O R A E H DT T O
AS THE PATH TO A GREENER FUTURE IS BEING FORGED, THE INDUSTRY REFLECTS ON OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES
ome seven years ago, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all United Nations Member States. At the center of this action plan were the 17 SDGs, or sustainable development goals. These range from clean, affordable energy initiatives and a reduction in inequality to responsible production and consumption and a conscientious approach to water usage, all with the aim of tackling climate change and retaining a habitable ecosystem for all life on this planet. In the years since this framework was laid out, back in 2015, more and more attention has been given to environmental issues across the globe. Our industry included. Perhaps no group has been more maligned for its negative impact than fashion, textiles and denim, and conversely, it would be hard to find an industry more involved in fostering change. As we hit the halfway mark in this journey, we’re taking a look at what’s been accomplished and what lies ahead. Opportunities and obstacles. No public facing brand or manufacturer today could exist without having a blueprint for change and measures to be held accountable to its commitments. Whether it’s a reduction in emissions, a switch to more natural materials or reducing waste in packaging, companies across the board are prioritizing the road to a greener future as an integral part of their business plans. Inside this report, SJ speaks with legacy names like Tapestry, Nike and Ralph Lauren,
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as well as newer labels, like Reformation and Everlane that were formed with sustainability as a core part of their ethos, among many others. The goal is to find out just how far we have come on the Road to 2030, what systems and initiatives are working and where the potholes and pitfalls lie. If there was one central theme or commonality that came to light, or separated successful endeavors from those that were less so, it was collaboration. As “Support Systems” on page 25, illuminates, the denim industry is working hand in hand with innovative textile suppliers to make more circular and sustainable products. This theme of collaboration makes its way as a common thread across continents as it becomes more and more apparent that working together with common goals and ambitions is the only way to enact lasting, meaningful change. Godspeed. I’d also like to note that Sourcing Journal will be hosting a full-day event in person in New York and streamed virtually on June 1. “The Road to 2030” summit will bring together leading industry executives and creative outside thinkers for panels covering topics from transparency, to circularity to ESG, as well as one-on-one sit downs with the brands leading the movement to a more eco-friendly future. We’d love to see you there. Peter Sadera Editor in Chief Sourcing Journal
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Contents 02 11
The Full Scope
UN Sustainable Blueprint Charts the Long, Slow Road of Progress
New Alliance Seeks to Accelerate Fashion Industry’s Climate Action
Textile Firms Making Major Strides With NextGen Materials
European Green Deal Forges Forward
Nike Makes Strides Toward 2025 Goals
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Informa Markets Fashion 2022 Event Calendar Informa Markets Fashion connects the global fashion community through online experiences, industry insights, and worldwide fashion trade events.
May 16-17, 2022 Music City Center, Nashville
Includes Online Event: August 1 - September 30
August 8-10, 2022 SOURCING AT MAGIC OPENS AUG 7
Las Vegas Convention Center
July 16-18, 2022 Eden Roc, Miami
July 18-19, 2022 Iron 23, New York
September 18-20, 2022 Javits Center, New York
Join the fashion community at our upcoming 2022 events.
Adidas Working With Suppliers in Sustainability Push
Los Angeles Aims to Provide an Eco Template
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Rothy’s Evolving Quest for Circularity
Reformation Looks to Galvanize Industry Everlane Builds on ‘Radical Transparency’ Columbia Sportswear Builds on Sustainable Heritage Inditex Moves Toward Circularity
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supima.com Morning, Supima Field
Chosen for beauty, function and feel.
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Coach Takes Multipronged Approach to a Better Future Ralph Lauren Leans on Innovation to Promote Progress
Neiman Marcus Has Big Plans for Circularity
Consumer Appetite Adds Fuel to India Brands Pledge
How Science Saved the Industry in Tirupur
A ‘Green’ Oasis in Bangladesh
Target Tests First Net Zero Energy Store in California
Is Fashion Ready for SEC’s Carbon Disclosure Mandate?
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STAR WATTAGE FOR CIRUCLARITY GILDAN ACTIVEWEAR HAS SIGNED AN AMENDED AND RESTATED CREDIT AGREEMENT TO INCORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY-LINKED TERMS.
ildan Activewear Inc. said it has signed an amended and restated credit agreement to its existing $1 billion revolving credit facility to incorporate sustainability-linked terms, underscoring the company’s commitment toward its environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets. The amendment introduces an annual pricing adjustment based on the achievement of three of Gildan’s Next Generation ESG targets that were communicated at the beginning of this year. Gildan, based in Montreal, said is the first Canadian apparel manufacturing company to tie financing costs to the achievement of important ESG targets. “Sustainability is a key pillar of our Gildan Sustainable Growth strategy, and this sustainability-linked facility is further evidence of our pledge to making meaningful advancements by 2030 in the areas of climate change, circularity, and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Rhodri Harries, executive vice president, and chief financial and administrative officer at Gildan. The company also launched Gildan Respects, a global positioning of its ESG program and creative campaign supporting the company’s “Next Generation ESG” strategy. The amended and restated five-year revolving credit facility includes terms that reduce or increase the borrowing costs based on the company’s annual performance against three recently announced ESG targets. In climate change, Gildan aims to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent by 2030, in alignment with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the level of decarbonization required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In circularity, Gildan’s goal is to have 75 percent of its packaging and trims specific to apparel SKUs to contain recycled or sustainable materials by 2027. In diversity, equity, and inclusion, the achievement of gender parity by 2027 for Gildan’s employee group encompassing the director level and above is the target. BMO Financial Group is acting as lead sustainability structuring agent, and TD Financial Group and CIBC Financial Group are acting as co-lead sustainability structuring agents for Gildan’s sustainability-linked loan. — Arthur Friedman
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Leonardo DiCaprio-backed venture capital fund plans to invest $45 million in circular and regenerative materials, brands and reuse technologies. Regeneration.VC announced in March the final close of its inaugural fund “to supercharge consumer-powered innovation.” “Don’t Look Up” actor Leonardo DiCaprio and William McDonough, an architect and leader in sustainable development and design, will serve as strategic advisors. Other advisory board members include Bonobos founder Andy Dunn, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Wesley Clark and president of sustainable packaging company RCD Packaging Innovation Reyna Bryan. Participating limited partners include North American and European family offices, foundations and institutional investors. “Sustainability continues to attract a spotlight,” DiCaprio, also a limited partner, said in a statement. “We need forward-thinking approaches that perform measurably better for our planet. It’s time for people to feel good about their purchases and for businesses to meet that challenge—every bite of food, every T-shirt, every product counts. I am excited to help Regeneration.VC supercharge these solutions and begin to reverse the climate emergency.” Regeneration.VC’s portfolio currently includes Pangaia, the London-based sustainable fashion startup using Himalayan nettle to make jeans and wildflower “down” to create outerwear insulation. The fund’s other investments—it has five so far—include the lab-grown leather firm VitroLabs; the rental- and resale-as-a-service business Arrive; the compostable foam packaging creator Cruz Foam; and CleanO2, which sequesters and repurposes commercial building emissions into products like soap. — Chuck Dobrosielski
The Full Scope AS THE INDUSTRY LOOKS TO REDUCE ITS CARBON FOOTPRINT AND DECREASE THE AMOUNT OF HARM CAUSED TO THE ENVIRONMENT BY ITS PROCESSES, TRACKING AND ACCOUNTABILITY HAVE BECOME PARAMOUNT. THE FIRST STEP FOR MANY IS TO ESTABLISH A BASELINE AND SET GOALS FROM THERE. THIS USUALLY INCLUDES TARGETS FOR CUTTING SCOPE 1, 2 AND 3 EMISSIONS. HERE’S WHAT THAT MEANS.
Direct emissions from operations
Indirect emissions from purchased energy
All other emissions associated with a company’s activities
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UN Sustainable Blueprint Charts the Long, Slow Road of Progress THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENTAL GOALS LAID OUT BY THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION PROVIDE A ROAD MAP TO WHERE CHANGE IS NEEDED.
JASMIN MALIK CHUA
ike many people who champion the Sustainable Developmental Goals, or SDGs, Kerry Brannigan plays favorites. Hers—No. 17, which tackles partnerships—might be an obvious choice but that’s because collaboration infuses so much of the work she does. As founder of the Conscious Fashion Campaign, itself a team endeavor by the Fashion Impact Fund, the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the Pvblic Foundation, Brannigan raises awareness of the SDGs in the fashion sector through conferences, trade shows and, more recently, the creation of the virtual platform known as the Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network, where she plans to provide more opportunities for different stakeholders to engage. Enshrined by the UN Global Compact in 2015, the SDGs lay out a sweeping vision of a better world by 2030. With 17 “umbrellas” and nearly 170 specific targets in all, they serve as a “blueprint” for spurring poverty alleviation, gender equality, clean and affordable energy, climate action, decent work and biodiversity protection through a “visual and unified language,” Brannigan said. Fashion, with its scope, scale and influence, touches all 17 of the goals, though three of them—No. 5: gender equality, No. 12: responsible consumption and production and No. 13: climate action—spring most readily to mind. While the industry, as a
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whole, has struggled to shake off its reputation as a massive polluter that fuels exploitation in the global South, the SDGs present an opportunity to “flip the narrative,” allowing brands, manufacturers and designers to improve clothing and footwear production beyond a vague but deceptively complex notion of “sustainability,” Brannigan said. Many of them are interconnected as well— pulling on one lever can affect others. Fashion’s nameplates are increasingly broadcasting the roles the SDGs play in their longer-term business plans. Mara Hoffman, for instance, has pegged its partnership with The Renewal Workshop to repair and refresh gently used and damaged garments to the aforementioned SDGs 12 and 17. Similarly, when Lee and Wrangler owner Kontoor Brands published its first sustainability report in 2020, it connected commitments relating to energy, water, worker wellbeing, materials and chemistry to specific SDGs. Last March, the H&M Foundation rolled out its Impatient Manifesto, touting the urgency of achieving the SDGs by the end of the decade in mind. The following month, J.Crew cited the SDGs as an inspiration for its corporate social responsibility initiative, dubbed Re-imagined by J.Crew. Lenzing, an early adopter, has long used the goals to inform innovations such as Refibra, made in part by upcycling cotton scraps from garment production, and its
carbon-zero Tencel branded lyocell and modal fibers. Because the SDGs offer a lens for examining your existing sustainability plans, said Tricia Carey, director of global business development at the Austrian fiber manufacturer, “they almost reinforce what you’re already doing.” But never have the stakes been higher—or the challenges greater, calling into question if current measures are sufficient. In February, UN secretary-general António Guterres described the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment as an “atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” with “fact upon fact” that reveals how people and the planet are “getting clobbered by climate change.” Covid-19, too, has put many companies’ resolve to the test, causing sustainability initiatives to take a step back as they dealt with more immediate threats to their bottom lines. Increasing geopolitical conflict is also wreaking havoc on vital supply-chain operations with wideranging consequences. The dearth of data about the number of fashion companies that have adopted the SDGs, let alone how they’re progressing on them, is another sticking point that Simone Cipriani, chair of the steering committee of the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, is working to change. Such information will allow stakeholders to identify where the goals are thriving and where they are falling behind at a regional level, which can in turn trigger any necessary changes in policies or business incentives. The surge in ESG and climate disclosure frameworks over the years has also made implementing the SDGs more complicated, not because they’ve lost relevance but because disparate reporting demands can get confusing, Cipriani said. In September, the Ethical Fashion Initiative, which serves as the secretariat for the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, debuted with the Italian Chamber of Fashion the ESG Due Diligence and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Framework, which employs an “SDG perspective” to allow consistent reporting on so-called “sustainable value creation.” Several of the leading standards groups, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Sustainability Accounting
