Healthy communities start with a healthy environment. At Kohl's, we believe that incorporating sustainable solutions in the way we do business will help to build better futures for families. With such a large retail footprint, we are in a unique position to make positive impacts on the planet and have set goals and policies to ensure that impact is forward-looking. The company’s sustainability strategy is guided by leveraging business practices and decisions that enhance the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
From our Leaders
“At Kohl's we are committed to being a responsible corporate citizen, making our communities stronger by supporting initiatives and organizations that focus on health and wellness, sustainability, and environmental efforts that benefit all families.” - Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief executive officer.
"We are committed to seeking solutions that encourage long term sustainability to ensure Kohl's is able to leave a smaller footprint on our world today including the Paris Agreement, which will create a more sustainable tomorrow for our associates, customers and their families.” - Steve Thomas, Kohl's Chief Risk & Compliance Officer
Board oversight of our ESG strategy is essential to sustain the long-term interests of all stakeholders. In 2021, we updated our Nominating and Governance Committee to address the board's oversight responsibilities related to the management and performance of ESG issues. In addition to changing the committee name to Nominating and ESG Committee, corresponding updates to the committee charter were also made. Additionally, beginning in 2020, we established criteria within our chief executive officer’s (CEO) performance evaluation objectives that are tied to our environmental performance, including promoting an effective sustainability agenda.
To learn more about Kohl's commitment to sustainability, view our 2020 ESG Report and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) page. You can also find more information about what's new at Kohl's in Sustainability and across the company by visiting our News Archive.
Kohl’s sustainability goals include quantitative targets focused on three key areas: climate action, waste and recycling and sustainable sourcing. The company’s sustainability strategy is guided by leveraging business practices and decisions that enhance the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The company is committed to monitoring and reporting performance and progress against these goals within the company’s annual ESG Report. *Goal progress is updated as of year end FY2020 unless otherwise noted.
Our climate action goals are focused on the reduction of greenhouse emissions and increase of renewable energy use.
- Reduce combined scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions in Kohl’s-owned operations by 50% versus 2014 baseline by 2025.
- Progress: 50% reduction in scope 1 and 2. As of CY2020
- Note: Greenhouse gas emissions during 2020 were significantly lower than a typical year due to COVID-19 disruptions.
- Reduce energy consumption by 30% at Kohl’s facilities by 2025 versus 2008 baseline.
- Progress: 39% reduction in energy consumption since 2008
- Note: Energy consumption during 2020 was significantly lower than a typical year since COVID-19 disruptions resulted in temporary building closures and reduced occupancy for much of the year.
- Expand renewable energy platforms by building off the company’s existing 161 solar and wind locations.
- Progress: 164 solar and wind locations
- Support the transition to a low-carbon transportation system, building off of the company’s existing 96 locations offering electrical vehicle charging.
- Progress: 130+ locations offer EV charging. *As of Nov 2021
- Progress: 130+ locations offer EV charging. *As of Nov 2021
Waste and Recycling
Our waste and recycling goals are focused on the management of all wastes, reducing waste generation and promoting relevant recycling information to customers.
- Divert 85% of Kohl’s U.S. operational waste from landfills by the end of 2025.
- Progress: 85% of waste was diverted from landfills. *As of CY2020
- Label 100% of Kohl’s-owned branded packaging with the How2Recycle® label by 2025.
- 95% of shipping bags and boxes
- 100% of in-store shopping bags
- 100% of private/exclusive shoe boxes
- Reduce the amount of plastic and cardboard in Kohl’s-owned branded packaging.
- We continue to reduce the amount of packaging we use by eliminating duplicative elements and evaluating size.
Our sustainable sourcing goals are focused on the efficient use of natural resources and environmentally sound management of chemicals within Kohl’s owned branded products.
- Achieve 100% sustainably sourced cotton for Kohl’s proprietary brands by 2025.
- Progress: 18% of cotton was sustainably sourced
- Achieve 50% of products containing polyester to be made with recycled materials in Kohl’s proprietary brands by 2025.
- Progress: 5.7% of polyester was sustainably sourced
- Require all approved facilities producing Kohl’s private- and exclusive-branded products to complete the Higg Index Environmental Module by 2025.
- Progress: 80% of facilities have completed the Higg Index Environmental Module
- Utilizing the Higg Index, drive substantial water reduction use in the production of Kohl’s-owned branded products by 2025.
- Emphasize the elimination and reduction of chemicals in Kohl’s-owned brand products and strive for a zero-discharge supply chain of hazardous chemicals, building off of the company’s existing chemical sustainability program.
- Our Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) is now aligned with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) MRSL.
- 100% of our core proprietary brand towels and sheets are MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX®.
