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Waste Management


Although only about 4% of our total, calculated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from waste, teams throughout our business work to implement cost-effective strategies and processes to responsibly manage the waste materials resulting from our business operations, and we have implemented initiatives in our stores, distribution centers, and home offices to reduce, reuse, and recycle as we strive to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. We have learned that waste disposal programs work better when they are flexible and can adapt to our many different store configurations, as well as to the varying regulatory or legislative requirements in different regions. As our programs mature, we are working to find solutions for the responsible disposal of many different types of materials in our waste stream to avoid sending materials to landfills.

On a global level, we encourage collaboration across geographies to share best practices in waste operations, data collection, and strategy. Also on a global basis, we report on our waste, GHG emissions footprint and diversion rate,1 and include waste GHG emissions data in our Scope 3 emissions report in our CDP Climate response. We use the insights developed through our global waste data collection process to identify opportunities to improve our recycling and waste minimization efforts.

2018 Diversion Rates

Pie chart showing that the 2018 diversion rate in United States was 69%
Pie chart showing that the 2018 diversion rate in Canada was 89%
Pie chart showing that the 2018 diversion rate in Europe was 94%
Pie chart showing that the 2018 diversion rate in United States was 69%
Pie chart showing that the 2018 diversion rate in Canada was 89%
Pie chart showing that the 2018 diversion rate in Europe was 94%

Key Highlights


Only 4% of our reported GHG emissions comes from waste

  • Packaging

    Like many retailers, cardboard and other materials used to package our merchandise for shipping to our stores constitute the most significant volume in our waste stream. Throughout our geographies, we have many initiatives that target reduction, reuse, and recycling of many of these materials beginning with suppliers, through to our distribution centers, and on to the stores. We strive to include environmental impact analytics in the selection process for packaging materials where feasible.

    In 2017, a cross-functional team comprised of U.S. Logistics, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls Store Operations, and Distribution Services Associates piloted a project to maximize packaging reuse by leveraging our Asset Recovery and Recycling Centers (ARRCs) and their related distribution network. The team’s goal was to reduce the cost of corrugate purchases and lessen the environmental impacts of shipping, while still protecting merchandise as it travels to the store. Over the course of the year, the group implemented physical and process changes with the ARRCs and the distribution center network, which resulted in the return of reusable corrugate and plastic totes from our stores to the pilot distribution centers. The program was expanded in 2018 to more ARRCs, and as of the end of 2018, we had successfully transferred over 1.3 million reusable units of packaging materials through this pilot. We continue to assess the feasibility of implementing this across the U.S.

    We have analyzed the lifecycle impacts of some of our internal-packaging and fragile-packing materials in our T.J. Maxx and Marshalls distribution centers, as well as the impact of using plastic totes versus cardboard boxes in the U.S. We analyzed the impact of removing plastic bags from our packaging of liquid products during shipping from distribution centers to stores. The solution that we implemented utilizes a more easily recyclable material and corrugated box inserts and resulted in an estimated 12 million fewer plastic bags being used across our distribution network each year. Additionally, this packaging solution is being included in our reuse pilot and in 2018, we brought back over 725,000 items to our distribution centers as a result.

  • In our stores

    Across geographies, we have introduced recycling programs to many stores for common items like cardboard, plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass. To reduce the creation of paper waste, the majority of our store reports, training materials, and policies are available electronically. For customers, we offer reusable bags for sale in our stores.

    In Canada, in an effort to reduce plastic waste, a $0.05 fee for single-use bags is being rolled out in stores nationally. A portion of the proceeds from the fee will support environmental initiatives, which include the work of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, through the purchase of carbon offsets.

    In Europe, customers can purchase reusable bags – made from 90% recycled plastic and enhanced to be more durable in 2018 – under our “Bags for Life” program, and a portion of the proceeds goes to one of our charity partners. As noted above, in 2018, we also removed plastic bottles from our stores and replaced them with refreshments in containers made from glass or other recyclable materials.

  • In Our Distribution and Service Centers

    Virtually all of our distribution centers include designs to simplify the reuse and recycling of the corrugated cardboard we receive from our vendors. In addition to cardboard, some of our distribution centers have systems in place to recycle other materials, such as scrap metal, pallets, paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, and organics.

    In the U.S., our ARRCs are located within many service centers and serve as a central destination for regional recyclable or reusable store material. Select stores send used corrugated cardboard, plastic, excess hangers, store fixtures, display cases, unused boxes, and other supplies to their local ARRC, where the items are processed for reuse in other stores or recycled. As of 2018, we operated 18 ARRC locations in the U.S. These ARRCs service about 62% of our T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, and we plan to continue to open new locations that broaden this service across the nation.

    The flexibility of the ARRC organization enables us to test new programs as we strive to increase the types of materials that can be included in our recycling stream. For example, as our global waste stakeholders have identified Styrofoam as a key area of focus, our ARRC organization and network provides the operational testing sites for the Company to implement new technologies that enable better recycling of this material. In this pilot project, we used machinery that compresses and melts Styrofoam into blocks, which are then sent to recycling centers for reuse. In 2018, we were able to divert 15 metric tons of Styrofoam from landfills, and we expect to continue growing this program in the future. Thanks to this initiative and many others, in 2018 alone, the ARRCs helped divert more than 76,000 metric tons of waste from landfills. We are committed to expanding ARRCs across the nation to support our business.

