Our Commitment: From our Leaders
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
"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.
Kohl’s sustainability goals include quantitative targets focused on three key areas: climate action, waste and recycling and sustainable sourcing. 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 FY2022 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: 49% reduction in scope 1 and 2, CY2022
- Reduce energy consumption by 30% at Kohl’s facilities versus a 2008 baseline by 2025
- Progress: 30% reduction in energy consumption since 2008, CY2022
- Expand renewable energy platforms by building off the company’s existing solar locations.
- Progress: 163 solar locations
- Support the transition to a low-carbon transportation system, building off of the company’s existing locations offering electric vehicle (EV) charging. By the end of 2023, Kohl’s aims to have 200 locations offer EV charging.
- Since 2018, Kohl’s has added 73 charging locations, bringing the total number of locations offering EV charging to 169.
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 annually.
- Progress: 83.7% of waste was diverted from landfills, CY2022
- Label 100% of Kohl’s-owned branded packaging with the How2Recycle® label by 2025.
- 100% of shipping bags and boxes
- 100% of in-store shopping bags
- 100% of private/exclusive shoeboxes
- Kohl's is moving forward with How2Recycle® product packaging in the Home Goods category.
- Reduce the amount of plastic and cardboard in Kohl’s-owned branded packaging.
- New packaging technology at select e-fulfillment centers will allow us to right-size bag materials by automatically trimming it to fit the merchandise. The trimmed pieces are then recycled into future packaging.
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% responsibly sourced cotton for Kohl’s proprietary brands by 2025.
- Progress: 87% of cotton was responsibly sourced
- Require 50% of polyester styles to contain recycled materials in Kohl’s proprietary brands.
- Progress: 23% of our proprietary brand polyester styles contain recycled polyester
- Require all approved facilities producing Kohl’s private- and exclusive-branded products to complete the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) by 2025.
- 100% of approved facilities were required to complete the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM) in 2022, 80% of all approved facilities completed the Higg FEM.
- Our strategic suppliers were required to complete the Higg VFEM and the Higg FSLM.
- In 2022, we established environmental standards for our strategic suppliers over five categories that will be assessed for compliance in 2023.
- Utilizing the Higg Index, drive substantial water reduction use in the production of Kohl’s-owned branded products by 2025.
- Higg FEM 2021 performance analysis for water-intensive facilities revealed that our suppliers located in the most-water-stressed regions already have strong water management practices in place.
- Kohl’s completed a water risk assessment using the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas to map areas of water risks across our global supply chain. Kohl’s will continue to engage with its vendors (especially those located in high water stress regions) to build their capacity, identify opportunities to reduce water consumption, and proliferate best practices.
- Emphasize the elimination and reduction of certain chemicals and strive for zero discharge in tier 1 suppliers for select Kohl’s proprietary brands 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 private brand brand textile towels, pillows, sheets, curtains, and rugs are MADE IN GREEN or STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®
We realize the magnitude of climate change and are committed to doing our part in the global fight against climate change, incorporating environmentally responsible practices into all of our business operations and to be an environmental leader in our industry. 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. Additionally, Kohl’s is committed to reducing our carbon footprint to reach net zero by 2050. We are focused on reducing our carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency and cutting energy consumption – both within our business and across our supply chain.
Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD): Kohl's climate-related disclosures have been guided by using the TCFD framework since 2021, which assists companies in more effectively disclosing climate-related risks and opportunities. We continue to leverage industry standards including the TCFD framework and recommendations as we further our progress of commitment to and managing climate-related issues. View Kohl’s TCFD Report.
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 2022. This is the fourth consecutive year we have been recognized at the CDP’s Leadership Level, demonstrating a significant acknowledgment of our continued commitment to climate action.
Board Oversight: Our governance practices form the foundation for how we manage risk, ensure accountability, and provide transparency to our stakeholders. The Nominating and ESG Committee of Kohl’s Board of Directors actively oversees our ESG initiatives to understand both risks and growth opportunities, as well as progress made against the company’s goals. To that end, the Nominating and ESG Committee receives regular updates on ESG topics from management and provides reports to the full Board of Directors. In this way, Kohl’s Board of Directors plays a vital role in shaping and supporting our long-term ESG strategies while addressing the Board’s oversight responsibilities related to the management and performance of ESG issues, all of which is essential to sustain the long-term interest of all stakeholders.