- Our Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL) is now aligned with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) MRSL.
Climate Change: We integrate climate-related issues into our annual risk assessments. The Chief Risk and Compliance Officer is responsible for overseeing our Climate Change strategy and the Board of Directors reviews our progress on addressing climate-related risks at least annually. Risks related to the transition to a lower-carbon economy include carbon pricing along with heightened policies and legislation for emission reporting. In addition to these transition risks, we also see firsthand how physical risks related to climate change affect our business. Unusual and potentially long-term shifts in climate patterns such as rising temperatures, storm intensity and rising sea levels can shift consumer shopping patterns and cause physical damage to our properties as well as to the communities we operate in.
We are committed to managing climate risks and are taking action. We demonstrated our support for action on climate change and for The Paris Agreement by signing the American Business Act Pledge on Climate Change in 2015. Kohl's climate action goals are focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increase of renewable energy use. These goals support SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 13 Climate Action.
Leadership-Level CDP Ranking: Since 2007, we have disclosed emissions data to CDP. Our CDP Climate Change response includes detailed information on our strategy and performance, enabling us to measure and manage our environmental impacts. As a result of our continuing efforts, we were awarded CDP’s A- ranking in 2021. This is the third consecutive year we have been recognized at the CDP’s Leadership Level, demonstrating a significant acknowledgment of our continued commitment to climate action.
Science Based Targets Initiative: In July 2021, we strengthened our climate leadership by joining the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Through SBTi, we have committed to align our Greenhouse Gas reduction targets with climate science and the core commitment of the Paris Agreement. Since 2007, we have set emission goals through our CDP reporting and in 2019 we announced our goals publicly. Over the next two years, we will work with SBTi to set our new science-based emission reduction targets.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Our greenhouse gas emissions are regularly audited and data is third-party verified annually to the International Organization for Standardization 14064-3:2019. For more information on our emissions view our 2020 ESG Report.
Energy Efficiency: We have the power to make a significant impact with the right energy solutions. As a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge, we reached our goal of 20% energy reduction by 2020 two years early, achieving a total of 24% reduction based on a 2008 baseline at the end of 2018. We are one of only three retailers to become a Better Building Challenge Achiever. Kohl’s was also highlighted in the 2021 Better Buildings Progress Report showcasing our leadership managing the energy performance of our buildings.
2020 Goal Achieved: Reduce energy consumption by 20% at Kohl’s facilities by 2020 versus a 2008 baseline.
2025 Goal: Reduce energy consumption by 30% at Kohl’s facilities by 2025 versus a 2008 baseline.
- EPA ENERGY STAR®: Our cooperating partnership with the EPA ENERGY STAR program has remained consistent since 1998. We rely on the EPA ENERGY STAR® program for emerging tools and technical information to protect the climate and improve efficiency. The program helps us continually assess building performance and set future goals. We were selected as a 2021 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year winner for Sustained Excellence, for the 10th consecutive year. An honor reserved for ENERGY STAR partners demonstrating outstanding leadership, year over year. As of 2020, more than 90% of our stores are ENERGY STAR®-certified, including two stores newly certified in the calendar year. Commercial buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR® label use, on average, 35% less energy than similar buildings and generate one-third less carbon dioxide. Beyond the buildings themselves, ENERGY STAR®-rated equipment and appliances like refrigerators, copy machines, televisions, and computers are used to help reduce energy consumption and affect our carbon footprint.
- Lighting and HVAC Upgrades: To further increase energy efficiency at all stores, we installed central energy management systems that operate most of the interior and exterior lighting and heating and cooling systems. Light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures light the way at many of our locations. We continue to retrofit stores with high-efficiency lighting to reduce emissions and save electricity. In 2020, we converted more than 45 stores to LED, which will save more than 10 million kWh per year. Additionally, 73 stores received an HVAC system replacement for optimum efficiency.
Renewable Energy: With over 50 MW of solar energy installed, we are among the leading retailers who are increasingly turning to solar to power their operations. Using renewable clean energy mitigates risks to the planet and our communities while conserving natural resources. Illustrating our commitment to leveraging renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit, we have been an active member of EPA’s Green Power Partnership since 2006 and have been named on EPA’s Green Power Top 30 Retail list since 2014. We are also proud to be ranked as one of the Top 25 Corporate Users by Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) for our continued prioritization of onsite solar installations. We continue to explore renewable energy projects both on and off-site.
