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Target Pushes Suppliers to List Chemical Ingredients In Major Overhaul

Shoppers At Target Corp. Ahead Of Earnings ReportShoppers At Target Corp. Ahead Of Earnings Report
Target has stopped the pilot program that began in August. Bloomberg — Getty Images

Target (TGT) is doubling down on its efforts to win over customers who insist on green products.

The discount chain on Wednesday announced major new guidelines around chemicals in products, a change likely to push hundreds of suppliers to list ingredients in all sorts of household goods from beauty items to cleaning products.

Target’s new guidelines come at a time consumers are increasingly demanding so called “green goods,” from natural beauty products to organic food. In 2014, the retailer introduced a 17-product, multi-brand collection called “Made to Matter” that focuses on products with cleaner ingredients and expanded it in the following years. Sales in the line of what Target calls “good-for-you brands, rose 30% last year.

Four years ago, the retailer committed to increase transparency about ingredients in the products it sells. And Target isn’t alone in thinking along those lines: in July, Walmart (WMT) pushed its suppliers to eliminate controversial chemicals in some 90,000 household items.

By 2020, Targets wants full ingredient disclosure on items including major categories like beauty, baby, personal care and cleaning goods on the way to including all products eventually. Some of Target’s new guidelines include the removal of perfluorinated chemicals and flame retardants from textiles in the next five years, and eventually, listing ingredients in all products. A year and a half ago, Target expanded the list of chemicals it wanted suppliers to remove from products.

Target is hoping its clout leads other retailers to adopt similar practices.

“It’s ambitious, but using our size, scale and expertise, we think we’ll be able to make significant progress.” said Jennifer Silberman, Target’s chief sustainability officer, in a blog post.

But it’s also potentially good business. Bloomberg reported that a June report by research firm Mintel found that 66% consumers found it important to use environmentally friendly cleaning products, and 63% saw ingredients in many cleaning products as unhealthy.