Management Role: The Chief Risk and Compliance Officer has ultimate responsibility for overseeing our climate strategy. As part of the Risk Reduction Committee, the CRCO is responsible for assessing and managing climate risks and opportunities. Our Risk Reduction Committee allows for collaboration across key departments and includes members of the executive team. The committee has climate-related responsibilities, including assessing and managing risks and opportunities, and reports to the full Board on priority risks. The Committee’s input on climate-related issues provides key support to the Board.
Climate-Related Risks: 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.
Climate Risk Management: We leverage a number of different means to monitor and manage our environmental risks, strategies and target progress. Kohl’s Risk Reduction Committee owns our robust Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) program, which is designed to prioritize and monitor progress in managing potential impacts of regulatory, operational, financial and reputational risks across the organization. Climate-related risks and opportunities are identified through known industry-specific risks, monitoring the regulatory environment, macro as well as brand and reputation considerations. Identified risks are assessed based on type as well as the potential cost of the impact. The ERM establishes a procedure and protocol for any financially material risks, and action plans to mitigate risks are developed and deployed via individual risk owners We integrate climate-related issues into our annual risk assessments, ensuring that climate risks are incorporated into our overall business strategy, providing flexibility to react quickly to address and manage current or emerging risks.
Business Continuity: We have a business continuity team dedicated to supporting the well-being of associates and customers in times of natural disaster, crisis and unplanned incidents. To navigate through the incident management lifecycle, the team ensures preparedness, supports impacted locations, leads cross-functional exchanges of information and suggests actions to mitigate risk across the business.
Climate - Metrics & Targets
Kohl’s climate action goals are focused on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increase of renewable energy use. We are committed to reducing our combined scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% versus a 2014 baseline by 2025.
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 validate our new science-based emission reduction targets.
Better Climate Challenge Partner: In November 2021, we were one of the first companies to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge, strengthening our commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. As a partner in the challenge, we plan to share our carbon reduction progress and strategies to help other organizations build on our success.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: We actively track our scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and report these metrics annually. Our greenhouse gas emissions are regularly audited and data is third-party verified annually to the International Organization for Standardization 14064-3:2019. At the end of CY2022 we achieved a total of 49% reduction in our scope 1 and 2 emissions based on a 2014 baseline and methodology. In addition, at our March 2022 Investor meeting Kohl’s made a commitment towards reaching Net Zero by 2050. For more information on our emissions view our 2022 ESG Report.
Climate - Energy Efficiency:
We have the power to make a significant impact with the right energy solutions. We are committed to reduce our energy consumption by 30% at Kohl’s facilities by 2025 versus a 2008 baseline.
Better Buildings Challenge Achiever: 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. In 2022, we achieved a 30% energy reduction based on our 2008 baseline, hitting our updated target of a 30% reduction by 2025. We are actively reevaluating our goals to ensure continuous impactful progress. As one of only five Better Building Challenge Achievers in the retail industry we stand as a leader in energy efficiency. Kohl’s was also highlighted in the 2022 Better Buildings Progress Report showcasing our leadership managing the energy performance of our buildings.
EPA ENERGY STAR®: Our cooperating partnership with the EPA ENERGY STAR® program has remained consistent since 1998. We rely on the program for emerging tools and technical information, which helps us continually assess building performance. We were selected as a 2022 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year winner for Sustained Excellence for the 11th consecutive year, which is an honor reserved for ENERGY STAR partners demonstrating outstanding leadership year over year. As part of our commitment to the reduction of our carbon footprint through increased energy efficiency, we increased the number of ENERGY STAR certified stores to 94% in 2022.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of ENERGY STAR in 2022, the EPA offered special one-time recognition to any organization that earned ENERGY STAR® certification for five or more buildings within the year. With 54 of our buildings earning certification in 2022, we became an Executive Member of Certification Nation.
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 CY 2022, we completed 119 LED retrofits, which will save more than 20 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. In our ongoing commitment to energy efficiency, Kohl’s is ramping up deployment of LED lighting across our properties. By the end of 2025, we will have LED lighting installed at all of our properties. To date, 70% of our stores have received LED retrofits across the majority of their floor plans. Additionally, 51 stores received an HVAC system replacement for greater efficiency.