In 2020, an estimated 60,736 MWh of solar energy was used, meaning more than 7% of the electricity we used to power our business came from renewable sources. Many of our stores get up to 50% of their energy from solar. We currently host 163 solar arrays around the country totaling more than 200,000 solar panels and 9 solar trees. Solar trees track the sun and rotate throughout the day, allowing each solar tree to potentially generate between 25,000 to 35,000 kilowatt-hours of power annually. They are equipped with EV charging stations and one solar tree could generate enough power to charge six electric vehicles daily. Each solar tree shades six parking spaces, providing shade-cooled parking spots for associates and guests. Additionally, there are two wind turbines installed at our Findlay, Ohio distribution center. The solar trees and wind turbines are a visible statement of our commitment to energy efficiency.
We also maintain a commitment to renewable energy use through the purchase and production of renewable energy credits (RECs). In 2020, we secured RECs totaling approximately 73,820 MWh, including 24,240 MWh from our on-site solar arrays where we retain or own the RECs. These RECs resulted in the offset of 24,841 metric tons of carbon.
2025 Goal: Expand renewable energy platforms by building off the company's existing 161 solar and wind locations.
Electric Vehicle Charging: As we work to reduce our environmental footprint, we want to enable our customers to do the same. Since 2011, we have helped families play their part in lowering carbon emissions by providing electric vehicle charging stations at select stores and corporate offices. We currently have more than 290 electric vehicle charging spots spread across more than 120 locations. These stations provide more than 36,500 charging sessions per year to our customers and associates. These numbers have a cumulative effect on the air we breathe. By maintaining our solidarity with electric vehicle owners, the charging we provide powers nearly 275,000 miles of driving and saves more than 12,000 gallons of gasoline annually.
2025 Goal: Support the transition to a low-carbon transportation system, building off of the company’s existing 96 locations offering electrical vehicle charging.
Providing families with the products they love requires a complex network of shipping logistics. The global supply chain network is also an opportunity to work towards sustainable outcomes and continue to build upon our environmental performance. By saving miles, reducing packaging and being ultra efficient with the way we supply our stores, we strive to contribute to a more sustainable future and are committed to improving environmental performance.
Kohl’s Fleet: Our fleet is managed by vendor partners who are held to high standards through vetting and studying their sustainable practices.
We are a shipper partner of the U.S. EPA SmartWay® Transport Program. SmartWay® Partners share a vision to move materials, supplies and goods in ways that protect the environment, enhance our nation’s energy security and foster economic vitality. EPA SmartWay membership is both sought after and encouraged for all vendors. In 2020, 100% of our domestic miles were with SmartWay members. Our transportation data is constantly analyzed to uncover heightened efficiencies while reporting back to the EPA. SmartWay tools are used to measure our emissions footprint and find ways to reduce fuel costs. This analysis allowed us to reduce more than one million highway miles needed to serve our customers in 2020.
We are proud to have been honored with the EPA 2020 SmartWay® Excellence Award. This marks the fifth time we have been recognized for our leadership in environmental performance and freight supply chain efficiency. We are one of 17 shipper and logistics companies to receive this distinction in 2020, representing the best environmental performers of SmartWay’s 3,700 partners. Our exceptional performance moving goods in the cleanest and most energy-efficient way possible ultimately leads to cleaner and healthier communities.
Fleet Performance: To cut down on air emissions, we continually work to improve the environmental performance of our fleet.
- Drop-and-Hook: Idle time for trucks is drastically reduced by utilizing drop-and-hook methods at the origin and destination of shipments. Currently, we have more than 50% of our truckload freight operating with this technique. Our fleet is nearly 100% drop-and-hook at store destinations.
- California Air Resources Board: Our California fleet is compliant with California Air Resources Board, all tires are low rolling resistant, and all required trailers have airfoils installed in the undercarriage.
- Rail: We also rely heavily on rail transport. Current rail usage stands at more than 45% of truckload freight. On average, rail uses 75% fewer carbon emissions than an average truckload delivery.
Kohl’s chooses to work with transportation vendors with an eye on the future. Emerging technologies will make future fleets more efficient. Already, several Kohl’s carriers have placed orders for hydrogen fuel cell trucks, electric trucks and high-performance diesel trucks. The proliferation of air foils, trailer skirting, rear foils, cab air flow diverters and wheel covers are making the Kohl’s fleet more efficient every day.
Kohl’s Ocean Carriers are engaged through membership in the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Clean Cargo Working Group. More than 97% of our cargo travels on a BSR ship providing up-to-date emissions data in order to gain a deeper understanding of our supply chain footprint. Our carriers belong to environmental programs that benchmark sustainability goals.
Kohl’s is proud to partner with carrier brands who actively promote sustainability efforts and who volunteer for membership in associations whose missions reflect the care we have toward the environment.