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Standards Board (SASB) have also responded to confusion about integrating the goals by mapping their standards to the SDGs, allowing companies to reconcile different sets of metrics that are for the most part complementary. “Our analysis found that 98 percent of the industry-specific topics included in SASB standards are related to one or more SDG targets,” Janine Guillot, director of investor outreach at SASB, wrote in 2020. “With such considerable overlap, we believe SASB standards can help both companies and investors identify the SDG targets most relevant to financial and operational performance in a given industry. This, in turn, will enable them to allocate financial capital and other resources to the SDG themes most consistent with their financial risk-and-return objectives.’” Even so, mixed news about the adoption of the SDGs and the speed at which they are progressing abounds. Though four in five companies that align with GRI now incorporate the goals into their sustainability reports, for example, fewer than half have established quantifiable targets for tracking their fulfillment, according to a study published in January by the international standards organization in collaboration with ratings platform Support the Goals. A smaller fraction—20 percent—includes evidence that measures any positive impacts. “It is encouraging…that we are seeing most GRI reporting companies commit to alignment with the SDGs,” Peter Paul van de Wijs, chief external affairs officer at GRI said in a statement. “The urgent next step is to ramp up the role of the private sector in contributing to solutions for fulfilling the goals, which requires more in-depth and quantifiable disclosure, which links SDG performance with business strategy. Doing so [will not] only increase progress on the goals but it can also unlock opportunities for innovation and collaboration.” In the Asia-Pacific region, where 75 percent of the world’s garment workers reside, progress has not only proven insufficient but has in fact decelerated with each passing year, widening the chasm between the haves and have-nots, according to a recent report by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). An upswell in the frequency and intensity of natural
“The urgent next step is to ramp up the role of the private sector in contributing to solutions for fulfilling the goals, which requires more in-depth and quantifiable disclosure.” — Peter Paul van de Wijs, GRI
Visit cottontoday your resource for fact-based information about cotton sustainability. cottontoday.cottoninc.com
AMERICA’S COTTON PRODUCERS AND IMPORTERS. Service Marks / Trademarks of Cotton Incorporated. ©2022 Cotton Incorporated
and human-made disasters, along with the challenge of responding to Covid-19, it said, has weighed on efforts to improve food security, education and overall livelihoods for women, persons with disabilities, rural households and other vulnerable populations that bear the brunt of economic fallouts. At its current pace, the Asia-Pacific region is now only expected to achieve the SDGs by 2065—a jarring three-and-a-half-plus decades beyond the original target. “A better understanding of development outcomes for distinct population groups and intersecting vulnerabilities is key to a fairer recovery,” Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN under-secretary-general and ESCAP executive secretary, wrote in the foreword of the report. “The SDGs cannot be achieved without protecting the most vulnerable, many of whom have been particularly affected by the pandemic. In this time of great change and difficult challenges, there is an urgent need to redouble efforts to fully implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially for those furthest behind.” A 2020 report by Social Progress Imperative (SPI), a Washington, D.C. think tank based on the social performance of 163 countries over the past 10 years, had an even bleaker prognosis. Even without the additional wrinkle of Covid-19, SPI found that the world’s progress, which went up from 60.63 points out of 100 in 2011 to 62.24 in 2020, is “still not enough” to hit all 17 SDGs. “Worrying” declines over the past 10 years in personal rights, which fell 5.17 points between 2016 and 2020,
and inclusiveness, which dipped 3.48 points between 2011 and 2020, have followed the rise of populist and authoritarian governments, it said. If the Covid-induced backsliding continues, the world will not achieve the SDGs until 2092 at the earliest, or more than 60 years after the original goal. “The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities and flaws throughout our society. Covid-19 has bred on poverty, racial injustice and gender inequity,” SPI CEO Michael Green said at the time. “These problems will worsen as a result of the pandemic, through its impact on education, on healthcare, on work and basic safety nets. In sum, the world faces a potential lost decade of progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is a unique moment to use these challenges as an opportunity for systemic change and to make real social progress.” Cara Smyth, who leads Accenture’s ESGdriven measures in responsible retail and is the founder of the Responsible Business Coalition at Fordham University, sees the post-pandemic era as a hopeful one even though so much still needs to be done. The holistic approach that the SDGs provide, she added, is key. “I have a good friend who always says that life sort of freezes in one place and then melts quickly and takes on another form,” Smyth said. “We’ve gone through a period in history where the way things were done no longer fits humanity, no longer fits the planet. So let’s rebuild it. Let’s reset it.”
“These problems will worsen as a result of the pandemic, through its impact on education, on healthcare, on work and basic safety nets. In sum, the world faces a potential lost decade of progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” — Michael Green, SPI
IN 2015 THE UN PUT INTO PLACE THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WHICH INCLUDED 17 SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS.
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New Alliance Seeks to Accelerate Fashion Industry’s Climate Action GLOBAL FASHION AGENDA AND THE UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE WANT “BOLD ACTIONS.”
JASMIN MALIK CHUA
he organizers of two of the world’s most prestigious sustainability events are joining forces to turbocharge the fashion industry’s climate ambitions. Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced last month a “new alliance” to bring together industry stakeholders to implement the “bold actions” needed to fulfill the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which commits signatories such as Adidas, H&M, Gucci parent Kering and Zara owner Inditex to slash their emissions by half over the next decade and hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The collaboration, which will “activate” around their respective Global Fashion Summit (formerly the Copenhagen Fashion Summit) and Conference of Parties forums, will bring together relevant experts to share knowledge, discuss tools and forge additional partnerships, they said. Besides contributing to the Summit’s content, The UNFCC will also hold its annual Fashion Charter at the event. This collaboration will extend to future editions of the Global Fashion Summit as it expands beyond Copenhagen.
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“GFA is striving to create impactful alliances that can accelerate the fashion industry’s transition to a net-zero reality,” GFA CEO Federica Marchionni said in a statement. “We are therefore thrilled to be collaborating with UNFCCC as its Fashion Charter is an essential tool to mobilize the necessary industry transformation. Through our collaboration, we hope to bring together core fashion stakeholders, foster pre-competitive collaboration and provide even deeper insights and guidance to advance progress.” The Summit aside, the two powerhouses will continue to work together to “elevate” publications such as GFA’s Fashion CEO Agenda, a tool-slash-“vision statement” that lists key priorities that executives must focus on to future-proof both their business interests and those of the planet. Global Fashion Agenda will also participate in Fashion Charter meetings during COP27 to raise awareness about the industry’s biggest issues and priorities while extracting commitments from leaders to “drive change within social, environmental and circular dimensions.” “We are excited for this opportunity to reinforce our collaboration with the Global
“We’re less than eight-and-a-half years away from 2030…and we continue to see companies putting out more promises and making commitments, but not really backing up their commitments with action.” — Muhannad Malas, Stand.earth
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AP PHOTO/ALBERTO PEZZALI
Fashion Agenda,” said Niclas Svenningsen, climate action manager at UNFCCC. “The climate crisis is today the paramount issue for the fashion sector to address. While the Fashion Charter brings together a wide range of stakeholders to work collaboratively on solutions, the Global Fashion [Summit] is an important venue for broader sustainability discussions in the fashion sector. We see many opportunities for further strengthening and highlighting both the sustainability and the climate work through this collaboration.” According to a 2020 study by Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey & Company, if no further action is taken over the next decade “beyond measures already in place,” the industry’s carbon emissions will likely swell by roughly 2.7 billion metric tons a year by 2030, accounting for an annual volume growth rate of 2.7 percent and expanding beyond the global warming limit required to align with the Paris Agreement. A recent report by environmental group Stand.earth called fossil fuels the “elephant in the room” that brands and retailers don’t like to talk about. The “runway to 2030” is getting shorter every day, yet fashion supply chains are making glacial efforts to decarbonize, Muhannad Malas, senior climate campaigner at Stand.earth, told Sourcing Journal last year. “It’s quite troubling to see the persistent inaction in the sector,” he said. “We’re less than eight-and-a-half years away from 2030. And we continue to see companies putting out more promises and making commitments, but not really backing up their commitments with action.” Malas, reacting to the GFA and UNFCCC announcement, said that the partnership needs to focus on facilitating “effective collaboration” within the sector to transition to renewable energy. “As one of the biggest climate polluters globally, the urgency for action from fashion brands cannot be understated,” he said. “We hope that this new alliance will help accelerate fashion companies’ transition to renewable energy and materials throughout their supply chains by the end of the decade. The new alliance should also
encourage increased transparency in the sector to help address greenwashing and prevent false solutions that may exacerbate climate impacts or the burden on racialized communities who are already experiencing the brunt of pollution from the extraction and use of fossil fuels, and fashion’s waste.” In November, the Apparel Impact Institute (Aii) and the World Resources Institute published a paper that pegged several “interventions” or “levers” that can drive more than 60 percent of the necessary reductions to limit global temperature increases, including maximizing material efficiency, scaling sustainable materials and practices, improving energy efficiency, accelerating the development of “next generation” materials, transitioning to renewable electricity and eliminating coal in manufacturing. “The reality is we are not set to meet targets currently if we don’t triple down, quadruple down and rapidly accelerate the work,” Lewis Perkins, president of Aii, which is building a $250 million Fashion Climate Fund, previously told Sourcing Journal. “Scaling to clean energy is not a new innovation; it just needs to systemically happen. The hard part is not so much that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we need to increase the rate at which we’re doing it.”
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS MARCH THROUGH THE STREETS OF GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, THE HOST CITY OF THE COP26 U.N. CLIMATE SUMMIT.
Celebrating 30 years of sustainable fiber innovation
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Textile Firms Making Major Strides With Next-Gen Materials FUELED BY INNOVATION AND AN INCREASING CALL BY THE INDUSTRY, GREENER INPUTS ARE COMING TO MARKET IN DROVES.