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.
Climate - Renewable Energy
With over 51.5 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. We are committed to expanding our renewable energy platforms by building off the company’s existing solar and wind locations.
EPA Green Power Partner: 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 for eight consecutive years. By using green power, Kohl’s helps reduce the effects of air pollution and emissions associated with conventional electricity use while supporting the domestic development of clean energy resources.
Solar: In 2022, an estimated 54,434 megawatt-hours (MWh) of solar energy was used, meaning more than 6% 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 three solar trees. Solar trees are designed to track the sun and rotate throughout the day, allowing each solar tree to potentially generate between 25-35 megawatt-hours of power annually. They are equipped with electric vehicle charging stations, and one solar tree can 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.
We are proud to have been ranked fourth among corporate users for the total number of solar installations and 11th for total installed on-site solar capacity by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Over the last 15 years, Kohl’s has been committed to growing our renewable energy production by investing in solar panels. Kohl's actively continues to equip our rooftops with solar arrays to further our commitment to renewable energy. By summer of 2023, we will have 15 new solar installment projects completed across Arizona and Illinois, which will increase Kohl's Installed Solar Capacity by 10.4%, to a total of 56.97 MW.
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs): We also maintain a commitment to renewable energy use through the purchase and production of renewable energy credits (RECs). In 2022, we secured RECs totaling approximately 91,586 megawatt-hours (MWh), including 20,555 MWh from our on-site solar arrays, where we retain or own the RECs. These RECs resulted in the offset of 35,373 metric tons of carbon.
Climate - Electric Vehicle Charging
As we work to reduce our environmental footprint, we want to enable our customers to do the same. Kohl’s is committed to accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles by expanding charging networks.
At the end of FY 2022, we had more than 325 electric vehicle charging spots/ports spread across 169 locations. These stations provide nearly 200,000 charging sessions per year to our customers and associates. By maintaining our solidarity with electric vehicle owners, the charging we provide powers over 1.8M miles of driving and saves more than 83,000 gallons of gasoline annually.
During National Drive Electric Week in 2022, Kohl's offered free charging to the public for the first two hours of each charging session. In total, we saw over 5,000 charging sessions, providing more than 29,000 kWh.
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. Kohl’s fleet is managed by vendor partners who are held to high standards through vetting and studying their sustainable practices. To cut down on vehicle emissions, we continually work to improve the environmental performance of our fleet. 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.
EPA SmartWay® Shipper Partner: 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 2022, 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.
EPA SmartWay® High Performer List: We are proud to have been named as an EPA 2022 SmartWay® High Performer and recognized as an industry leader in environmental and energy performance of our freight supply chain. Receiving this distinction places Kohl’s among the top 5% of all SmartWay shipper partners. Our exceptional performance moving goods in the cleanest and most energy-efficient way possible ultimately leads to cleaner and healthier communities.
Mile & Weight Improvement Activities: To cut down on air emissions, we continually work to improve the environmental performance of our fleet.
- Backhaul Program: Utilization of inbound trailers to support freight return loads from stores improves route optimization and reduces empty miles from our system. We also ensure store teams properly load backhaul trailers to maximize space.
- Drop-and-Hook: Idle time for trucks is drastically reduced by utilizing drop-and-hook methods at the origin and destination of shipments. 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. Rail usage stands at nearly 37% of inbound freight loads. On average, rail uses 75% fewer carbon emissions than an average truckload delivery.
- Future Fleet: 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.
Shipping Partners: 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.
- International Carriers: Our ocean carriers are engaged through membership in the Smart Freight Centre (SFC) Clean Cargo Working Group. More than 88% of our cargo travels on a SFC ship providing up-to-date emissions data in order to gain a deeper understanding of our supply chain footprint. Most of our carriers belong to environmental programs that benchmark sustainability goals.
- Expeditors: Expeditors are a group of carriers who share a concern for transparency, freight transportation efficiency and the mitigation of harmful greenhouse gasses 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. “GIGA Class” vessels on this line consume less energy and achieve the best Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) values, which are 48% better than the EEDI baseline requirement set by the International Maritime Bureau 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.