Expeditors: Expeditors are a group of carriers who share a concern for transparency, freight transportation efficiency and the mitigation of harmful greenhouse gases from our business. This group belongs to SmartWay, Transporte, Limpio, Clean Cargo Working Group and Washington Business for Climate Action.
Evergreen: Evergreen Marine Corp. launched green bonds to raise capital for green initiatives. These bonds will fund improved energy efficiencies, preventing and controlling pollution, and sustainable environmental development for all its operations.
Orient Overseas Container Line: Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) provides an online carbon calculator to assist Kohl’s in measuring carbon dioxide emissions. New vessels on this line have the distinction of being 45% less than the International Maritime Bureau baseline for the Energy Efficiency Design Index and operate 20% more fuel efficient than similar size vessels. OOCL maintains membership in World Wildlife Fund, Climate Change Business Forum, and Clean Cargo Working Group, which were all voluntarily joined. They also hold Qualship 21 certification from the U.S. Coast Guard, the most rigid safety and environmental standards in the world for non-U.S. flagged vessels.
We are committed to the management of all wastes, reducing waste generation, and promoting relevant recycling information to customers and associates. Kohl’s has been a voluntary partner and active participant of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program since 2006, an organization that helps businesses apply sustainable materials management practices. We are a recognized leader in waste management by WasteWise, and we were honored with WasteWise’s 2021 Regional award and 2020 National award for excellence in waste management, leading a large business in its practice of preventing waste and promoting recycling in order to achieve both environmental and economic benefits.
Waste and Recycling Goals
Kohl's waste and recycling goals are focused on the management of all wastes, while also reducing waste generation and promoting relevant recycling information to customers. These goals support SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production.
- 2025 Goal: Divert 85%of Kohl’s U.S. operational waste from landfills by the end of 2025.
Waste Policy: Our solid waste management policy governs how we manage waste and recycle in store and at our corporate facilities. The separation of cardboard, paper, and plastic is a key company-wide practice, and the disposal of consumables and durable goods has the goal of recycling as much material as possible.
Kohl's regulated materials management program ensures our stores, distribution centers, e-fulfillment centers and corporate offices comply with federal and state environmental regulations and in turn helps to provide a safe and healthy environment for our customers and associates. Kohl’s requires our waste disposal vendors comply with applicable laws and maintain industry standards in the treatment, disposal or repurposing of all hazardous and non-hazardous waste to ensure that they properly manage chemical risks.
Every Kohl's location has an area dedicated to properly handling regulated materials like cleaning chemicals, batteries, light bulbs, aerosol cans, paints and sharps. Additionally, select categories of unsalable beauty products are diverted from landfills and repurposed into paints, floor cleaners and deodorizing sprays.
Kohl’s has implemented an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Information Management System (IMS) for all stores and distribution centers. This EHS data visualization platform records data for safety and environmental compliance, training compliance and overall performance compliance. This system allows us to be able to consolidate the various data sources that are monitored within our operations, effectively manage inspections and upcoming permit expiration, organize documents by assets, and create simple and actionable data representation in various formats. In partnership with Kohl's Environmental Consultants, Kohl's conducts quarterly reviews of the IMS and EHS data to ensure its continued suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness. Reviews are conducted by a cross-functional team and cover audit results, communications, KPIs, and progress against objectives and targets.
Waste Diversion: Through initiatives such as plastic and cardboard recycling, and beauty product and fabric scrap repurposing, we achieved an 85% diversion rate in 2020. Our associates and customers play a key role as we work to increase our diversion rate. We ensure teams are equipped to take action with training opportunities, regular and strategic communication on our recycling commitments, and rewards for high-performing locations. Our customers are provided with recycling resources in our stores and can opt for paperless receipts and credit statements.
Plastic Recycling & Reduction:
In 2014, we developed partnerships to help us recycle plastic film, bags and wrap. In 2020, we recycled more than four million pounds of plastic film, bags, and wrap.
When a customer leaves our store, the bags they’re holding are made from 30-50% recycled, unbleached plastic. Customers can also drop plastic bags in the in-store recycling bins and leave their hangers with us to reuse and recycle. Our stores in select markets have eliminated the use of plastic bags at checkout and now offer paper bags. While our plastic bags are fully recyclable through our store take-back program, paper bags can be recycled in customers’ curbside bins. Customers can find out how to recycle their bags by referencing the How2Recycle® label on each of our bags.
In 2020, we made it even easier for customers to cut back on their plastic waste by offering reusable bags for sale in all stores. Our reusable bags will be updated quarterly with new prints to excite and engage our customers into becoming more sustainable.
In 2019, we stopped selling all plastic water bottles at corporate and credit food-service locations and vending machines, eliminating 150,000 plastic bottles annually. Associates are encouraged to use reusable water bottles. Filtered water and ice water stations in each building are available, and most beverage vendors offer aluminum substitutes.
