hard work.”
Benefits of collaboration
One of the things that makes the apparel industry so collaborative in nature is that brands share the supply chain — there is incredible overlap in the services and facilities that are used among different apparel companies. This provides a unique opportunity to create a positive impact because when one company is investing in impact programs to invest in environmental solutions, other companies also gain positive sustainability results.
In 2012, when Target extended its participation in CbD to an additional 16 mills, the team started to understand the importance of collaboration and how one company’s actions can have a positive ripple effect on the broader industry. With this realization in mind, Target became one of the founding partners of the Apparel Impact Institute in 2017, alongside Gap and PVH, as one way to stay at the forefront of industry collaboration of a shared supply chain and reach their sustainability commitments. We all know we can go faster and scale bigger when we drive impact together.
“As a member of the Aii Board of Directors, I have the privilege of seeing behind the scenes and how Aii is shaping the industry by driving impact programs. Target is a founding partner of Aii because we have believed in its mission from Day 1, and as a mass retailer, we understand our unique position to help lead when it comes to sustainable program adoption. Our goal is to continue to drive large-scale change through initiatives like Aii’s Clean by Design program, and we are invested in seeing it succeed,” Mamic said.
Although sustainability is getting more attention and experiencing growing demand among consumers, Target has been investing in this work for more than a decade and helping lead the sustainability charge in the retail sector. Target sees the need to continue scaling CbD with a collaborative approach so that a broader group of stakeholders in the industry can benefit. They have been actively involved in the conversation with the apparel industry on establishing an alliance with a shared vision of advancing responsible sourcing principles and avoiding redundant efforts.
When asked what advice they would give others considering participating in Aii programs, the Target team encouraged others not to hesitate.
“This is such a rewarding experience regardless of the size of the brand or company,” Mamic said. “Everyone in the supply chain plays a unique role in shaping the product life cycle, and we each need to do our part to contribute to the health of our planet to leave our home better for future families.”
Target作为服装行业影响力协会 (Aii) 的创始成员，是服装行业致力于可持续发展的领先品牌之一。作为美国最大的零售商之一，Target为客人提供多样化和可持续的产品选择。