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.
- Label 100%of Kohl’s owned branded packaging with the How2Recycle® label by 2025.
- Reduce the amount of plastic and cardboard in Kohl’s owned branded packaging.
Solid Waste: Our solid waste management policy governs how we manage waste and recycle in store and at our corporate facilities. The separation of cardboard, paper, plastic, and compost is a key company-wide practice. Our goal when disposing of consumables and durable goods is to recycle as much material as possible.
Auto-Haul Program: In 2015, we began testing an auto-haul program with pre-scheduled cardboard and trash compactor pickups in more than 100 high-volume stores. This successful program is now rolled out to 94% of our 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.
Regulated Waste: 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 83.7% diversion rate in CY 2022. 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 & Paper Waste Management
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. We are constantly exploring ways to eliminate waste and empower our associates and customers to recycle.
In 2022, we recycled more than 5 million pounds of plastic film, bags and wrap. When a customer leaves our store, the plastic bags they’re holding are made from at least 40% recycled, unbleached plastic. Customers can also drop plastic bags in the in-store recycling bins to be repurposed into new materials.
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 are updated quarterly with new prints to excite and engage our customers into becoming more sustainable.
Customers have the option to take their hangers home with them to reuse. The remaining hangers are recycled into a pre-consumer product or used in various industrial applications, which are often recyclable, therefore continuing the loop. Through our hanger recycling program we recycled more than 10 million pounds of hangers in 2022.
Paper Gift Cards
We have begun the rollout of Kohl’s branded recyclable paper gift cards. This will eliminate an estimated 39,000 pounds of plastic from our landfills. Our e-gift cards are also a convenient zero-waste option for customers.
We also reduce waste by reminding Kohl’s Card holders they can opt for paperless billing. Since 2014, we have issued more than 391 million electronic credit card statements. More than one-third of all cardholders now receive their statements electronically. Additionally, all customers can opt in to receive e-receipts when they shop in store.
The business of influencing fashion yields thousands of fabric scraps. Associates in our New York 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.
Product Waste Donations
Through in-kind donations, Kohl’s simultaneously reduces waste and supports family health and wellness nonprofits in the community. Over the past year, Kohl’s has donated a surplus of goods, including masks and cleaning supplies, Kohl’s Cares merchandise, and various brand and beauty merchandise to nonprofits in our communities. In total, Kohl’s donated products with a retail value totalling more than $7 million to local nonprofits, Kohl's hometown and national partners, Project Glimmer, and Good360.
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. During development, we strongly encourage our suppliers to offer certified, recyclable, recycled or reusable materials.
Branded Apparel Packaging and Labels: Since 2019, Kohl’s has been focused on reducing branded apparel packaging and labels by identifying unnecessary packaging, evaluating size and paperweight, and transitioning toward the use of certified paper for proprietary brands. Nearly 100% of our estimated 2.2 million pounds of branded apparel packaging paper in CY 2022 has been converted to FSC-certified paper. We continue to convert materials by sourcing certified and recyclable solutions with the goal of converting all branded apparel product packaging and labels by 2025. Over 96% of our private and exclusive apparel and accessories plastic packaging is sourced with certified or recyclable content and over 76% of printed labels on private and exclusive garments are sourced with certified recycled content.
How2Recycle®: 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. 100% of Kohl’s-branded shipping bags and boxes, proprietary shoeboxes, and in-store shopping bags are produced with How2Recycle® labels to educate the consumer on proper recycling methods. The company is now shifting its focus to labeling private and exclusive brands home goods product packaging.
Shipping Packaging: 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. New technology at select e-fulfillment centers allows us to right-size a shipping package by automatically trimming it to fit the merchandise. The trimmed pieces are then recycled into future packaging. Additionally, since 2011, Kohl’s has transitioned to only using green air pillows which break down faster in a landfill than traditional air pillows. These efforts also help control costs by reducing packaging materials and requiring less handling during the shipping process.
Our merchant and logistics teams are working to reduce the amount of packaging used for product shipments to our customers, stores, and distribution centers. Starting in 2022, new packaging technology at select e-fulfillment centers allowed us to right-size bag materials by automatically trimming it to fit the merchandise. The trimmed pieces are then recycled into future packaging.