Beauty Product Repurposing:
Materials that were once destined for landfill now find a second life. Some beauty products, which may include fragrance testers, nail polish and soaps are recycled into paints, floor cleaners and deodorizing sprays.
The business of influencing fashion yields thousands of fabric scraps. Associates in fabric-cutting locations are sorting scraps and recycling them. Depending on the scrap size and design print, material is reused or turned into things like building or automobile insulation. In 2020, we recycled 177 pounds of fabric scraps from our New York and Milwaukee locations.
We also reduce waste by reminding Kohl’s cardholders they can opt for paperless billing. Since 2014, we have issued more than 300 million electronic credit card statements. More than one-third of all cardholders now receive their statements electronically. Additionally, all customers can opt into receiving e-receipts when they shop in store at Kohl’s. To learn how to opt into paperless billing visit kohls.com.
Product packaging can have a significant impact on the environment, and we are taking steps to reduce our impact. Starting at the design stage, we consider the entire lifecycle of a package and incorporate sustainable solutions whenever possible. We strongly encourage our suppliers to offer recyclable, recycled or reusable materials and we have a bias towards sourcing those materials. We improved our product packaging and print production process, transitioning towards the use of certified paper on private and exclusive brands. We continue to reduce the amount of packaging we use by eliminating duplicative elements and evaluating size and paperweight. Our merchant and logistics teams are working to reduce the amount of packaging used for each shipment of product to our stores and distribution centers. This effort also helps control costs by requiring less handling during the shipping process
As an active member of How2Recycle®, we empower our customers to recycle our packaging correctly. How2Recycle provides a standardized labeling system that communicates recycling instructions on packaging where space allows.
Ongoing Exploration: We are constantly exploring ways to eliminate waste and empower our associates and customers to recycle.
- Auto-Haul Program: In 2015, we began testing an auto-haul program, pre-scheduled cardboard and trash compactor pick-ups, in more than 100 high-volume stores. The program reduces instances of cardboard compactors becoming full, leading to cardboard being thrown into the trash. This reduction increases recycling and lowers expenses. Due to successful results, the test was expanded to more than 650 stores in 2019. We implemented an all-store rollout in 2020, with 93% of our stores now on the auto-haul program.
- Textile Recycling: The average U.S. citizen throws away 70 pounds of textiles every year and the EPA estimates only 15% is donated or recycled. We are exploring ways to help customers keep their used products from landfills with a test and learn approach.
- Gift Cards: We are currently exploring the elimination of plastic gift cards and moving towards paper gift cards. With paper being recyclable, this will eliminate more than 20 tons of plastic from landfills. Our e-gift cards are also a convenient zero-waste option for customers.
We’re working to ensure Kohl’s-owned branded products are sustainably sourced. We are focused on bringing this to life through efforts in our supply chain management, chemical management and raw material sourcing. We are one of the founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and maintain an active membership. The SAC is a group of apparel manufacturers, retailers, brands and non-government organizations working together to standardize supply chain sustainability measures.
Higg Index: In an effort to make meaningful improvements and more sustainable choices when it comes to protecting the well-being of factory workers, local communities and the environment, we use the Higg Index. The Higg Index is a suite of tools that accurately measures several environmental and social impacts, delivering a holistic overview of supply chain factory compliance and sustainability performance.
We require all approved facilities producing private and exclusive branded products to complete the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM). The Higg FEM assesses energy use, greenhouse gas and air emissions, water use, wastewater, waste management, environmental management systems and chemical management. In addition, our strategic suppliers are required to complete the Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM) as well as the Higg Facility Social and Labor Module (FSLM).
2025 Goal: Require all approved facilities producing Kohl’s private and exclusive branded products to use the Higg Index Environmental Module by 2025.
Kohl's is committed to meeting and striving to exceed industry standards of chemical management across our teams, our vendors and our facilities by continuing to advance our restricted substances standards and specifications. We continuously seek solutions to reduce the use of chemicals in our products, work to eliminate chemicals of concern, and improve chemical management in our operations. We strive to increase transparency to chemicals contained in or used to make the products we sell at Kohl's. We are committed to reporting on chemical management impacts in our annual ESG Report.
Our Chemical Management Policy, Restricted Substance List (RSL) and the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) apply to all textile and footwear raw materials and related finished products we sell within our proprietary brands.
2025 Goal: Emphasize the prevention, elimination and reduction of chemicals in Kohl’s owned brand products and strive for a zero-discharge supply chain of hazardous chemicals, building off of the company’s existing chemical sustainability program.