    Our two distribution centers in Ontario, Canada have achieved the Recycling Council of Ontario’s 3R Silver Certification for outstanding policies and performance in responsible waste management. We encourage waste reduction and recyclability through our procurement policy, and have improved our diversion rate year over year for the last three years. In 2018, we achieved a combined approximately 95% diversion rate in our distribution centers!

    We are pleased to report that in 2018, our European processing centers diverted about 98% of their waste from landfills. We have replaced online bubble wrap packaging with a recycled paper alternative, are recycling waste streams that include plastic, wooden pallets, and cardboard, and now backhaul cardboard and plastics from select stores in the U.K. to processing centers. We continue to look for opportunities to add more stores to the trial and for closed-loop initiatives to support enhanced environmental performance. We also have established one of our ARRCs, which acts as a central destination for storage and distribution of excess hangers, store fixtures, display cases, and more.

  • In our Offices

    In many of our offices, we recycle close to 100% of white paper from our waste stream. Some of our offices have additional recycling programs to manage cans, bottles, batteries, plastic wrap, plastic items, corrugated cardboard, and printed materials.

    In our global headquarters buildings in Framingham and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as our Canadian and European corporate offices, we have removed waste bins from Associates’ workspaces and installed centrally located recycling bins for Associates to use. Also in Marlborough and Canada, we use cups, plates, napkins, and utensils that are either made from 100% compostable materials or are fully recyclable, and we have organic waste programs. In Europe, we have committed to removing single-use plastic across our operations, including no longer using plastic bottles in our offices. We monitor the success of all of these programs with our janitorial and Office Services staff and make adjustments to improve where necessary.

  • Recovery and Reuse Programs

    We have programs in place in the U.K., Ireland, and the U.S. that support the reuse of clothing, accessories, shoes, homeware, and more. While our primary goal for all of these initiatives has always been, and remains, to raise money for our charitable partners, we are very pleased that a few of the programs we support have the added benefit of adding to the useful life cycle of consumer products.

    In the U.K., T.K. Maxx Associates and customers have been recycling clothes, shoes, and homeware in-store since 2004 through our “Give up Clothes for Good” campaign, the U.K.’s biggest clothing donation program. The campaign allows people to drop off their donated goods at our stores. Over the past 15 years, together with our customers, we have donated over 1.5 million bags of items, which amounts to over 6,200 metric tons of pre-loved items diverted from landfills. We estimate that the reuse of these donated items helped avoid more than 140,000 metric tons of GHG emissions.2 In Ireland, T.K. Maxx Associates and customers have helped collect over 200,000 bags of clothing and household goods over the past 12 years, amounting to over 1,000 metric tons of unwanted items being given a “second life” and diverted from landfills. The Give up Clothes for Good campaigns have not only benefitted the environment, they have also raised millions of pounds for Cancer Research U.K. and Enable Ireland, our local charity partners.

    At our corporate headquarters, we donate qualified merchandise to charitable organizations, and in 2018, we donated nearly 140,000 items through our corporate program alone. Thanks also go to our corporate headquarters’ Associates, who donated clothes and accessories during our annual Goodwill “Put Your Clothes to Work” drive. This year we collected over 2,600 pounds of various items to be reused rather than sent to landfills! Additionally, as part of our Earth Day engagement campaigns, we encouraged Associates to bring in electronics to be responsibly recycled, resulting in about 3.7 metric tons of e-waste collected. That’s roughly the weight of a killer whale!

  • Reducing Water Consumption

    Although our business operations are not water intensive, we believe reducing water usage is consistent with both our low-cost operating philosophy and our commitment to environmental sustainability. To that end, we are continuing our efforts to monitor our water usage and identify opportunities to improve water efficiency. For instance, our Energy Management group in the U.S. collects water usage data across our facilities to identify opportunities for improvement. We use time-sensor technologies to control faucets in many of our restrooms, and, in the U.K., we monitor our direct water usage and work to reduce consumption in all stores. We have also benchmarked our consumption against similar retailers and evaluated our average daily usage for stores.

    Additionally, our TJX Vendor Code of Conduct strongly encourages our vendors to conserve and protect resources, such as water and energy, and also take into consideration environmental issues that may impact their local communities. Environmental concerns are incorporated into our vendor social compliance training materials as well, introducing high-level concepts of environmental sustainability like water conservation. Our training includes specific cost-saving, water-conservation recommendations for our suppliers that they may consider implementing at their production facilities. We plan to continue including similar relevant water facts during future training sessions.

1For TJX, diverted waste is either recycled or sent to facilities that convert waste to energy (w2e).
2GHG emissions estimate assumes that reused clothing avoids an equivalent amount of new clothing produced from virgin raw materials.