A RT H U R F R I E D M A N
extile and material manufacturers have ramped up their sustainability offerings with fresh investments and innovations aimed at improving their environmental profiles. Whether it’s concrete steps to advance their carbon footprint as part of their longterm goals or research and development that has led to innovative new materials, notably in the io-based sphere, these companies are making major strides toward of the use of newer or better engineered fibers and fabrics. In many cases, the inspiration is self-imposed, while in others, it is answering the call from fashion firms and consumers for better production and material usage. The Material Innovation Initiative’s (MII) first “Brand Engagement with Next-Gen Materials: 2022 Landscape” report detailed how Ugg, Gucci, Mercedes-Benz and more than 100 other companies in the fashion, automotive and home goods industries are using next-gen materials to meet shifting consumer demand, increase environmental sustainability and address growing animal welfare concerns. Created through a variety of biomimicry approaches, these high-performance, sustainable, animal-free materials replicate
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the aesthetics and performance of leather, wool, silk, down, fur and exotic skins with environmentally friendly production. Collaborations include Adidas and Bolt Threads, Allbirds and Natural Fiber Welding, Nike and Piñatex, Ugg and Lenzing, Gucci and Demetra, H&M and Pangaia, Hermès and MycoWorks and Stella McCartney also with Bolt Threads. “With so many new next-gen material options coming to market, brands and consumers will soon enjoy a plethora of exciting options rather than outdated animal-based leather, wool, silk, down, fur and exotic skins,” MII CEO Nicole Rawling said. “Increased policies, regulations, standards and certifications, while good, are not enough. We need a new solution that gives both brands and consumers the high quality and reasonably priced products they need without the negative effects on the environment and animals. Next-gen materials are that solution.” In that vein, Fashion for Good launched the Untapped Agricultural Waste Project to validate and scale technologies that can successfully transform agricultural waste into sustainable textile fibers. With catalytic funding provided by the Laudes Foundation, Fashion for Good partners Adidas, Bestseller,
“Increased policies, regulations, standards and certifications, while good, are not enough. We need a new solution that gives both brands and consumers the high quality and reasonably priced products they need without the negative effects on the environment.” — Nicole Rawling, Material Innovation Initiative
Vivobarefoot and Birla Cellulose, the consortium project will assess the technical feasibility of natural fibers created by selected innovators using agricultural waste such as rice husks, hemp, wheat straw, banana and pineapple. The six fiber innovators–AltMat, Bananatex, Chlorohemp, Agraloop by Circular Systems, HempTex India and 9Fiber–will be further developing a variety of different natural fibers and fiber blends with a focus on trialing the highest percentage of agricultural waste use, while also achieving the necessary performance requirements. Fiber insulation companies are also taking up the environmental improvement mantle. The Lycra Company debuted Thermolite EcoMade fiber made from 100 percent textile waste, while Gordini partnered with Thindown by NIPI (Natural Insulation Products Inc.) to bring its patented down fabric insulation to gloves. At the same time, major cellulosic fiber producers are putting their money where their mouth is. The Lenzing Group, a leading supplier of wood-based specialty fibers, has successfully completed a major $450 million lyocell expansion project in Thailand. The new plant, which Lenzing said is the largest of its kind with a capacity of 100,000 tons per year, will help to better meet the increasing customer demand for Tencel branded lyocell fibers. For Lenzing, the project also represents an important step toward strengthening its position in the specialty fiber market and into a carbon-free future. Robert van de Kerkhof, chief commercial officer at Lenzing, said the plant expansion is important because “it’s really about sustainability” and described Lenzing’s lyocell fiber as “one of the most sustainable fibers that currently exists.” In 2019, Lenzing made a strategic commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions per ton of product by 50 percent by 2030. The target is to be climate-neutral by 2050. Due to the established infrastructure, the site in Thailand can be supplied with sustainable biogenic energy and contribute significantly to climate protection. Van de Kerkhof said Lenzing will continue to expand its production capacity for lyocell
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fibers in line with its sCore TEN strategy, which aims to generate 75 percent of its fiber revenue from eco-responsible specialty fibers such as Tencel. “We have a very ambitious goal of reducing 50 percent of our Co2 emissions per ton of product by 2030 and we have the interim goal of 40 percent reduction of CO2 from Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 2024,” Lenzing’s new vice president of corporate sustainability, Krishna Manda, told Sourcing Journal. Eastman announced its plan to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. This facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tons annually of hard-torecycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated. The investment would create virgin-quality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint. In some cases, apparel brands are partnering with textile innovators to create better products. Hugo Boss became a front-runner in the race to adopt HeiQ AeoniQ yarns, putting a $5 million equity investment in HeiQ AeoniQ LLC and an additional contingent $4 million based on performance milestone arrangements. The Lycra Company also become the exclusive distributor for HeiQ AeoniQ yarn by making a significant, undisclosed investment and by committing to develop the technology for broad application in textiles. The new funds will help scale up and commercialize the technology behind the brand. In this context, HeiQ AeoniQ will build
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its first commercial giga factory in Central Europe by the end of 2024 and is currently scaling up its pilot commercialization plant for fiber production, scheduled for the second quarter of 2022. HeiQ AeoniQ is a continuous cellulosic filament yarn made out of cellulosic biopolymers that during growth bind carbon from the atmosphere. HeiQ AeoniQ yarn is designed to substitute existing oil-based filament yarns, such as environmentally persistent polyester and nylon that constitute more than 60 percent of global annual textile output of 111 million metric tons. HeiQ AeoniQ yarns are also designed to be circular, use 100 percent renewable energy for manufacturing and feature closed-loop recycling of more than 99.5 percent of productive factors, use no toxic chemicals and do not draw on arable land, pesticides or fertilizers for its feedstock. Following the push to rid the industry of harmful chemicals, Milliken & Company announced a commitment to eliminate all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS,
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from the company’s textile finishes and fibers portfolio. “As a values-driven company, we’re always evaluating the needs and demands of the markets we serve,” said Chad McAllister, executive vice president, Milliken & Company. “Our promise to our customers is to engineer the highest-quality protective and performance textiles, and our purpose is to positively impact the world for generations.” In the home textiles realm, Standard Fiber, furthering its commitment to sustainability and minimizing environmental impact, launched a carbon reduction program where, beginning in March, the supplier to the home textile market and manufacturer of basic bedding products, will invest in carbon offsets for all cargo containers of textiles it exports from Asia to customers in the U.S. and 20 other countries. Standard Fiber said its carbon offsets will fund accredited carbon reduction programs such as protecting rainforest ecosystems from deforestation in Brazil and renewable energy programs on tribal lands in the U.S.
THE LENZING GROUP, A LEADING SUPPLIER OF WOOD-BASED SPECIALTY FIBERS, HAS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED A MAJOR $450 MILLION LYOCELL EXPANSION PROJECT IN THAILAND.
Support Systems BRANDS AND THEIR SUPPLIERS ARE TRADING KNOWLEDGE TO ACCELERATE AND REFINE SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES FOR THE DENIM INDUSTRY.
A N G E LA V E LA S Q U E Z
weatshirts made with banana and pineapple leaf fibers were just the start of Pangaia’s exploratory approach to innovating fabrics intended for everyday fashion. The sustainability-focused materials science and apparel company introduced its first denim collection last fall made in partnership with former Levi’s designer and Unspun advisor Jonathan Cheung. True to form, the collection was made with a first-of-its-kind fabric: a 13-ounce, 92 percent organic cotton and 18 percent Himalayan nettle blend woven at low speeds on Candiani Denim’s shuttle loom. The use of Himalayan nettle marked the first time that selvedge denim has been made with fiber, maintaining Pangaia’s mission to develop alternatives to “overproduced, resource-intensive materials such as cotton.” The company had looked at hemp and agriculture waste fibers for denim, but nettle showed the greatest potential. Durable and sustainable, the fiber ticked off Pangaia’s boxes. Additionally, the linguini-shaped fiber’s hollow core provides thermoregulating properties. Denim brands—be it small-yet-disruptive labels like Pangaia, or category-leading names like Levi’s and Wrangler—are increasingly showing up to support (and sometimes create) emerging technologies that have the potential to benefit the greater industry. Waiting for a tested and proven eco-alternative solution to be shopped around the market doesn’t cut it anymore for brands with ambitious long-term sustainability goals to work toward. Brands are sending their designers, sustainability officers and R&D teams into the labs to accelerate innovations.
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“We believe interest shown by a leading brand can help catapult a technology forward by providing endorsement and support for ideas that may need a catalyst,” said Dhruv Agarwal, Kontoor Brands senior director of innovation, sustainability and product development. Along with applying product and market knowledge, brands serve as guides for nonnative denim firms faced with navigating the category’s unique nuances like indigodyeing, washing and finishing. “For example, during the R&D and testing process, we can support the fine-tuning of new technologies to optimize them for denim applications,” Agarwal said. “We can also provide empirical data and analytic support to assess tradeoffs and iterate technical designs to improve performance. In many cases, we have found that our involvement can make the difference between an innovation making it to the market versus gathering dust on a laboratory shelf.” In Pangaia’s case, the London-based company teamed with Cheung, who is credited with galvanizing Levi’s comeback after two decades of decline, to work on producing a nettle fabric that is sustainable, durable and attractive. With the help of Candiani Denim owner Alberto Candiani, he landed on a fabric that he said is widely applicable to different types of garments and has a layer of softness to counteract the nettle fiber’s toughness. Developing the collection during covid came with “massive amounts of challenges,” but it also incentivized stakeholders to work differently. The first samples were rendered in 3D before the team moved into physical
“What keeps us motivated is the reach of true circularity, thanks to products and processes that may generate a positive impact on the environment.” — Alberto Candiani, Candiani Denim
fittings, most of which took place over Zoom. “This is an opportunity for disruption, and so you can try out new things. The status quo is interrupted, so why not try something new,” said Dr. Amanda Parkes, Pangaia chief innovation officer. As with all new innovations, working with the nettle blend was not without its trials and tribulations. Though it has the benefit of being an “extraordinarily strong” fiber, nettle does not have the same flexibility of cotton, which presents challenges during the weaving process. Cheung said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were still “bits of broken machinery” on Candiani’s floor. “Trial and error are an essential part of R&D,” Candiani added. “Of course, you don’t want to make too many mistakes, but you have to learn and adjust the recipe when they occur. What keeps us motivated is the reach of true circularity, thanks to products and processes that may generate a positive impact on the environment.” Candiani is well-versed in creating new sustainable technologies with the assistance of brands. The Milanese mill linked with long-term partner Dutch label Denham when it launched its patented biodegradable Coreva Stretch technology. The mill created the denim from organic cotton wrapped around a natural rubber core. By replacing the common synthetic and petrol-based elastomers with a new, custom-engineered component, Candiani landed on biodegradable stretch denim fabric without compromised elasticity and recovery properties. Founder Jason Denham described the three-part process to bring the first Coreva stretch jeans to market, which he did in November 2019. “First, Candiani shared the concept with us which we loved,” he said. “Second, Candiani used their own technical expertise to build a material that looks good, performs and passes all [their strict standards]. Third, the Denham team tested the fabric in garment form for shrinkage control, sewing control and laundry aesthetic and touch.” While creative collaborations are efficient in generating instant bursts of buzz, collaborations like the one between Denham and Candiani are critical in scaling
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sustainable innovations. For Denham, he said the work is important yet comes easy because the two companies “share the same values and responsibility to make innovative, beautiful, quality, ethical denim.” Up next, Denham said he is busy working with Chinese mill Advance Denim to develop a line called Zero Denim that addresses challenges in cotton production. “In the future, all cars will be produced without engines. It’s not inconceivable that jeans will not have cotton. We are always open to innovate and move forward,” he said. “We have long standing relationships with all our mills and vendors,” Denham added. “We are in this together, we grow together.” Infinna, a recyclable virgin-quality fiber that’s created from cotton-rich textile waste, received a helping hand from a denim giant before it was even a business. Wrangler’s first denim products made with Infinna fiber launched in the European market last fall, but the road to get there began in 2015 when the brand’s innovation team partnered with researchers at VTT Technical Research Centre in Espoo, Finland to evaluate and refine the technology at an early stage. “We quickly realized the potential for this new fiber and worked to support its advancement,” Agarwal said. A company eventually was formed around the technology and the VTT scientists who led the development efforts, resulting in the creation of the Infinited Fiber Company. Wrangler went on to complete preliminary trials on Infinna fabrics, providing the Infinited Fiber team with a “clear roadmap” of what a successful regenerated and recycled fiber needed to look like and ensuring that the fiber’s technical innovation was balanced with commercial viability. Throughout this process, Wrangler identified key learnings that allowed the brand to further fine-tune the fiber quality before it launched in the Fall 2021 collection as jeans and jackets made with 30 percent Infinna and 70 percent cotton blended fabric. “At Kontoor, we are constantly looking for new technologies that can improve and enhance our products and processes in ways that address the evolving needs of our consumers and advance our business within
“The decision to identify and support a technology isn’t an easy process. It often takes a lot of patience and requires a collaborative approach.” — Dhruv Agarwal, Kontoor Brands
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our framework of people, products, planet,” Agarwal said. While a company like Kontoor can develop technologies internally, Agarwal points out that it also has the flexibility to support and draw upon external sources of innovation. “This means we actively monitor new innovations from idea inception through commercialready solutions to identify those that can have a positive impact on our business,” he said. Factors that make one technology standout over another include technical feasibility, cost and its ability to deliver meaningful benefits. “The decision to identify and support a technology isn’t an easy process. It often takes a lot of patience and requires a collaborative approach,” Agarwal said. “When we do decide to support an emerging technology—whether internal or external—we remain focused on maximizing its potential for positive impact.”
Fabrics are just one piece of the puzzle. Jeans wouldn’t be the icon they are without the signature indigo hue and via collaborations heritage brands are stepping up to the plate to ensure it has a sustainable future. In 2021, Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) forged a partnership with the Dutch accelerator Fashion for Good to support the development of sustainable and circular innovation. Its first project is a collaboration with U.S. indigo producer Stony Creek Colors to scale the use of IndiGold dye, the firm’s plant-based, pre-reduced indigo. Founded by Sarah Bellos in 2012, Stony Creek Colors champions traceable plant-based dyes as an alternative to the petroleum-derived synthetic indigo that has soaked and polluted the industry for decades. IndiGold can be integrated into an indigo pre-reduction system by using hydrogen as the reduction agent, thereby eliminating harmful byproducts from both the pre-reduction and the dyeing process. The company joined Fashion for Good’s accelerator program in March 2021, following a Series B financing round totaling more than $9 million. The pilot, however, is not Stony Creek’s first touch point with the denim giant.