Chemical Management Strategy & Reducing Chemicals of High Concern (CHCs): Our chemical management strategy actively works to identify, prevent, eliminate and reduce the use of chemicals in Kohl’s proprietary brand products. We look to phase out potentially harmful chemicals or chemicals of concern, as appropriate, that may impact human health or the environment and identify and transition to safer alternatives.
Kohl’s maintains a public Restricted Substance List (RSL) that limits or prohibits the use of 100 chemicals. Kohl’s RSL is in addition to, not in lieu of, all applicable laws. In some cases, we have chosen to set standards and specifications that are stricter than what is required, around the use of formaldehyde and flame retardants.
Since 2021, Kohl’s has been a participating Friend of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation (ZDHC). ZDHC is the industry leader in Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) management. In addition to our RSL, we are requiring that each of our suppliers adhere to the ZDHC MRSL 2.0 which limits or prohibits the use of more than 220 chemicals.
Safer Chemical Alternatives & Third Party Standards: We are committed to working with our vendors and facilities to ensure the products we sell and use are safe and healthy for our customers and the environment. We expect our vendors to be constantly in search of safer chemical alternatives to achieve our RSL/MRSL requirements. Our vendors and suppliers are required to undergo third-party testing to ensure all products are produced, processed, manufactured and tested in full compliance with all applicable laws as well as any standards and specifications set by Kohl’s.
Kohl’s engages with vendors/suppliers to:
- Provide easy access to product specification documents which include chemical management requirements, tools and RSL via our vendor portal.
- Provide training to help factories improve their chemical management, including understanding risk and the importance of taking proper precautions.
- Assist in identifying opportunities to transition to preferred chemicals and require improvements when we find gaps in adherence.
- Develop comprehensive and strategic policies to manage environmental performance
As a pillar of our chemical management strategy, we have partnered with several third parties, including OEKO-TEX and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), to provide certifications for several products within our private and exclusive brands in support of our chemical management goals. These certifications are communicated on product packaging as well as on Kohls.com in the product details section. These certifications are communicated on product packaging as well as on Kohls.com in the product details section.
- STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a label for textiles tested for harmful substances.
- MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® is a traceable label for textiles tested for harmful substances. The label also indicates the product was produced in facilities that responsibly handle their emissions, waste, wastewater, and chemical management as well as provide fair and safe working conditions. The unique product ID provides consumers a transparent way to learn more about its manufacturing journey.
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) - GOTS is a textile processing standard that covers textiles made from at least 70% certified organic fibers. This certification provides credible assurance of responsible manufacturing of organic textiles.
- Sephora Beauty: In 2020, Kohl’s and Sephora announced their long-term strategic partnership. "Sephora at Kohl's" is a fully-immersive, premium beauty destination. Sephora has a robust safer chemicals policy for its private-label products and since 2019 has been taking significant steps forward in addressing chemicals of high concern (CHCs) in branded products it sells. Its voluntary, but growing, “Clean at Sephora” program provides a particularly transparent and comprehensive approach. Sephora has shown significant progress in eliminating CHCs from products it sells and outlined significant efforts to help ensure CHCs are replaced with safer alternatives.
Supplier Disclosure & Accountability: We monitor supplier’s environmental impacts through the Higg Facility Environmental Module (HiggFEM). All approved facilities producing Kohl’s proprietary brand products are required to complete the HiggFEM annually. The HiggFEM includes a chemical management section, which is the result of a collaboration between Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Outdoor Industry Association, and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. The HiggFEM Chemical Management section assesses and identifies opportunities for facilities to improve performance in several areas including production processes that use chemicals to make a product.
Suppliers are required under Kohl’s Purchase Order Terms and Conditions to ensure that any merchandise manufactured for and sold to Kohl’s is compliant with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, as well as any standards and specifications set by Kohl’s, including those regarding chemical safety and harmful/toxic substances. Achieving compliance with any chemical management standards and specifications set by Kohl’s will be a prerequisite of working with us in the future.
Our Own Operations: Kohl's regulated materials management program ensures our stores, distribution centers, e-fulfillment centers and corporate offices comply with federal and state environmental regulations and in turn helps to provide a safe and healthy environment for our customers and associates. Kohl’s requires our waste disposal vendors to comply with applicable laws and maintain industry standards in the treatment, disposal or repurposing of all hazardous and non-hazardous waste to ensure that they properly manage chemical risks.
Every Kohl's location has an area dedicated to properly handling regulated materials like cleaning chemicals, batteries, light bulbs, aerosol cans, paints and sharps. Additionally, select categories of unsalable beauty products are diverted from landfills and repurposed into paints, floor cleaners and deodorizing sprays
To deliver on our commitment to a more sustainable future for families, we strive to incorporate materials into our products that are better for people and the planet. As a pillar of our sourcing strategies, we have partnered with several key players behind some of the world’s largest and most innovative sustainability initiatives including Canopy's Protecting Forests campaign and REPREVE® Recycled Fiber.