As this technology is deployed across Kohl’s supply chain, Kohl’s anticipates seeing a 15% reduction year-over-year in plastic bag material. By 2025, we expect this material savings to result in nearly 892 miles of plastic material saved and a reduction of over $700,000 in material costs.
Additionally, right-sized box packaging technology has reduced dunnage by 52% over previous box packaging methods.By 2025, we expect 16 million Kohl's boxes to be shipped with reduced dunnage. Kohl's has also implemented air pillows and padded mailers, which use recyclable materials.
We partner with suppliers that celebrate protecting the forests and support the Uzima Clean Water Mission. Through these partnerships, we have been able to provide our customers with recycled paper packaging that saves trees from being harvested and helps support accessibility to clean drinking water.
We’re working to make Kohl’s proprietary-branded products more sustainably sourced.
Environmental Impacts on our Supply Chain: We collaborate with our suppliers to communicate our expectations in their sustainability efforts. Supply chain operations can have an impact on the environment through energy and water consumption, carbon emissions, wastewater, chemical use, and waste disposal. If the environmental impacts of our supply chain are left unmanaged, they could pose both financial and reputational risks. 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. We use the Higg Index Facility Environmental Module (FEM), Verified Environmental Module (VFEM), and the Facility Social and Labor Module (FSLM) to evaluate the environmental and social performance of our suppliers, and use this data is to identify the necessary improvements that should be made to reduce harm to the environment and people.
Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC): 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 nongovernment organizations working together to standardize supply chain sustainability measures. The complex nature of global supply chain issues requires collaboration among many stakeholders. We are committed to consulting with stakeholders on environmental issues, and we share best practices with our supply chain partners to encourage the use of cleaner and more sustainable means of production to reduce environmental impacts.
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). In 2022, we established environmental standards in five key areas for our strategic suppliers, and they will be assessed for compliance in 2023.
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 certain 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 134 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 in the manufacturing process of products.
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 - 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.
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 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.
Social and environmental impact factors are considered when we evaluate the sustainability of the raw materials we use to source Kohl’s private brands. The environmental risks associated with sourcing raw materials include chemical management, water and energy consumption, biodiversity loss, and deforestation, as well as climate change.
Increasing our use of responsibly sourced materials will help to lessen our environmental impact and could also drive reductions in our scope 3 emissions. We have set public goals and are committed to increasing the use of recycled polyester and more sustainable cotton. Our product development, design, and sourcing teams are aligned with our goals and empowered to drive progress.
Our raw materials sourcing strategy focuses on the key materials that account for the majority of our raw material consumption. The most common materials we use are cotton, polyester, nylon and manufactured cellulosic fibers. As a pillar of our sourcing strategies, we have partnered with key players behind some of the world’s largest and most innovative sustainability initiatives.
Cotton (Natural Fibers): Cotton is our single largest commodity, and we utilize the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to provide certifications for several products within our private and exclusive brands containing natural fibers. 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. Kohls tracks the Environmental Impact Measure (EIM) scores for all denim washes to monitor environmental impact. As of FY2022, 87% of cotton was responsiby sourced and 100% of our private brand denim is responsibly sourced cotton. 2025 Goal: Achieve 100% responsibly sourced cotton for Kohl’s-owned brand products.
Manufactured Cellulosics (Wood Derived Fibers): Manufactured cellulosics are renewable however responsible production processes need to be adhered to so that it does not contribute to deforestation. Canopy’s Protecting Forests campaign 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. Kohl’s is working toward only using man-made cellulosic fibers that are not are derived from ancient and endangered forests, endangered species’ habitats, or other controversial sources, defined by the nonprofit organization Canopy in our private brands apparel products. See Kohl’s statement on man-made cellulosic fiber.
Polyester & Nylon (Synthetic Fibers): Polyester is a synthetic material produced from fossil fuels. We are working to transition from virgin sources of polyester to recycled options. We utilize the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) and Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) to provide certifications for several products within our private and exclusive brands in support of our raw material sourcing goals. As of FY2022, 23% of our private and exclusive brand polyester styles contain recycled polyester. 2025 Goal: Achieve 50% of polyester styles to contain recycled materials in Kohl’s proprietary brands by 2025.