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It is a continuation of LS&Co.’s existing work with Stony Creek Colors and its “exploration of the potential of plant-based dyes.” Levi’s WellThread collection, which serves as a platform for the brand’s R&D lab’s sustainable innovations, has previously used Stony Creek’s plant-based dyes. The Fall/Winter 2021 collection, for example, featured vibrant natural indigo denim made with organic cotton and cottonized hemp fabrics by Cone Denim—one of Stony Creek’s earliest collaborators. What is new is how through the pilot LS&Co. brings its nearly 150-years of experience and technical know-how in jeans to the table, while Stony Creek provides its IndiGold indigo dye to select denim mills to run performance trials with different denim dyeing systems. The companies aim to unlock additional key learnings around shade application and other efficiencies and share the goal to deliver additional garments dyed with IndiGold on the market by late 2022 and early 2023. “This is a great opportunity to expand that work and more fully realize the potential of this innovation,” said Jeffrey Hogue, LS&Co.’s chief sustainability officer. The technology behind Wrangler’s game changing Indigood fabrics also didn’t just land on the company’s doorstep. The transformative foam-dyeing process, which uses at least 90 percent less water compared to conventional methods and removes chemical substances almost entirely from the dyeing process, was developed in collaboration with Gaston Systems Inc., Texas Tech University and Indigo Mill Designs with early-stage funding for
KONTOOR BRANDS-OWNED WRANGLER IS AMONG THOSE USING THE REGENERATED FIBER, INFINNA, IN SOME COLLECTIONS.
development provided by Wrangler and Walmart. The process allows fabric mills to produce smaller quantities, when desired, than with conventional processes. Smaller fabric runs allow for greater design and marketing flexibility in the denim industry. It was introduced in the market exclusively by Tejidos Royo at the April 2018 Kingpins show in Amsterdam. Wrangler released the first collection made with the technique in June 2019, a range of men’s and women’s indigo jeans, jacket and shirting offered in two washes. The Spanish mill went on to launch the same technology for black denim called Dry Black in 2020. “By actively engaging during the development process of this technology, we believe Kontoor brought a sense of urgency and purpose to the table,” Agarwal said. “Not only did we invest meaningful capital to advance foam dyeing technology, but we also brought our technical expertise to support the researchers and engineers working to bring this technology to the market. Kontoor’s commercial size and strong commitment to foam dyeing technology provided both the validation and scale we believe was needed during the development process to ensure its ultimate success.” The innovation landed Tejidos Royo accolades from the European Commission and it went on to be the launching pad for Wrangler’s Indigood program, an initiative that targets water savings during the fabric construction phase of the apparel supply chain. The program expanded in 2021 to include any water savings technology in apparel fabric production that uses at least 90 percent less water than conventional fabric production. Kontoor Brands also added certification component last fall called the Indigood Facility Certification. Textile manufacturing facilities using 90 percent less freshwater than conventional fabric production may qualify for full certification. Programs and the technologies that inspire then, like Indigood, are having a positive effect. As of March 2021, Kontoor
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Brands has saved more than 8 billion liters of waters through such initiatives. The wheels are always turning at Kontoor. In addition to other “exciting partnerships in the pipeline,” Agarwal said Kontoor is exploring the potential of graphene, an extremely lightweight and strong material that can conduct energy and enhance thermal dynamics and connect to smart technology. “We believe graphene could help revolutionize the apparel market,” he said. The company is also working to bring traceability and scale to the textile-grade cottonized hemp grown and processed in the United States through a partnership with Dallas-based Panda Biotech. Industrial hemp is a regenerative crop due to its ability to grow with little water, minimal-to-no pesticides and herbicides, production of a high per acre fiber yield, and absorption of more carbon dioxide per acre than any forest or commercial crop. “While it’s still early days in the effort to commercialize and develop textile products with hemp in the Americas, we see real potential in this fiber as a complement to traditional cotton,” Agarwal said. Though the innovation behind each collaboration varies, they share a common goal to make all stakeholders—from the technology company, brand, end consumer and Mother Nature—winners. “For researchers and startup companies, such close collaboration can draw-in outside capital and technical resources, fill in crucial data gaps during the development process, and provide important commercial validation and support,” Agarwal said. “For Kontoor, these tightly coordinated collaborations offer an important opportunity for us to provide valuable input during development to iterate and refine the technology in ways which better positions our products for commercial success.” “We view this level of collaboration as enabling both an acceleration of innovation and resulting in a better product,” he said.
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European Green Deal Forges Forward DESPITE SETBACKS AMID THE PANDEMIC, THE MULTINATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY EFFORT IS “VERY MUCH ON TRACK.” JASMIN MALIK CHUA
n “eco” label that rates the environmental footprint of a sneaker or a T-shirt. Mandatory thresholds for product durability, repairability or recycled content. Penalties for burning or shredding unwanted goods. As the European Union prepares to roll out its package of much-anticipated— if oft-delayed—measures to reduce the climate impact of textile production and create a level playing field across its member states, the question of what makes an item of fashion “eco-friendly” could soon get an answer. All of the actions—chief among them the Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, the Sustainable Product Policy Initiative, the Substantiating Green Claims Initiative and the Empowering Consumers in the Green Transition Initiative, which frequently reference and overlap one another—fall loosely under the auspices of the Circular Economy Action Plan, itself a “building block” of the EU’s sweeping ambition to zero out its carbon emissions by 2050 and decouple economic growth from resource use. Despite several deadline postponements by Brussels in the face of Covid-19 disruptions, the so-called European
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Green Deal is “very much on track,” said Jori Keijsper, communication advisor for European Commission executive vice president Frans Timmermans, who is spearheading the $2-trillion effort to establish the first “climate-neutral continent,” with far-reaching consequences for jobs and livelihoods in the 27-member trade bloc. Long before any specifics could be hammered out, the EU had flagged textiles as a “priority sector” for accelerating a carbonneutral, circular economy where products are designed for durability, reusability, repairability, recyclability and energy efficiency. The European Energy Agency estimates that clothing, footwear and household textiles make up the continent’s second-highest pressure category for land use, the fourth-highest for raw-material and water use and the fifth-highest for greenhouse-gas emissions, even though the bulk of those impacts happens in other parts of the world where production takes place. The average European consumes 26 kilograms of textiles—and discards 11 kilograms of them—every year, it added. Because the textile supply is so highly globalized, only a “coordinated and harmonized response” will be able to address
structural shortcomings with textile waste collection, sorting and recycling while boosting the bloc’s ability to innovate and remain competitive, European leaders have said. According to a leaked Sustainable Product Policy Initiative draft obtained by Sourcing Journal, there is no “comprehensive set of requirements” to ensure that all products placed on the EU market become increasingly sustainable. As a result, member states have had to adopt multiple approaches at the national level, resulting in “internal market fragmentation” and “insufficient and uneven” enforcement of rules, especially for companies operating across multiple borders. “The lack of sufficient and comprehensive internal market rules leaves room for initiatives developed by member states or by industries that impair the functioning of the internal market by giving rise to potential barriers, fragmentation and incoherent approaches,” the document said. “In addition, in the absence of a comprehensive set of requirements defining product’s environmental sustainability or ecodesign requirements, the same product considered sustainable in one member state might not qualify as sustainable in another member state.”
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There is an expectation that the measures will collectively “stop fast fashion” in its tracks, said Emily Macintosh, policy officer for textiles at the European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental citizens’ organizations across Europe, though that might be overselling them. What is important, however, is having a “political direction,” even if the execution might be “slightly less ambitious” than is being marketed. “The textiles sector remains very unregulated but the European Commission is ramping up efforts to regulate it,” she said. “This is the first sounding of the bell that gives us an idea of the direction of travel.” The leaked Sustainable Product Policy Initiative draft refers to digital product “passports,” a ban on destroying unsold or returned merchandise and “ecodesign” requirements to help stave off greenwashing, “premature obsolescence” and hazardous chemicals. It remains to be seen, however, if a final version or another measure, like the Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, will address additional issues that campaigners have clamored for, including microplastic pollution, extended producer responsibility, and, as Macintosh
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is hoping for, resource depletion through overproduction. “It’s important from our perspective at the EEB that the circular economy is not just about greening the current business model, which is a kind of a moving-the-deck-chairson-the-Titanic approach,” Macintosh said. “One of our main priorities is absolute resource-use reduction: recognizing that it’s not just about making the business model circular, it’s about making the circle smaller and reducing how much goes into the circle in the first place.” Baptiste Carriere-Pradal, chair of the Policy Hub, a think tank founded by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Global Fashion Agenda and the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry, said that the European Green Deal is one rare area where fashion brands and retailers are urging more ambition rather than less. “It’s clear that we want to have a holistic, adequate and homogeneous textile strategy,” he said. “[When] you have every country or sometimes even every region doing their own thing, this is a complete waste of time and resources.” Carriere-Pradal said that circularity is a headline priority for many apparel and footwear companies, yet the only way to increase textile-to-textile recycling is if there are better regulations in place to build up the necessary infrastructure. “They know that is necessary for the change,” he said. Another example is the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), an ecolabeling methodology that pre-dates the European Green Deal but is mentioned under the Sustainable Product Policy Initiative, the Substantiating Green Claims Initiative and others. The scheme seeks to replace the hundreds of different methodologies currently rating the environmental friendliness of materials and products, which can muddle consumer confidence. “We are keen to have one single method for one single market,” said Carriere-Pradal, who also serves as chair of the technical Secretariat of the PEF project. “Whenever you want to know the carbon impact of a T-shirt, you only need to use one method, no matter [which brand] it’s for. So that’s really the idea behind
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that’s why we were, as an industry in support of creating a common method validated by the Commission and developed under the oversight of the Commission.” Still, not everyone is in favor of the PEF as it stands. Make the Label Count, an initiative whose roster includes Australian Wool Innovation, the Campaign for Wool, Changing Markets Foundation, Cotton Australia, Fibershed, the International Sericultural Commission, the International Wool Textile Organisation and the Plastic Soup Foundation, claims that fossil-fuelbased synthetics such as polyester score as “greener” than their natural counterparts. The group would also like to see an expansion of the 16 impact categories to include factors such as microplastic shedding and durability. Until more information is revealed, there is some ambiguity about what form the PEF will take and whether it will be mandatory or not, said Phillipa Grogan, textiles sustainability consultant at Eco-Age, which helped create the Make the Label Count campaign. “What you can say for sure is that it’s a product claim. And basically, as things start to gain traction, we’ll get more certainty and a more solid foundation to form a critique and hopefully a roadmap to make it a bit more accurate,” she said. “The intention is great, [but] it’s really important to get this right, otherwise we’ll just end up derailing any sort of potential credibility of the whole system.” Another item Grogan would like to see in the PEF—and the European Green Deal’s textile initiatives in general—is more attention to the social aspect of fashion production. “It’s really hard to separate environmental sustainability from social sustainability because you can’t have one without the other—they’re symbiotic,” she said. “ The Ethical Trading Initiative, the Fair Wear Foundation, Fair Trade International and the Solidaridad Network took a similar stance in August when they published a position paper urging the EU to make its mandatory human rights and environmental due-diligence initiative “instrumental” to the Sustainable Textiles Strategy. “While we applaud the efforts for coherent policy-making for our industry, we would like
“[When] you have every country or sometimes even every region doing their own thing, this is a complete waste of time and resources.” —Baptiste Carriere-Pradal, Policy Hub
the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles to address potential negative impacts that new and/or circular business models may have on factory workers, producers and farmers,” they said. “The only way that the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles can support the transition to a fully sustainable supply chain is if human and labor rights are respected and decent work principles are applied throughout all levels of the supply chain.” Over in the United Kingdom, which split from the EU in 2020, momentum to “build back” a cleaner and fairer fashion industry is also experiencing fits and starts. An extended producer responsibility scheme, designed to “ramp up action on fast fashion and hold manufacturers accountable for textile waste” and due to take effect next year, has been postponed indefinitely, though it will still move ahead, according to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Part of a broader Environment Bill, which could also see the government set minimum standards for clothing on durability and recycled content, the scheme is meant to promote the reuse and recycling of textiles and reduce the environmental footprint of the sector. It builds upon the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s Textiles 2030 plan, a voluntary agreement that brings together signatories such as Asos, Boohoo, Marks & Spencer and Primark to collaborate on carbon, water and circular textile targets. “We are firmly committed to ending the ‘throwaway’ culture as we build back greener,” environment minister Rebecca Pow said last year. “Major retailers and fashion brands have made strides in reducing their environmental footprint but there is more we must do. That is why, through our world-leading Environment Bill
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and landmark reforms, we will take steps to tackle fast fashion by incentivizing recycling and encouraging innovation in new design.” Shady green claims are also coming under scrutiny in the United Kingdom. In January, its Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed that it’s reviewing the increasing number of assertions by brands that certain items of clothing are sustainable, better for the environment or made from recycled or organic materials. Infringing businesses, the competition watchdog said, will face “appropriate action” in accordance with consumer protection laws. “Our work so far indicates that there could be issues with greenwashing in the fashion sector and that’s why we’ve prioritized this area for further investigation,” Cecilia Parker Aranha, the CMA’s director of consumer protection, said at the time. “People are becoming increasingly aware of the negative impact that fashion can have on our planet. We know many shoppers are actively looking for brands which are doing good things for the environment, and we want to make sure the claims they see are stacking up. Businesses that can’t back up their claims risk action from the CMA and damage to their reputation in the long run.” Meanwhile, Scotland is mulling its own ban on the disposal of resalable goods. “It is absolutely senseless for perfectly good products to end up in landfill,” circular economy minister Lorna Slater told BBC News in March. “Rather than being wasted in landfill or incinerated, they should be reused or repurposed. “We are living in a climate emergency. When goods go to landfill without having even been used once, we don’t just waste the product, we also waste all the energy and raw materials that went into making it.”