With cotton being our single largest commodity and textile fibers increasingly contributing to ocean plastic pollution, we have set public goals and are committed to using more recycled polyester and more sustainable cotton. Our product development, design and sourcing teams are all aligned with our goals and empowered to drive progress.
- 2025 Goal: Achieve 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton for Kohl’s owned brand apparel, accessories and home product by 2025.
- 2025 Goal: Achieve 50 percent of polyester made with recycled materials in Kohl’s owned brand apparel, accessories and home product by 2025.
Canopy: Canopy works to support partner companies to reduce their environmental impact by making informed procurement choices that reduce the risk of sourcing man-made rayon, viscose or lyocell products from ancient and endangered forests globally. See Kohl’s Statement on Man Made Cellulosic Fiber here.
REPREVE® Recycled Fiber: Plastic bottles are sorted, washed, and chopped into flakes. The clean flakes are blended, melted and turned into Repreve recycled chips. The REPREVE® chips are transformed into fibers used in apparel and home products. REPREVE® content claims are verified through accredited standards.
Shopping both in-store and online, customers can use our sustainability icon system to discover several products within our private and exclusive brands that support our sustainable sourcing goals. Icons communicate sustainability features and are found on product packaging as well as on Kohls.com in the product details section. With our private and exclusive brands representing 37% of our business and with categories across home, accessories, footwear and apparel, we aim to grow our offering of sustainable products. Learn more at kohls.com/sustainability .
Little Co. by Lauren Conrad: Little Co. by Lauren Conrad is a collection of baby and toddler clothing introduced in 2020. With mix-and-match pieces made out of 100% organic cotton, this collection is a favorite for mothers and kids alike.
FLX: In October 2020, we announced a new private label, specialty athleisure brand, FLX, which will be available in select stores and online at Kohls.com beginning in March 2021. Designed for premium comfort and style, the entire FLX collection was made using sustainable methods and materials.
Launched in 2019, our Beauty Checkout features a rotating selection of beauty products to inspire and connect with customers. The assortment features clean, paraben-free, and vegan-friendly products.
To learn more about our Amazing product view our Amazing Product page.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ (LEED®): We use the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ (LEED®) green building program rating systems to guide the design, construction, and operation of our stores.Commercial buildings that are LEED® certified use, on average, 25% less energy than similar buildings and generate one-third less carbon dioxide emissions. We continue to emphasize LEED® where appropriate, and our portfolio stands as a testament to the steps we have taken to reduce our environmental impact and provide customers with a positive and healthy shopping environment. Our buildings meet LEED® criteria because of our investment in the following aspects of design and construction:
- Building Materials: Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) materials such as wall coverings, carpet, and ceiling tiles are used in the interior. We also employ the use of pre- and post-recycled content throughout our buildings.
- Heat Island Effect: Reflective roofing material is often used to reduce the “heat island effect” that occurs when air and surface temperatures rise. These materials contribute to lowering a building’s energy demands.
Water Stewardship: Water is a precious resource, and our stores are designed to manage it accordingly. Existing stores have low-flow faucets, and new stores have low-flow toilets. Together, these measures help reduce indoor water usage at locations throughout the country. Smart irrigation controllers that use live weather data to adjust outdoor water usage have lowered irrigation water use. Better Buildings Water Challenge Partners strive to decrease portfolio-wide source water use intensity (WUI) and to increase the percent improvement compared to a set baseline. Since 2010, we have improved our water performance by 17% across our portfolio. Water consumption during 2020 was significantly lower than a typical year since COVID-19 disruptions resulted in temporary building closures and reduced occupancy for much of the year.
Kohl’s is proud to have been recognized with the following awards for significant progress implementing its environmental ESG initiatives:
DJSI North America
Kohl’s has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America for the fourth consecutive year (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). Inclusion in the indices is a testament to our environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance and commitments. Each year, S&P Global invites the largest global companies to participate in the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). The CSA converts intangible aspects of a company's sustainability performance into tangible scores, providing an effective engagement platform for investors who wish to encourage companies to improve their corporate sustainability practices. This year we performed especially well in the areas of Corporate Governance, Climate Strategy and Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy.
S&P Global Sustainability Yearbook Member
We are honored to be recognized as a global leader in sustainability and have been included in the S&P Global Sustainability Yearbook for the first time in 2021. We were one of only two U.S. retailers listed and one of just 16 from around the world. The annual yearbook includes companies that rank in the top 15% of their industry for sustainability performance and environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments as part of the S&P Corporate Sustainability Assessment. Learn more.
Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies
Kohl's was named to Barron's list of the Top 100 Sustainable Companies in 2020 and 2019. Kohl’s was recognized for our strong commitment to environmental, social and corporate governance practices. Image reprinted with permission of Barron’s.
Leadership Level CDP Ranking
Since 2007, we have disclosed emissions data to CDP. Our CDP Climate Change response includes detailed information on our strategy and performance, enabling us to measure and manage our environmental impacts. As a result of our continuing efforts, we were awarded CDP’s A- ranking in 2021. This is the third consecutive year we have been recognized at the CDP’s Leadership Level, demonstrating a significant acknowledgement of our continued commitment to climate action.
Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)
As part of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), Kohl’s has committed to align its GHG reduction targets with SBTi’s target-setting criteria, climate science and the core commitment of the Paris Agreement.
Solar Energy Industries Association® Top 25 Corporate Solar User
We are proud to be ranked as one of the Top 25 Corporate Users by Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) for our continued prioritization of onsite solar installations.Learn more here.
EPA ENERGY STAR Partner & Sustained Excellence Award
Our cooperating partnership with the EPA ENERGY STAR program has remained consistent since 1998. Kohl’s was selected as a 2021 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year winner for Sustained Excellence for the 10th consecutive year. An honor reserved for ENERGY STAR partners demonstrating outstanding leadership, year over year.
Green Power Partner & Top 30 Retailer
Kohl’s has been an active member of EPA’s Green Power Partnership since 2006, and has been named on EPA’s Green Power Top 30 Retail list since 2014, previously holding the number one spot for four consecutive years.
U.S. Department of Energy Better Building Challenge Achiever
As a participant in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge, Kohl’s reached our goal of 20% energy reduction by 2020 two years early. We are one of only three retailers to become a Better Building Challenge Achiever by achieving a total of 24% reduction based on a 2008 baseline. We’ve now set our sights higher with the new goal to cut an additional 10% on top of the 20% already realized.
U.S. Department of Energy Better Climate Challenge
We are proud to announce that we have joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge, committing to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025. As a partner in the challenge, we plan to share our carbon reduction progress and strategies to help other organizations build on our success.
SmartWay Shipper Partner & High Performer
Kohl’s is a shipper partner of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) SmartWay Transport Program. Kohl’s fleet is managed by vendor partners who are held to high standards through vetting their sustainable practices. SmartWay membership for vendors is both sought after and encouraged.
Kohl’s was recognized on the SmartWay® 2021 High Performer List as an industry leader in the environmental and energy performance of our freight supply chain. Receiving this distinction places Kohl’s among the top 5% of all SmartWay shipper partners.
EPA WasteWise Partner & Award
In 2021, Kohl’s was honored with the EPA WasteWise Regional award and in 2020 the National Award for excellence in waste management, leading large businesses in its practices of preventing waste and recycling in order to achieve both environmental and economic benefits. Kohl’s has been a voluntary partner and active participant of the
EPA’s WasteWise program since 2006.
Sustainable Apparel Coalition
Kohl’s is one of the founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and maintains an active membership. The SAC is a group of apparel manufacturers, retailers, brands and non-government organizations working together to standardize sustainability measures in the apparel and footwear supply chain.
The Higg index is a suite of tools that accurately measures several environmental and social impacts, delivering a holistic overview of supply chain factory compliance and sustainability performance. We use the Higg Index to make more sustainable choices when it comes to supply chain and facility performance.
Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council
Kohl’s actively serves on the advisory board of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council (WSBC). For the 11th consecutive year, Kohl’s has been awarded the Green Masters Award in 2021 for our performance across multiple initiatives. The WSBC awards the Green Masters Award to businesses performing in the top 20% of applicants in the Green Masters Program, a comprehensive environmental, social and governance (ESG) assessment program.
Kohl’s has been an active member of the How2Recycle® label program since 2019. How2Recycle® is a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public. It involves a coalition of forward thinking brands who want their packaging to be recycled and are empowering consumers through smart packaging labels.
Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation (ZDHC)
Kohl’s has been a participating friend of ZDHC since 2021. ZDHC enables brands and retailers in the textile, apparel, and footwear industries to implement sustainable chemical management best practice across the value chain. Through collaborative engagement, standard setting, and implementation, we will advance towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals.
- Environmental Policy
- CDP Climate Change Response
- Chemical Management Policy
- Restricted Substance List (RSL)
- ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL)
- Man-Made Cellulose Statement
- Fur Free Policy
Annual Report Archive