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 believe in supporting our associates, our customers and our communities through our environmental, social and governance (ESG) stewardship, and we have continued to take meaningful steps to ensure Kohl’s leaves a smaller environmental footprint on the planet. I am proud that Kohl’s approaches our ESG efforts as both our responsibility and our privilege to be part of making a positive difference.” - 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 2021 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 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 FY2021 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 CY2021
- Reduce energy consumption by 30% at Kohl’s facilities by 2025 versus 2008 baseline.
- Progress: 29% reduction in energy consumption since 2008
- 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: 145+ locations offer EV charging.
- Progress: 145+ locations offer EV charging.
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 86.5% of Kohl’s U.S. operational waste from landfills by the end of 2025.
- Progress: 85% of waste was diverted from landfills. *As of CY2021
- 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: 24% of cotton was sustainably sourced
- Achieve 50% of polyester styles to contain recycled materials in Kohl’s proprietary brands by 2025.
- Progress: 20% of 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.
- Progress: 80.5% of facilities completed the Higg FEM
- 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 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 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.
As a leader in the retail sector, 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. Additionally, Kohl’s is committed to reducing our carbon footprint to reach net zero by 2050. By investing in renewables and LED lighting, creating sustainable business practices, and offering low-carbon transportation options, Kohl’s is focused on reducing emissions.
Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD): Beginning in 2021, Kohl's climate-related disclosures are guided by using the TCFD framework. We plan to leverage the TCFD framework and recommendations as we continue our commitment to 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 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.
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 CY21 we achieved a total of 50% reduction in our scope 1 and 2 emissions based on a 2014 baseline, achieving our climate reduction goal four years ahead of schedule. 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 2021 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. 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.
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 2021, more than 91% 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 2021, we completed 130 LED retrofits, which will save more than 42 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. In our ongoing commitment to energy efficiency, Kohl’s is ramping up deployment of LED lighting across our fleet. By the end of 2025, we will have LED lighting installed at all of our properties. To date, 63% of our stores have received LED retrofits across the majority of their floor plans. Additionally, 71 stores received an HVAC system replacement for optimum 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 51MW 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 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.
Solar and Wind: In 2021, an estimated 58,732 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. In 2007, Kohl’s started out with about 38,000 solar panels on the rooftops of 19 California stores. We currently host 163 solar arrays around the country totaling more than 200,000 solar panels and 3 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 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.
In 2022, Kohl’s is launching a program to equip 15 of our rooftops across Arizona and Illinois with solar arrays within the next year. The 15 new projects will increase Kohl’s Installed Solar Capacity by 10.4%, to a total of 56.97 MW. Further bolstering Kohl’s presence in renewables and commitment to sustainability, the company is contracting to support the development of 23.4MW of community solar projects across New York in 2022. Continuing to grow in scale and popularity, Community Solar will enable Kohl’s to help spur the development of localized renewable energy. Kohl’s will subscribe to a share of four community solar projects that will generate clean, renewable energy and provide economic and environmental benefits to local area residents. The projects will also provide energy credits to 18 Kohl’s store locations throughout New York.
Renewable Energy Credits (RECs): We also maintain a commitment to renewable energy use through the purchase and production of renewable energy credits (RECs). In 2021, we secured RECs totaling approximately 85,278 MWh, including 24,278 MWh from our on-site solar arrays where we retain or own the RECs. These RECs resulted in the offset of 28,212 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.
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 325 electric vehicle charging spots spread across 146 locations-these stations have provided more than 105,000 charging sessions per year to our customers and associates. By maintaining our solidarity with electric vehicle owners, the charging we provide powers more than 809,000 miles of driving and has saved more than 36,000 gallons of gasoline annually.
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 2021, 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 honored with the EPA 2021 SmartWay® Excellence Award. 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. 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 38% of truckload freight. 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: Kohl’s Ocean Carriers are engaged through membership in the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) Clean Cargo Working Group. More than 97 percent of our cargo travels on a BSR ship providing up-to-date emissions data in order to gain deeper understanding of our supply chain footprint. 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 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. . “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. 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 were honored with the EPA WasteWise 2020 National and 2021 Regional awards for preventing waste and promoting recycling to achieve both environmental and economic benefits.
EPA WasteWise: Since 2006, we have been a voluntary partner and active participant in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s WasteWise program, which helps businesses apply sustainable materials management practices. We are a recognized leader in waste management by WasteWise, and were honored with the EPA WasteWise 2020 National and 2021 Regional awards for preventing waste and promoting recycling 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.
- 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, 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.
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.
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 86.5% diversion rate in 2021. 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.
Plastic Bags: In 2014, we developed partnerships to help us recycle plastic film, bags and wrap. In 2021, 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 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.
Paper Bags: Select stores 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.
Reusable 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.
Gift Cards: We are currently exploring the elimination of plastic gift cards and moving toward paper gift cards. With paper being recyclable, this could eliminate more than 20 tons of plastic from landfills. Our e-gift cards are also a convenient zero-waste option for customers.
Fabric Scraps: 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 2021, we recycled 1,913 pounds of fabric scraps from our New York and Milwaukee locations.
Paperless Options: We also reduce waste by reminding Kohl’s cardholders they can opt for paperless billing. Since 2014, we have issued more than 30 million electronic credit card statements. More than one-third of all cardholders now receive their statements electronically. Additionally, all customers can opt-in to 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. 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 eliminating duplicative elements, evaluating size and paperweight and transitioning toward the use of certified paper for private and exclusive brands. Nearly 100% of our estimated 3 million pounds of branded apparel packaging paper 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. Molded plastics are in progress of being converted to recycled content, and woven and printed labels on garments are on track to be reduced and converted to certified recycled content by the end of 2022
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.
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.
We’re working to make Kohl’s proprietary-branded products more sustainably sourced.
Environmental Impacts on our Supply Chain: 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.
Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC): The complex nature of global supply chain issues requires collaboration among many stakeholders. We are committed to consulting with stakeholders on environmental issues within our supply chain. 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).
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 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 (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.
Clean at Sephora: 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 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.
We consider the environmental impact and take several factors into account when we evaluate the sustainability of the raw materials we use to source Kohl’s proprietary 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.
To manage our risks associated with sourcing priority raw materials, we have set public goals and are committed to increasing the use of recycled polyester and more sustainable cotton. Increasing our use of responsibly sourced materials will help to lessen our environmental impact and could also drive reductions in our Scope 3 emissions. 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. As of FY2021, 24% of cotton was sustainably sourced. 2025 Goal: Achieve 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton for Kohl’s owned brand apparel, accessories and home product by 2025.
Manufactured Cellulosics (Wood Derived Fibers): 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 globally. See Kohl’s Statement on Man Made Cellulosic Fiber here.
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 FY2021, 20% of 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.
Sustainable Brand Stories
With our private and exclusive brands representing more than 30% of our business and with categories across home, accessories, footwear and apparel, we aim to grow our offering of products with sustainable attributes. 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. The majority of Sonoma Goods For Life products are made using sustainable 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 select mix-and-match pieces made out of 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 or materials.
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 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%.
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 (2018-2021). 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. Learn more.
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 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.
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® 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.
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 13% across our portfolio.
- Environmental Policy
- CDP Climate Change Response 2022
- CDP Climate Change Response 2021
- Chemical Management Policy
- Restricted Substance List (RSL)
- ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL)
- Man-Made Cellulose Statement
- Fur Free Policy
Annual Report Archive