We are committed to taking steps to expand our understanding of what is feasible for our business model over the short, medium, and longer term to manage “chemicals of concern” in our operations as well as the products we sell. Our Vendor Code of Conduct requires our merchandise vendors, at a minimum, to act in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations when manufacturing products to be sold by TJX, including laws and regulations concerning chemicals in products. Acceptance of our Vendor Code of Conduct is part of our purchase order terms and conditions for our merchandise vendors.
In the past two years, we have increased our focus in this area in a significant way, and as we evolve our approach, we are exploring how to implement chemicals management efforts that go beyond legal and regulatory requirements. We operate a large, complex, international business, and, consistent with other corporate responsibility initiatives, we intend to focus our practices in areas where we believe we can have a meaningful impact.
Oversight of the development of our chemicals management strategy and policy is led by our Senior Vice President, Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, and our Vice President, Sustainability, who report on our environmental sustainability strategies and progress to the Board of Directors as appropriate. Our Board of Directors also receives periodic written updates on our corporate responsibility program. We have increased our internal capacity and knowledge regarding chemicals of concern and involved many functions within our business, including Environmental Sustainability, Global Social Compliance, Product Development, Buying, Store Operations, Product Compliance, Global Sourcing and Procurement, and Legal. Going forward, members of these departments plan to continue to work together to develop commitments and tactics that demonstrate the Company’s ongoing progress around chemicals management.
Our Global Environmental Sustainability Committee (GESC), a team of subject matter experts from each of our major geographies who lead the strategic direction of our sustainability program, has established “Chemicals Management” as a strategic priority and assigned a sub-committee to lead the assessment of potential areas to limit chemicals of concern across our global business.
CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT POLICIES UNDER DEVELOPMENT
We are in the process of developing policies limiting chemicals of concern in certain products we sell and in our operations that are appropriate for our highly complex off-price business model and plan to publish these policies on our Corporate Responsibility website beginning in late 2021.
As we work towards that goal, we are utilizing the framework of the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP) and are currently undertaking a review of the Management Strategy section of the CFP survey in order to review relevant industry focus areas for our policies development.
We have also identified priority areas where TJX can take immediate action to help address chemicals of concern. These areas include certain areas of our business operations and certain categories of merchandise and product packaging. We also intend to collaborate with others in the industry as well as outside experts.
What follows are steps we have undertaken within our business that we intend to continue to pursue in the short term while also considering our approach to advancing our policy development efforts in the medium and longer term.
INITIATIVES WITHIN OUR BUSINESS OPERATIONS
TJX is in the process of switching our register receipts across all U.S. retail brands to phenol-free paper in 2021, effectively eliminating these chemicals of concern in our register receipts.
We are also planning to switch out compostable serve-ware in our U.S. Corporate office cafeterias so that the compostable serve-ware we use is free of PFAS chemicals.
MERCHANDISE AND PACKAGING INITIATIVES
The U.S. Sustainable Packaging Committee, which is a cross-functional team comprised of Associates from different areas of our business, has identified potential opportunities for shifting to more sustainable packaging solutions for certain of our products, including select paper and paperboard materials as well as alternatives for packaging made from “problematic plastics.”
By 2025, we are working to eliminate PVC from the packaging of certain top-of-bed products that are designed by our own fashion and style experts or manufactured just for us.
When evaluating opportunities in the marketplace, our merchants sometimes source products that meet credible, third-party standards that limit the use of certain chemicals at various stages of the processing and manufacturing process, such as products with certifications such as Environmental Working Group (EWG), OEKO-TEX, Leather Working Group (LWG), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and Global Recycled Standard (GRS).
INDUSTRY AND EXPERT COLLABORATION
We have joined the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) for external industry collaboration in the area of chemical management. The mission of GC3 is to promote safer chemicals, materials, and products across retail supply and value chains.
We have joined Closed Loop Partners’ Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, as the Apparel Sector Lead Partner. The Consortium’s Beyond the Bag Initiative convenes leading retailers, aiming to identify, test, and implement viable design solutions and models that more sustainably serve the purpose of the current retail bag. We believe that the innovative solutions resulting from this effort could benefit the environment in many ways and could ultimately help enable a solution that uses innovative materials and an efficient collection system and be implemented at a scale that could limit the amount of plastic waste generated from retail point-of-sale bags, and associated harmful chemicals, from entering the environment.
We have engaged an outside expert to conduct a landscape review of chemicals management for certain personal care products. This includes peer benchmarking, a review of credible third-party certifications, and an overview of chemicals of concern in these products. This outside expert is also helping TJX chart a path for improved chemicals management by leveraging the common framework designed by the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP).
Leaders within our global Environmental Sustainability team have engaged with some of our larger merchandise vendors and other large retailers to discuss their chemical management plans and actions. These discussions have helped to increase our knowledge of strategies and implementation tools related to management of chemicals of concern.
We believe that over time, our efforts in this area can lead us to solutions that best serve our customers, stakeholders, and our business overall.