Nike Makes Strides Toward 2025 Goals THOUGH AIDED BY PANDEMIC PRODUCTION SLOWDOWNS, THE FOOTWEAR GIANT SAW CONSIDERABLE REDUCTIONS IN SCOPE 1 AND SCOPE 2 EMISSIONS IN 2021. C H U C K D O B RO S I E L S K I
n the two decades since Nike released its first impact report, climate change has evolved from an abstract problem of the future to a tangible reality. Last month, as Nike leaders discussed the company’s progress on its 2025 “purpose commitments,” chief sustainability officer Noel Kinder called out the direct impact climate change is having on athletes specifically, from the 2020 Summer Olympics moving its marathon race more than 500 miles north of Tokyo to escape heat and humidity to forest fires in Oregon making the air in Nike’s hometown “almost unbreathable…for a couple of summers now.” “We care a lot about sport and so if climate change is impacting people’s ability to do sport, then we feel compelled to act,” Kinder said. “And I think for us, it starts with our own backyard. What do we own and operate? How can we influence that?” When Nike released its FY20 Impact Report last year, it described the document, then in its 11th edition, as “an inflection
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point.” On the one hand, it marked an end point for its 2020 targets, definitively judging whether the company achieved the goals it set in 2015. Of 19 quantitative targets, Nike met seven and claimed “substantial progress” on another six. But last year’s impact report also introduced a new slate of 2025 targets. Though Nike focused much more heavily on its workforce and communities, the 29-point framework still included nine quantitative sustainability goals. In March, when it offered an update on its progress, Nike said it was “on track” with the majority of its 29 targets “with plans in place to keep all targets on track in FY22,” the 12-month period ending May 31.
Carbon emissions are likely one of the most well-known and discussed metrics in sustainability, with halving emissions by 2030, reaching “net zero” by 2050 and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius often held up as the central goals.
In Nike’s case, it intends to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions—those from its direct operations and the indirect emissions from the energy it purchases—by 65 percent by 2030. By that same point, it hopes to reduce Scope 3 emissions—all the indirect emissions from Nike’s value chain accounted for 98.9 percent of its total emissions in FY21—by 30 percent. It hopes to reach net zero by 2050. According to the impact report it published in March, Nike significantly lowered its greenhouse gas emissions from owned or operated facilities in FY21. In one year, Scope 1 and 2 emissions dropped by more than 40 percent, from 207,813 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to 119,141 tCO2e. The progress brought the company more than halfway to its 2025 goal of a 70 percent absolute reduction. During that same period, Nike also dramatically increased its use of renewables, with 78 percent of the electricity at owned or operated facilities coming from renewable sources, up from 48 percent the year before and 14 percent in 2015. Renewable electricity drove the majority of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions reductions in fiscal 2021, Nike said. In particular, the report highlighted a virtual power purchase agreement in Spain that went live in September 2020 and now covers its entire owned or operated electricity footprint in Europe. It also continued to “explore and develop” solutions in other countries as well, including Australia, China, Japan, Mexico and Vietnam. At a distribution center in Mexico City, for example, a new rooftop solar array is estimated to produce 1,000 MWh annually, about 50 percent of that facility’s needs and more than 10 percent of Nike’s load in the country. The largest decrease in emissions came from retail, followed by offices—Nike recognized that Covid-related office closures contributed to reductions—and distribution centers. The vast majority of Nike’s impact, however, comes from Scope 3 emissions. According to the company’s calculations, its total impact surpassed 10.9 million tCO2e in FY21—10.8 million tCO2e of which fell under Scope 3. This does not include impact from the use of sold products—about 35 percent of the emissions across Nike’s value chain are emitted during the use phase, it believes—which the company
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put at 5.7 million tCO2e. This number assumes that apparel units and socks are washed 52 times in one year, Nike noted. For the purpose of its 2025 targets, Nike has set a goal of keeping greenhouse gas emissions from “key suppliers’” manufacturing and transportation operations, at or below 2020 levels despite continued business growth. Under a “business-as-usual scenario,” it believes emissions from manufacturing would increase by more than 30 percent. Nike defined “key suppliers” in its FY20 report as strategic footwear suppliers— approximately 95 percent of total footwear production—strategic apparel suppliers— approximately 60 percent of total apparel production—and strategic materials suppliers—approximately 80 percent of total footwear upper materials and apparel textiles production. In FY21, this category represented 26.5 percent of its total Scope 3 emissions. In FY20, a more typical year, it amounted to 31.5 percent of its total Scope 3 emissions. In FY21, Nike saw key suppliers’ emissions drop 22 percent from 3.6 million tCO2e to 2.8 million tCO2e. The company said this reduction was “largely due to Covid19-related factors,” including its lowest inbound air freight rate on record and a manufacturing slowdown. In its last fiscal year, emissions from footwear manufacturing and outbound transportation increased by 22,928 tCO2e and 20,035 tCO2e, respectively. The impact from apparel manufacturing, footwear textile dyeing and finishing and apparel textile dyeing and finishing decreased by 17,264 tCO2e, 14,250 tCO2e and 58,411 tCO2e, respectively.
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The largest change, however, came from inbound transportation. According to Nike, emissions from that category dropped 738,382 tCO2e, from 1 million tCO2e in FY20 to 275,199 tCO2e in FY21. It specifically called out the impact from dramatically reduced air freight usage. Initially, it said, the decision was made “to mitigate business uncertainty at the onset of the pandemic.” However, “due to the substantial positive impact” on inbound carbon emissions—it concluded air freight is around 42 times more carbon intensive than ocean freight—Nike said it is working to not return to pre-pandemic air freight usage. Nike noted that it continued to pilot alternative fuels—biofuels made from waste streams, specifically—for both ocean and air freight in FY21. These investments secured alternative fuels for about 4 percent of its total inbound volume, resulting in an emissions reduction of about 11,000 tCO2e, it said. The company’s final carbon-related goal focuses on emissions reduction from the use of “environmentally preferred materials” (EPM) Under the two-pronged target, Nike aims to reduce emissions by 500,000 tCO2e by using these preferred materials—recycled polyester, recycled rubber, lower-carbon leathers, organic cotton, recycled cotton and third party-certified cotton—for 50 percent of all key materials. By the end of FY21, it had reduced emissions by 123,367 tCO2e. The percentage of EPM, however, rose just one percentage point, from 31 percent to 32 percent. According to Nike, it is tracking ahead on its recycled polyester plan in both footwear and apparel, but behind on its footwear goals around both leather and rubber.
Though Nike’s vision is “zero waste, period,” its immediate 2025 goal is to reduce waste per unit by 10 percent across manufacturing, distribution, headquarters and packaging. In FY21 alone, it managed to lower this metric 4 percent from 290.3 grams per unit to 277.89 grams per unit. According to Nike’s calculations, manufacturing its products generates more than 120 million kilograms of waste per year. “A major driver of waste,” it said, is midsole and outsole defects. In FY21, the continued scaling of its “targeted phylon midsole defect tracking and reduction program” drove
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the decrease in Tier 1 footwear operational waste, it added. In FY21, 17 suppliers—together responsible for 80 percent of midsole waste, Nike said—finished implementing systems for capturing midsole defect data and increased their use of this data to identify and address root causes. This alone produced a 30 percent reduction in phylon midsole defect waste, preventing 2.4 million kilograms of waste and 9.4 million kilograms of associated carbon emissions. Building off this success, Nike is designing and piloting a system that will track defect data at individual factories. It plans to scale this system in FY22 and FY23. Nike has also set a target of diverting from landfills 100 percent of the waste in its extended supply chain by 2025. In FY21, it claimed, it diverted 97 percent of its waste from landfills and incineration, up from 96 percent in the prior year. Its “strategic partners” reportedly diverted 99.7 percent of waste from landfills As part of this goal, Nike is also working to recycle at least 80 percent of its supply chain waste back into Nike products and other goods. In FY21, it was at 69 percent, just above FY20’s 68 percent. The gap in waste diverted and waste recycled was “primarily” due to challenges related to recycling mixed materials, including synthetic leather, textile blends and laminated materials, and leather. All these materials were sent to energy recovery, “a process in which all or a part of solid waste is processed to use the heat content, or other forms of energy, of or from the material,” Nike noted. The company’s final 2025 waste target is to increase the amount of finished product waste that is refurbished, recycled or donated by 10 times The 2021 fiscal year was a “pivotal” one in its journey, Nike said, with North America publicly launching Nike Refurbished— its first owned external sales channel for refurbished product—after “multiple” years of research, incubation and piloting. By the end of FY21, it was live in 15 Nike United Stores, with “aggressive scale plans” scheduled for FY22. Nike’s website showed 30 participating locations in March. In June 2021, it launched a new takeback program, RAD (Recycle and Donation), at 22 stores across Europe, the Middle East
“Though Nike’s vision is “zero waste, period,” its immediate 2025 goal is to reduce waste per unit by 10 percent across manufacturing, distribution, headquarters and packaging.” — Nike Inc.
and Africa (EMEA). Described as a “proof of concept,” the initiative worked with recycling and donation vendors “to make the most of end-of-life waste.” In Greater China, it introduced its first Reuse-A-Shoe program on its digital platform and in 65 Nike store partner doors. The endeavor recycles old shoes and turns them into Nike Grind material.
