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Waste Management and Recycling

The waste we generate is one of our Company’s most material impacts, and we work hard to manage and reduce our waste footprint.

We have waste diversion programs in our Stores, Distribution Centers, and Corporate and Buying Offices, and we encourage our Associates to participate in practices that increase our recycling, reduce waste, and decrease our use of natural resources.

Much of the operational waste we produce at our Stores and Distribution Centers is from the packaging in which our merchandise is shipped. Because of our off-price business model, a lot of our merchandise is produced to other retailers’ specifications. We often do not have control over the types of packaging on our products, so we focus on developing and executing programs to reuse and recycle the packaging we receive.

Waste Diversion from Landfill

We measure the percentage of our waste that we divert from landfill across our retail operations. This measurement includes all Stores and Ross-controlled Distribution Centers and warehouses. In 2022, our estimated landfill diversion remained approximately 67 percent.*

2022 Waste Diversion

*This figure is approximate. We expect the accuracy of our waste measurements to improve over time.

Minimizing Waste in Stores

Approximately two-thirds of our operational waste is generated in our Stores; a significant portion of that waste is cardboard.

Because they represent such a large percentage of our waste footprint, cardboard boxes are an important part of our effort to reduce our waste and demonstrate our commitment to being a responsible retailer.

A majority of our Stores participate in a cardboard recycling program in which used boxes are backhauled to a regional facility, baled, and delivered to a recycling partner. This effort to recycle quickly adds up. Across participating Stores in 2022, we recycled over 35,000 tons of cardboard through the backhaul recycling program, and we are investigating opportunities to expand this program to more Stores.

In addition, we work with our local waste and recycling partners and with landlords to make cardboard recycling receptacles available whenever possible in locations where we are unable to backhaul.

Other recycling and waste reduction programs in our Stores include:

  • Reusable bags: We sell branded reusable shopping bags at our Stores.
  • Shopping bags with recycled content: All the plastic and paper shopping bags we provide to Customers contain recycled material.
  • Reusable hangers: We avoid single-use hangers when possible and have a reuse program for Store hangers.
  • Dumpster rightsizing: We continuously adjust the number of trash dumpsters and enhance collection schedules to help Stores optimize their recycling rates.
  • Service automation: We are implementing technology that ensures trash compactors are only serviced when full, reducing unnecessary pickups and hauling expenses.
  • Digital resources: To reduce paper waste, many of our reports, trainings, policies, and other resources are available digitally.
  • Other diversion programs: In certain geographies, we have pursued other diversion efforts, such as organic waste programs and single-stream recycling. We also have programs to manage regulated and electronic waste.

Minimizing Waste in Distribution Centers

Our Distribution Centers receive merchandise from many countries. We process and ship these goods to Stores across the country, typically in cardboard boxes.

We use a packing and shipping system that minimizes the number of boxes and trucks required to deliver merchandise, as well as a system to recycle the millions of boxes we receive each year. As a result, we recycled over 60,000 tons of material generated in our Distribution Centers in 2022.

We continuously look for ways to optimize how products are packaged for shipping, which includes working upstream with our suppliers and within our facilities to minimize unnecessary packaging materials when possible. We also reuse the cardboard boxes in which we receive merchandise from our suppliers when possible.

We test new recycling systems at our Distribution Centers and Stores, including ongoing efforts to recycle plastic film and scrap metal. In addition, we are piloting a program to recycle tires from our forklifts and other material handling equipment.

These efforts divert tons of waste from landfill. As an added benefit, they also help us reduce waste disposal costs.

In 2022, to help us divert waste from landfill while also supporting the communities we serve, we continued programs to donate unsellable merchandise to local nonprofits.

Minimizing Waste in Offices

Small changes in how we operate our offices also have a positive impact on the planet.

Examples of the initiatives that we had in place in 2022:

  • We continued to adapt our internal collaboration and reporting processes to use digital tools instead of paper. One such change to our printing process initiated in 2020 is expected to eliminate more than 100 tons of paper use annually.
  • Generally, when we do print, we try to minimize environmental impact by using paper that has postconsumer content; setting printers to print double-sided; and using large-capacity, refurbished toner cartridges that result in less plastic, steel, aluminum, and rubber waste as compared to traditional toners. We also have a program to recycle office paper.
  • In the café at our Corporate Office, we provide flatware and utensils that are reusable or compostable, and we encourage the use of reusable plates as well. We also supply deskside recycling bins and provide convenient organic waste and single-stream recycling receptacles in common areas.
  • The majority of our Associates receive electronic paychecks, which reduces paper use.
  • Hydration stations are available to reduce single-use plastic bottle waste.
  • An e-waste recycling program handles damaged or obsolete electronic equipment.
  • At our Buying Offices, we have programs to repurpose fabric scraps and donate product samples to local charities when possible.