Fur-Free (Animal-Derived Fibers): Kohl’s does not knowingly carry products that contain real fur. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure adherence to our fur-free policy and labeling guidelines.
Responsible Brand Stories
With our private and exclusive brands representing more than 35% of our business and with categories across home, accessories, footwear, and apparel, we aim to grow our offering of products with sustainable attributes. Our teams are focused on our impact and commitments to support biodiversity at the development stage when identifying priority materials and the responsible sourcing methods. Learn more at Kohls.com/Sustainability.
Sonoma Goods for Life: Sonoma Goods for Life is Kohl’s flagship brand and offers a cross-category assortment of apparel and home goods for the modern family. We actively strive to source responsible materials. In 2022, 80% of the apparel and home brand products were made with at least 20% responsible methods or materials.
Little Co. by Lauren Conrad: Little Co. by Lauren Conrad is a collection of baby and toddler clothing introduced in 2020. With a majority of Little Co. by Lauren Conrad made out of organic cotton or containing recycled polyester, this collection is a favorite for mothers and kids alike. All denim has a green Environmental Impact Measure score signifying low environmental impact.
FLX: Our specialty athleisure brand FLX launched in select stores and online during 2021 and is designed for premium comfort and style. The entire FLX collection is made using recycled nylon, recycled polyester, organic cotton, or cotton that supports more responsible farming. In spring of 2022, FLX expanded to the majority of the chain to continue to offer accessible athleisure to our customers.
Water is a precious resource, and prioritizing water efficiency is a necessary response in the fight against climate change. Kohl’s designs new stores to manage it accordingly, including using low-flow faucets and toilets. Smart irrigation controllers that use live weather data to adjust outdoor water usage has lowered irrigation water use. Together, these measures help reduce indoor water usage at locations throughout the country.
Better Buildings Water Savings Network: As a U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Water Savings Network Partner we 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 13%. Since 2010, we have improved our water performance by 16% across our portfolio.
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 fifth consecutive year (2018-2022). 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 Operational Eco-Efficiency, Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy, and Corporate Governance.
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.
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 2022. This is the fourth consecutive year we have been recognized at the CDP’s Leadership Level, demonstrating a significant acknowledgement of our continued commitment to climate action. Learn more.
World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute
For the past four years, we have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. In 2022, 136 organizations are recognized, spanning 22 countries and 45 industries. We were one of only three honorees in the retail industry. The World’s Most Ethical Companies is an annual assessment conducted by the Ethisphere Institute that evaluates five key categories of a company including its leadership and reputation; ethics and compliance program; governance; environmental and societal impact; and culture of ethics.
Solar Energy Industries Association®
We are proud to have been ranked fourth among corporate users for the total number of solar installations and 11th for total installed on-site solar capacity.
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.
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 2022 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year winner for Sustained Excellence for the 11th consecutive year, an honor reserved for ENERGY STAR partners demonstrating outstanding leadership, year over year. We also recently became an Executive Member of Certification Nation after more than 50 of our buildings earned certification in 2022.
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, 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® 2022 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.
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 2022 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.
Sustainable Packaging Coalition®
Kohl's is a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC). The SPC is the leading voice on sustainable packaging and is a collaborative of businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies who collectively strengthen and advance the business case for more sustainable packaging.
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.
As a partner of the CanopyStyle Campaign, Kohl’s is working toward reducing the risk of sourcing man-made cellulosic fibers derived from ancient and endangered forests, endangered species’ habitats or other controversial sources as defined by the nonprofit organization Canopy. CanopyStyle partners are supported to reduce their environmental impact by making informed procurement choices that advance forest conservation, biodiversity and climate action.
Better Buildings Water Savings Network
As a U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Water Savings Network Partner, we strive to decrease our 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 16% across our portfolio.
- 2022 ESG Report
- Environmental Policy
- CDP Climate Change Response 2023
- CDP Climate Change Response 2022
- TCFD Disclosure 2022
- Chemical Management Policy
- Restricted Substance List (RSL)
- ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL)
- Man-Made Cellulose Statement
- Fur Free Policy
Annual Report Archive