WATER AND CHEMICALS
Nike set two goals around water usage last year: reducing freshwater usage in textile dyeing and finishing by 25 percent and restoring 13 billion liters of water in its extended cotton supply chain. In the first case, it is tracking slightly ahead, with freshwater usage down 6.7 percent to 79.1 liters per kilogram of textile. In the second, it is somewhat behind. By the end of FY21, it had restored 2.06 billion liters of water, about 16 percent of the way to its five-year, 13 billion-liter target. The vast majority of that progress came from a water restoration project in Australia. The initiative, it said, will allow for regeneration of the land “to a more natural state” and prevent commercial development in the future. The land use change, which affects 84,000 hectares, will result in improved water quality due to decreased sediment and nutrient “loading” and increased water quantity thanks to
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reduced runoff volumes and higher rates of absorption, Nike said. In India, Nike said the pandemic and “reprioritization of funds” forced it to cancel project plans. Ultimately, it recorded only 11.7 million liters of water restored, less than 1 percent of what it achieved in Australia. This setback has forced Nike to look for alternative options for project opportunities, it said. For its final target, Nike has set out to adopt clean chemistry alternatives for its 10 “priority” chemistries across its supply chain. Several of these chemistries are not currently covered by compliance obligations, it noted. “However, because of quickly changing regulatory landscapes and our commitment to sustainability, we’ve decided to identify and adopt cleaner chemistry alternatives to replace them, hopefully setting an example,” Nike said. The company offered bisphenols as example. Many regions have restricted bisphenol A, a chemical used in receipt paper, from use. Its replacement, however, is another bisphenol that isn’t regulated. Under its 2025 chemistry goal, Nike is looking to find a sustainable nonbisphenol alternative. Though it did not replace any of its 10 priority chemistries in FY21, Nike said its focus was more on creating multiyear plans. It expects to see “measurable progress” starting in FY22.
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Adidas Working With Suppliers in Sustainability Push THE GERMAN FOOTWEAR MAKER HAS A COMPREHENSIVE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM FOR ITS TIER 1 AND TIER 2 MANUFACTURING PARTNERS.
C H U C K D O B RO S I E L S K I
imilar to its activewear rival Nike, Adidas has set its sights on achieving climate neutrality by 2050. The German footwear giant knows suppliers will play “an integral part” in its climate protection efforts and that, without their cooperation, achieving climate neutrality will not be possible. To that end, it has enrolled “strategic” tier 1 and 2 suppliers in an environmental program where it provides them with “suitable training” to achieve their targets and improve their footprint. In 2021, it helped these partners develop decarbonization plans of their own, it said. Adidas also encouraged all suppliers to enroll in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Action Training, which it claims provides the “knowledge they need to effectively mitigate climate change and achieve climate neutrality.” These supplier relationships will be key for Adidas as it looks to reach its sustainability roadmap’s most significant targets—a 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per product by 2025 and a 30
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percent reduction in emissions across its entire value chain by 2030. Both targets use 2017 as their baseline. In the annual report it released in March, Adidas calculated the total impact of its full value chain—from raw materials production to end-of-life treatments—to be 6 million tCO2e. Of that, 49 percent, 2.9 million tCO2e, came from Tier 2 suppliers and 23 percent, 1.4 million tCO2e, was ascribed to Tier 4+. It attributed 10 percent and 9 percent of its total impact to Tier 1 and 3 suppliers, respectively. Inbound and outbound logistics were responsible for 5 percent of its emissions, while owned operations and end of life accounted for 2 percent each. Adidas has not publicly released its 2017 GHG emissions figures. “Results for 2021 clearly show that our estimated environmental impacts are distributed somewhat unequally across the value chain, with the most significant impacts generated in the supply chain (more than 90 percent), particularly raw materials production and processing,” Adidas wrote in its report. “Collaborating with our extended
supply chain partners to help them reduce their GHG emissions and continuing to seek more sustainable versions of the raw materials that we use for our products has thus become core to our program.”
Given Adidas’ ambitious growth plans—it is aiming to increase sales by an average of between 8 percent and 10 percent per year between 2021 and 2025—the 15 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per product target will not translate to a 15 percent reduction in absolute emissions. Rather, Adidas has set out to keep emissions flat compared to 2017 by 2025, despite its growth aspirations. To that end, it has set out to increase adoption of renewable energy at Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers. Since conducting feasibility studies with “positive results” in 2020, Adidas has encouraged suppliers in its environmental program to embrace rooftop solar panels. In 2021, this campaign increased the rooftop solar power in its supply chain to 93 MWp (megawatts-peak). The company has also contractually secured additional capacity with the aim of “achieving coverage
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of 50 percent of the total potential” this year, it said. At the same time, it is also identifying and strengthening additional potential with the goal of including more of its Tier 2 suppliers. Adidas’ work around renewables included more specific initiatives as well. It is attempting to eliminate the use of coal-fired boilers at all direct Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, for example, a move it said will result in a “proportionally high positive environmental impact.” From 2022 onward, it has committed to not installing any new coal-fired boilers, heaters and power generation. It is also supporting the phase-out of existing on-site coal-fired equipment at all direct Tier 1 and 2 suppliers by 2025, conducting feasibility studies, outlining alternatives, creating roadmaps and developing training. As for water, Adidas is aiming for a 40 percent intensity reduction at Tier 2 supplier facilities compared to 2017. This past year, it moved toward a supplier selfgovernance model where suppliers take “full responsibility” for their efforts, while Adidas still tracks performance. In 2021, Tier 2 suppliers achieved an 18 percent reduction, bringing the company almost halfway to
IN AN UPCYCLING PARTNERSHIP WITH OREGON’S THE RENEWAL WORKSHOP, ADIDAS AIMS TO REFRESH AND REPAIR USED AND UNSALABLE GOODS FROM ITS TERREX OUTDOOR COLLECTION.
its 2025 goal. Tier 1 suppliers, meanwhile, reduced water intensity 15 percent. Adidas is also working to bring 80 percent of its supplier facilities within the highest level of compliance (level 3) with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MSRL) for 80 percent of the chemicals used for production by 2025. To that end, this past year it helped suppliers report their chemical inventory and consumption on a monthly basis via a ZDHCapproved third-party platform. By the end of last year, 42 percent of supplier facilities were ZDHC MSRL level 3 compliant. Adidas’ final supply chain-related goal tackles pollution abatement, a subject it believes is “critically important for the textile industry.” Under its 2025 roadmap, it set out to have 80 percent of its suppliers with on-site effluents plants reach the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines’ “foundational” level. To facilitate this, it rolled out an “effluent treatment plant evaluation” that its suppliers can use to strengthen their wastewater discharge quality controls. Ultimately, Adidas said it saw a “significant improvement” last year with 87 percent reaching the ZDHC’s “foundational” level, putting it over its 2025 goal four years early. Moving forward, the company is working with ZDHC to integrate the assessment tool it developed into the organization’s industry platform.
Adidas’ sustainability strategy puts a major focus on materials as well. These efforts boil down to one central goal: using “environmentally preferred materials” “to a significant degree” in 90 percent of its goods. The exact extent to which an item must use these environmentally preferred materials varies. For apparel, they must make up at least 70 percent of the article’s weight. The bar is lower for accessories and gear, at least 50 percent, and footwear, at least 20 percent. By the end of 2022, Adidas intends for at least 70 percent of its articles to reach these standards. In Spring/Summer 2021, Adidas increased its percentage of “sustainable articles” by eight percentage points to 60.6 percent. During this time, it applied different metrics
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to determine sustainability. For apparel, the item had to be at least 25 percent recycled content or 50 percent sustainable cotton by weight, excluding trims. For footwear, at least 25 percent of the components used in the upper had to contain 50 percent of more recycled content, or at least 25 percent of the upper’s weight had to be made with sustainable materials. To help it achieve its 90 percent goal, Adidas is employing what it is described as a “three-loop strategy” that includes using recycled materials, making products to be remade and designing materials with natural and renewable materials. Polyester is the most common singleused material in Adidas’ products, it said. By 2024, it intends to replace virgin polyester with a recycled alternative “in all products where a solution exists.” In 2021, 91 percent of all polyester Adidas used was recycled, up from 71 percent a year earlier. One specific source of recycled polyester comes from Parley for the Oceans. In 2021, more than 17 million Adidas shoes were produced using the environmental organization’s Parley Ocean Plastic, up from more than 15 million a year earlier. Adidas is also working to scale up its circular initiatives. Two years after introducing the Futurecraft.Loop—its first “fully recyclable” running shoe—it finally gave the concept its first commercial launch with the Ultraboost “Made To Be Remade” (MTBR) in April 2021. Other MTBR launches last year included the Stan Smith MTBR, the Terrex Free Hiker MTBR and MTBR apparel products for Adidas Stella McCartney. More products will follow this year, it said. In October, Adidas partnered with the popular resale platform ThredUp to launch its Choose to Give Back program. The initiative allows U.S. consumers to send in products of any condition and from any brand and receive rewards points in return. The company intends to scale the program and roll it out to more markets. Though Adidas sourced 100 percent “more sustainable cotton” since the end of 2018, recent years have seen it invest in bio-based alternatives. Last year’s Stan Smith Mylo, for example, featured an upper
“Adidas is employing what it is described as a “three-loop strategy” that includes using recycled materials, making products to be remade and designing materials with natural and renewable materials.” — Adidas AG
material it developed in collaboration with Bolt Threads made from mycelium. Adidas is collaborating with other bio-material startups as well, including Infinited Fiber, Spinnova and Pond.
Adidas has established three 2025 targets for its own operations: achieving net neutrality, reducing water consumption by 15 percent compared to 2019 and diverting 95 percent of its waste. According to Adidas’ calculations, the company emitted 138,411 tCO2e in 2021. Over the course of the year, it implemented 13 decarbonization initiatives, including solar renewable energy projects, as well as energy efficiency projects at distribution centers. Last year, 100 percent of its electricity consumption in Europe and North America came from renewable energy sources, including from
certificates for renewable energy. Adidas has also been busy investing in water efficiency and wastewater projects, including the installation of more efficient sprinkler systems, water submeters and a wastewater segregation system at its Portland, Ore., headquarters. Though it managed to easily surpass its 2025 target—it achieved an accumulative water reduction of 34 percent versus 2019–it said it plans to continue investing in water-related projects. By the end of 2021, Adidas had generated 32,951 metric tons of waste for an accumulated diversion rate of 92 percent. The company noted that it has continued to face challenges around data collection given that most of its offices are located in shared buildings where it does not have direct control over waste management. In 2021, 74 percent of its own operations monitored and tracked waste.
TALE OF THE TAPE NIKE
SCOPE 1 IMPACT
SCOPE 2 IMPACT
SCOPE 3 IMPACT
10.8 million tCO2e
5.9 million tCO2e
TOTAL GHG IMPACT
10.9 million tCO2e
6.0 million tCO2e
- 70% reduction in owned and operated emissions - Transportation and key suppliers’ manufacturing flat against 2020
- Climate neutral across own operations - All emissions flat against 2017 - Reduce emissions by 15% per product
- Reduce Scope 1 & 2 emissions 65% - Reduce Scope 3 emissions 30%
- Reduce emissions across entire value chain 30%
June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021
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June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021
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Los Angeles Aims to Provide an Eco Template
FOLLOWING THE TENETS OF THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT, LOS ANGELES IS LOOKING TO TRANSITION TO 100 PERCENT RENEWABLE ENERGY BY 2045.
KAT E N I S H I M U RA
ome to particularly environmentally conscious constituents, California has long led the country when it comes to driving sustainable progress and innovation. Now, Los Angeles is looking to become America’s most ecologically advanced city with its own Green New Deal (GND). Launched in April 2019, the plan laid out ambitious targets for the sprawling SoCal municipality based on the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement. The GND seeks to drastically slash emissions that come from businesses, transportation, electricity and waste, with the goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. L.A. will also reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2025, reaching full carbon neutrality 20 years later. These goals will have manifold impacts on the county’s retailers, as well as its large network of garment manufacturers, denim and textile mills, dye houses and other fashion-related businesses. But the GND also offers the industry a roadmap to a sustainable future, and access to tools and resources that can help with goal-setting and execution, according to Lauren Faber O’Connor, chief sustainability officer for the City of Los Angeles.
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“We’ve really seen the interest from the private sector in terms of a desire to do right by the environment and their communities,” she added. “The textile industry has certainly made themselves known as wanting to get organized on sustainability and the circular economy.” According to Faber O’Connor, whose team authored the project, the onset of the Covid crisis shortly after the GND’s release may have slowed some of the sector’s progress, but the drive to deliver on environmental goals has not lessened. “I don’t think that people have relaxed their ambition,” she said. In the wake of the pandemic, “businesses have a lot to worry about and deal with,” she acknowledged. Those looking to take an impactful first step should engage with the L.A. Sanitation and Environment’s (LASAN) Green Business Program, which offers free environmental consulting to business headquarters and retail locations, she said. Once they meet standards established by the California Green Business Network, enterprises are granted certifications by the group, becoming part of a statewide collective. The program “connects [businesses] with partners in areas they might want to take action on together,” Faber O’Connor said, as
“The textile industry has certainly made themselves known as wanting to get organized on sustainability and the circular economy.” — Lauren Faber, City of Los Angeles
well as highlighting opportunities for different sectors to reduce waste. The certification also serves as an opportunity for companies to tout their environmental efforts. “We want to recognize these businesses, to help brand them as desirable choices” for consumers,” she added. When it comes to converting to renewable energy, L.A. businesses have likely already noted a significant transition, she said—and they won’t have to make further adjustments alone. During Mayor Eric Garcetti’s tenure, “we have more than doubled the amount of renewable energy on the grid,” Faber O’Connor said—and that energy is being used every time a constituent turns on a light. More than 43 percent of the city’s energy is generated by solar and wind projects in and outside of California, and more than 60 percent of that energy is carbon-free. “As we talk about electrifying our buildings and transportation, we should feel really good about the fact that that is going to yield immediate and constantly-improving greenhouse gas emissions and air quality benefits,” she added. In turn, businesses should be looking at transitioning away from fuel-powered equipment like gas furnaces to more energyefficient, electrified solutions—and there are programs to help. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, or LADWP, is the largest municipally owned utility in the country, offering “a host of rebate programs” for buildings of all kinds, as well as fee optimization for services like insulation and solar panel installation. L.A. is home to the largest feed-in tariff program in the country, wherein commercial businesses can opt to allow solar developers to install panels on their rooftops, “and LADWP will pay them premium for the delivery of solar power” to the city, Faber O’Connor added. Forever 21 was one of the first businesses to opt into the project when it launched in 2013. Perpetually in a state of drought, California businesses are also being called upon to optimize their water usage. “The state has recently declared that we are in a worse water situation than we thought,” she said. L.A. has responded by increasing water
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rebates for businesses looking to swap out inefficient appliances and fixtures, or install rooftop cooling towers. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), cooling towers account, on average, for 40 percent of a building’s water demand. The city provides assessments and programs to optimize the operations of existing towers to help further conserve water. The Mayor’s office suggests that L.A. businesses work with the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, as well as the U.S. Green Building Council of Los Angeles, as these groups can provide “hand-holding, technical assistance, education and a forum to work with peers.” Through their close alignment with the city’s objectives, these programs can “tailor very business-friendly approaches making decisions, and taking action” on both water and energy-saving goals. L.A.’s business community has demonstrated eagerness and aptitude when it comes to ushering in a new, sustainable era. “I think we find that many times it is less about reticence to do these things, and more about how we get the word out” about programs and services that can help, Faber O’Connor added. The need has never been greater. “The threat of climate change is only growing more and more stark and more alarming,” she said. “We have to act faster and bolder, and I think that’s strengthening everybody.”
MORE THAN 43 PERCENT OF LOS ANGELES’ ENERGY IS GENERATED BY SOLAR AND WIND PROJECTS IN AND OUTSIDE OF CALIFORNIA.
Sustainability Comes Full Circle
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Rothy’s Evolving Quest for Circularity THE FOOTWEAR MAKER CONTINUES TO FIND NEW WAYS TO RECYCLE OLD PRODUCT. KAT E N I S H I M U RA
nown for its recycled PET flats and sneakers crafted from ocean waste, Rothy’s has made sustainability a part of its ethos from Day One. But finding a new use for post-consumer plastic bottles isn’t the end game for the brand. Founded in 2012 on the premise of building a more sustainable supply chain for footwear production, the San Francisco Bay Area-based company has shifted its focus, in recent seasons, to developing the processes and infrastructure to become truly circular. The brand embarked on a mission to close the loop in early 2021, with sustainability head Saskia van Gendt telling Sourcing Journal of Rothy’s plans to pilot a footwear recycling program. One year later, the label has completed the research and development phase, recycling a total of 20,000 pairs of worn-in Rothy’s. “The goal of the pilot was really to figure out all the different partners and steps that we need to have a full-scale recycling program,” van Gendt said in March. “When shoes are worn out, we can actually recover materials and make them useful again.” The past 12 months of learning have represented a significant milestone for the brand, “laying the foundation” for its unique
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circular supply chain. “We’re prototyping what we’re calling twice-recycled thread,” van Gendt said, which is created by melting down the reclaimed shoes’ uppers and pelletizing the polymer. That content is subsequently extruded into new, workable yarns that can be machine knit, using the brand’s proprietary, waste-free process, into new footwear. “We’re looking to commercialize that product this year,” she added. The process continues to be an evolving one, and there are kinks to iron out in advance of the first twice-recycled footwear drops. “You’re taking a red shoe, a black shoe, a purple striped shoe, and recycling all of those colors of thread together,” van Gendt explained. When melted down into liquid polymer form, these yarns result in just one color: black. “It’s a limitation, but it’s also a gift, because we use a lot of black in our designs,” she added, “but we’re thinking about future product execution.” The brand’s product development specialists are also working to ensure the structural integrity of the twice-recycled yarns by experimenting with different PET blends. The content developed from the uppers of old shoes must be mixed with the brand’s standard recycled polymer to ensure
that yarn fibers are long enough, and durable enough, to withstand wear, tear and care without shedding microfibers. “We continue to look beyond just mechanical recycling for the threads, to things like chemical recycling, that can eliminate any dyes or contaminants in the recycling process,” van Gendt added. “We need to think about making sure that the shoes are still as durable and washable and aesthetically beautiful as all of our other products,” she added. “It is a core principle that we don’t want to be compromised at all.” Now, it aims to launch a consumer takeback effort that will give new life to old shoes and develop perks to push shoppers to participate. During the pilot last year, consumers were encouraged to drop off goods at one of Rothy’s stores, earning them a credit of $20 to be used toward a purchase the same day. “We’ve seen that customer incentives are a critical part of creating a new customer behavior,” van Gendt said. “It’s not something that customers are used to doing—returning old products to a brand.” Calling the effort a success, van Gendt said the brand received hundreds of pairs. But
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a full-scale collection program should be accessible to all customers regardless of proximity to retail, and the next step is finding a way to enable that. Moving forward, the brand’s sustainability team is ultimately hoping to create circular solutions for all of the shoes’ components— not just the polyester uppers. “Looking deeper into the shoe, we’re looking at making things like rubber and our TPU back into a material that we can use,” she added. Recycling and reusing thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, which makes up foam midsoles and outsoles, is likely the next objective for the brand. For now, Rothy’s is pioneering end-of-life solutions for TPU and rubber that include using it for insulation, playground flooring, and cushioning for other industrial use. In addition to working toward circularity, the brand is also endeavoring to cut carbon and waste from its existing supply chain. Rothy’s manufactures its shoes, bags and accessories at a brand-owned factory in Dongguan, China, and has completed the first phase of an initiative to bring renewable
ROTHY’S IS PROTOTYPING WHAT THEY ARE CALLING TWICE-RECYCLED THREAD.
energy to the facility through on-site solar panel installations. That effort could, potentially, be augmented by wind turbines, van Gendt said, moving the brand closer to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by next year. “We’re exploring all options for renewable energy,” she added, and in the meantime, existing output from the brand’s factory, stores and corporate office is offset by the purchase of renewable energy certificates. “We have a relatively compact supply chain in China,” van Gendt said, noting that most materials are sourced locally, from the recycled PET to the TPU used to make soles. With components available close to the point of production, Rothy’s has cut out some of the expense—and carbon output—associated with traditional footwear production, which often relies on a number of elements sourced from disparate markets. Like many other brands, Rothy’s saw shoppers’ appetites fluctuate throughout the pandemic and retail’s subsequent recovery. A strategy of producing in small batches in a near ondemand model “buffered us from a lot of the volatility in consumer demand,” she added. “We weren’t producing for entire seasons or carrying tons of inventory and liability.” The past year saw the brand take concrete steps to limiting waste across its China operations. Rothy’s factory is working toward LEED zero-waste certification and hopes to obtain it this year, van Gendt said. It is also working with LEED administering group Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) to obtain TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) certification, marking its effort to divert all solid waste—like scraps, packaging, and even food waste—from landfills or incineration, which releases CO2. According to van Gendt, the distinction is “a validation
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of what we’ve been trying to build with the manufacturing side of our business.” Rothy’s developed its proprietary knitting process with the goal of eliminating material waste; since each upper is knit to size, there are no cuttings or fabric scraps left over. TRUE, a relatively new certification launched in 2013, has given a number of REI distribution centers across the U.S. its seal of approval, along with one of Tesla’s factories in California. The group assesses the way that a facility manages materials holistically, rather than simply calculating its waste output, van Gendt said. “They look at how the procurement team is working with vendors, so there’s not waste coming in in terms of packaging,” she explained, noting that the group provided education and guidance for the factory workforce on how to process each material through an upcycling or recycling channel—and working to solidify partnerships with waste stream management groups when needed. Cutting out physical waste contributes to the factory’s efficiency, removing unnecessary steps in the production process that have to do with managing extraneous materials. These steps are integral to the company’s goal of achieving circular production and carbon neutrality, van Gendt said—a goal she believes is within reach. Meanwhile, Rothy’s is working to set science-based targets in line with the Paris climate agreement, which it will embark upon throughout the next three years. “We’re continuing to march towards our goals,” she added. “It’s really about how we’re taking waste out of every single step of the manufacturing and product development process—and parallel to that, how we decarbonize along the way.”
“We’ve seen that customer incentives are a critical part of creating a new customer behavior.” — Saskia van Gendt, Rothy’s
Turning textile waste into new ﬁbers is just the beginning. At The LYCRA Company, we are committed to helping reduce the textile & apparel industry’s impact on our planet. Our COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® EcoMade fibers, made from 100% textile waste, are a step in the right direction. But we cannot tackle this problem alone. If we can link our loop to others, then we can help start closing the circularity loop together.
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Reformation Looks to Galvanize Industry WHEN IT COMES TO SUSTAINABILITY, THE APPAREL MANUFACTURER PLAYS TO ITS STRENGTHS—AND THOSE OF ITS PEERS.
KAT E N I S H I M U RA
eformation’s apparel assortment embodies quintessential California cool. But a sophisticated and multidimensional sustainability strategy belies the brand’s breezy image. Founded in 2009, the label got its start building sundresses and rompers from deadstock fabrics, “reforming” these textiles into limited-edition product drops and generating a cult following in the process. Thirteen years later, the company is still committed to upcycling and recycling, as well as championing processes that it believes are capable of having industry-wide impact. The group is working toward a 2025 climate positive commitment, which entails removing more greenhouse gases than it produces while meeting carbon emission reduction targets across its operations. “The real way we’re going to get there is by maximizing recycled content and circularity initiatives, and doing a lot more fiber-tofiber innovation,” the company’s chief sustainability officer, Kathleen Talbot, told Sourcing Journal. “We have to start by actually making sure that our products stay in the fashion supply chain.”
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Brands across the board are taking disparate approaches to promoting a circular economy, and Reformation’s strategy is multipronged. The company this spring relaunched its RefRecycling program, a take-back initiative wherein shoppers earn purchasing credits by dropping off, or shipping back, used and unwanted Reformation clothing. Textile recycling facilitator SuperCircle manages the online interface for the program as well as the collection and sorting of items. The group then determines the best pathway for each garment, working with recycling bodies that convert waste into new fibers. Founded by the team that launched circular sneaker brand Thousand Fell, SuperCircle created a business-to-business solution for brands that want to engage in product recycling. Reformation hopes that it can become a standard-bearer for the program, prompting others to engage and contribute. “We’ve been talking about the unlock for the industry as it relates to some of the circularity initiatives,” Talbot said, “and one of the missing pieces has been managing the reverse logistics.”
Many of the take-back programs being championed by individual brands today “haven’t gone full-circle yet,” she added, explaining that they must collect a large volume of textiles or other materials before sending out that content for recycling—a process that can take years, even for a midsized enterprise. Textile recycling will become a viable industry-wide solution only when the sector agrees to cooperate in aggregating the vast tonnage of material needed to put the gears in motion, she said. No single brand is going to do this alone. “Our hope is that we’re piloting this to show what’s possible, so we can meet those minimums,” Talbot added. “We’re trying to bring this to scale, and do it a lot faster.” Thus far, the industry’s efforts to promote circularity have been mostly siloed, she said, but that could be on the verge of changing. “Collaboration is becoming the buzzword,” especially in the “pre-competitive” space that surrounds sourcing more responsibly and dealing with rampant textile waste. Forging partnerships with skilled industry partners in the circularity space has become a central tenet of Reformation’s sustainability strategy. Rather than reinvent the wheel when it comes to re-commerce, for example, the brand teamed with resale marketplace ThredUp in 2018 to create a channel for the brand’s pre-owned dresses, denim, crop tops and other slinky staples. Reformation shoppers can order garment bags and pre-paid shipping labels—known as Closet Clean-Out Kits—directly through the brand’s site, simplifying the process of sending used garments to ThredUp. Meanwhile, shoppers can find hundreds of Reformation items on sale through the platform. “The way we approached resale was, ‘We could do it ourselves, but why?’ That’s not what we do,” Talbot said. Reformation is a fashion brand with “incredible supply chain agility to make new stuff,” she said— not sell secondhand. So instead of building out its own channel, it has leveraged the strengths of an existing platform that has built a reputation with shoppers and created measurable impacts. “These solutions that are more plug and play are accessible and
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exciting for brands,” she said, “and they drive much broader engagement.” Internally, the brand is focused on how it can design for circularity before end-of-life solutions come into play. According to Talbot, that means not only crafting clothing with durability in mind, but evaluating the longterm viability of trends, designing for easier disassembly, and assessing the recyclability of certain fibers. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign project has served as a resource for Reformation as it continues to educate not only its design staff, but its merchandising and planning teams, about these criteria. Much of the industry’s infrastructure for fiber recycling is currently geared toward cotton and polymer-based synthetics, she explained. Reformation has historically used sustainable cellulosic fibers like viscose across its lines, but it’s backing away because of the dearth of options for tree-based textile recycling. “The technology to recycle those fabrics and deliver the same quality of fiber is still a challenge,” Talbot explained. “We’ve got to keep pushing for solutions across different fabrications, and across different materials,” she said, “but we also want to be really intentional about designing into circular fibers.” The company is also taking steps toward greater fiber transparency. Last spring, Reformation adopted FibreTrace, a technology that embeds scannable pigments directly into denim fabrics. Shoppers can track the lifecycle of a pair of jeans or a denim jacket through their smartphones, accessing information about each audit along its journey, from the cotton farm through finishing stages. “We’re now looking at how we can apply the FibreTrace technology to other fibers,” and even leather, she said. Traceability commitments have “become table stakes,” Talbot added. Geopolitical turbulence and supply chain troubles have rendered blockchain the hottest industry buzzword because the tool illuminates “the areas where you have the biggest risks as a brand.” Companies aren’t just interested in showing shoppers how their organic cotton denim jeans are made—they’re becoming increasingly concerned about monitoring their supply chains for abuses.
“Collaboration is becoming the buzzword.” — Kathleen Talbot, Reformation
CAN BRANDS GET ON THE SAME PAGE WITH CONSUMERS ON ESG? Despite the apparent conventional wisdom that brands have aligned their sustainability initiatives with consumer interests, both parties are not always in lockstep. One study from experience management provider First Insight illustrates that while 68 percent of consumers will pay more for sustainable products, 66 percent of retailers don’t believe these shoppers will make the effort. Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, shares where experience management fits in to help brands improve product decision making and eliminate this sustainability disconnect. Sourcing Journal: What role does First Insight play in the sustainability conversation in 2022? Greg Petro: ESG initiatives, particularly sustainability, are climbing up the priority list for almost every business. First Insight plays multiple roles in the sustainability conversation. Customers use our Next-Gen XM platform to make better business decisions about product selection and pricing, branding, assortments and buying that drive more sustainable operations and higher profitability. Also, we publish an ongoing series of consumer reports that provide insights into changing consumer attitudes and behaviors. Co-published with the Baker Retailing Center of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, our recent reports revealed that Gen Z is increasingly influencing older generations to make more sustainable purchase decisions and that retail executives are out of touch with what consumers really think and do when it comes to sustainability.
Our advice is consistent: Listen to the voice of your customer.” How has the current sustainability landscape shaped the priorities/goals you have for this year? G.P.: The current sustainability landscape needs to be viewed in the context of supply chain challenges and price inflation. Our recent survey of retail executives found that nearly all—98 percent—expect supply chain disruptions to continue at least through the end of 2022. Inflation in the U.S. hit a 40-year high in 2021, with more to come. It’s more important than ever for companies to make better business decisions, especially on pricing, by listening to the voice of their customers and using our data to better match supply and demand.
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Where do technologies like experience management and predictive analytics capabilities fit in toward building a more sustainable fashion ecosystem? G.P.: Hundreds of leading retailers and brands are using our platform to engage their customers directly and get actionable answers to critical questions, such as: Which of our target customer segments are concerned about sustainability? How do our customers define sustainability, and what elements—product, manufacturing processes, packaging— do they value? What is the best way to communicate the sustainable aspects of our product? How should we price the product? Testing new offerings early in the product creation process enables companies to cut underperforming products and focus development and inventory investment resources on the winning products. This is truly sustainability in action. Digital testing with 2D/3D CADs further reduces the environmental impact of physical samples. We have customers seeing a 70 percent reduction in sample production, costs and time. Getting the price right is a key factor in driving sell-through and keeping product from ending up in landfills, especially in these inflationary times, and retailers and brands should seek out solutions with a proven track record for pricing accuracy. What advice have you given apparel brands and retailers on merchandising decisions or resale/recommerce business models to help them improve their sustainability standing? G.P.: Our advice is consistent: listen to the voice of your customer. Use it as a competitive advantage. Brands are using our platform to get direct, actionable input from their existing and target customers about their preferences on recommerce and to predict outcomes from entering new categories. This enables them to minimize their environmental impact while making their business itself sustainable for the long haul.
“Using Xinjiang as an example,” Talbot said, referring to the rampant allegations of forced labor occurring in China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region, “getting traceability at the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels is becoming way more relevant to a brand.” Blockchain technologies are slated to become critical to the industry moving forward, evolving from a nice-to-have tool to a must-have insurance policy. “We’re doing all this work on environmental sustainability and social responsibility in our supply chains,” she said, “and we need to have the assurances that it is what we think it is.” Leveraging traceability technology in a consumer facing capacity will likely become a secondary priority, Talbot projected. “Candidly, I don’t know how many of them are scanning QR codes and following the provenance of their purchases,” she said. “But I do think that they have a level of trust in Reformation that drives some of the loyalty and comfort in buying from a brand that reflects their values.” Whether they’re scanning or not, labor practices and positive social impact are becoming just as important to shoppers as environmental stewardship, Talbot added. “We did our materiality assessment, which is a very jargon-y way to say we asked our customers, our suppliers and our team what issues ultimately mattered,” she explained. Ethical, social and governance (ESG) issues—especially worker rights and well-being—ranked highest with “every stakeholder group.” The pandemic and its knock on effects to the supply chain have also forced the brand to reexamine its sourcing strategy with an eye
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toward diversification, Talbot said, and that has resulted in some movement away from China. “If you have vulnerabilities and closures in one region, you need to have enough flexibility and resilience in other parts of the world to mitigate disruption and risk,” she added. Reformation has revised relationships with certain suppliers, concurrently growing its production capacity in the U.S. and Mexico to maintain 40 to 50 percent of its sourcing profile in the Americas, even as the company grows. The brand has owned and operated its own factory in Los Angeles since its inception, “but we’re really growing our finished goods assembly and suppliers” domestically, she said. Reformation continues to work with local dye houses and mills, which have grown with the brand, and it now aims to bring more finishing processes—like printing and dyeing for fabrics that are sourced from overseas— back to its home market. It has also begun to rely more heavily on its Mexican cut-andsew factory partners, helping Reformation move forward on its climate-positive roadmap. “Regionalizing and managing our transportation footprint has been a big focus behind that sourcing decision.” While the brand continues to grow and expand its operations globally, Talbot said she is buoyed by Reformation’s return to its roots. “If there’s a silver lining to some of the impacts of Covid, it has been people considering nearshoring and investing in more of that that infrastructure domestically,” she added. “That’s a development we’re all really excited about.”
REFORMATION IS WORKING TOWARD A 2025 CLIMATE POSITIVE COMMITMENT, WHICH ENTAILS REMOVING MORE GREENHOUSE GASES THAN IT PRODUCES.
HOW LYCRA BLENDS FIT, COMFORT & ECO-CONSCIOUSNESS The LYCRA Company is taking a holistic approach to sustainability with its three-pronged Planet Agenda plan covering corporate responsibility, manufacturing and product sustainability. As LYCRA’s sustainability director Jean Hegedus explained, this reflects a belief that “to have a healthy business, we must have a healthy planet.” Here, Hegedus shares how LYCRA is making its offerings more sustainable. Sourcing Journal: Over a decade ago, The LYCRA Company introduced COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® EcoMade fibers using 100 percent recycled PET bottles, and you’ve since expanded your recycled range to include polyester made of textile waste. What is the environmental impact of using recycled materials, and what’s next for these products? Jean Hegedus: A life cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted on the chip technology used in the textile waste process versus a chip made from virgin polyester. Assuming supply and demand are in line, the LCA showed that the chip made from textile waste generated 25 percent less carbon emissions and used about 10 percent less water than the virgin chip. The energy used is also 39 percent of that for the virgin chip. Today, textile waste technology is using pre-consumer waste—or cutting room scraps—as inputs. In the future, we want to take back garments from brands, retailers and other sources to use post-consumer waste, thus closing the loop. The technology exists to do this, but the infrastructure to collect, sort and secure a consistent and reliable supply of garments still needs further development. One way to tackle wastefulness in fashion is by extending product lifespans. How does LYCRA® fiber help garments stand the test of time? J.H.: Brands and retailers are increasingly focused on designing garments for longer wear life, and that starts with the selection of raw materials for the collection fabrics. The LYCRA Company offers a variety of products with enhanced durability including our LYCRA® XTRA LIFE® fiber, delivering long-lasting fit to swimsuits—up to 10 times longer than swimsuits made with unprotected elastane. Another new offering is LYCRA® DUAL COMFORT technology, which uses a special version of our LYCRA® T400® fiber to achieve natural aesthetics and lower impact through its combination of recycled and renewable content. This fiber takes on a permanent coil-like structure, so garments keep their shape, wash after wash and wear after wear.
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What are some less expected ways that The LYCRA Company is reducing its resource consumption? J.H.: We have started working with entrepreneurs to address some of these issues. For example, our Brazil team started working with The Fashion Hub, an organization that pairs entrepreneurs with larger companies to tackle problems in our industry. We are working with them on several different projects, from reducing waste and water usage at our plants to coming up with lower impact alternatives to hangtags. With this project, we’re collaborating with companies outside our typical network to find and implement new sustainable solutions to common problems.
Messaging to the consumer on sustainability has to be clear and simple, while still being relevant.” Consumers want sustainability, but they also want stretch. How are you helping brands communicate both the performance and eco difference of products made with LYCRA® fiber? J.H.: Definitely, it is not about giving up one feature for the other. We offer a variety of recycled fibers under our EcoMade umbrella, which help deliver reduced environmental impact, with the comfort, fit and performance benefits consumers desire. Messaging to the consumer on sustainability has to be clear and simple, while still being relevant. We talk about recycled content, because consumers understand the concept of recycling items in their daily lives. We combine that sustainability proposition with showcasing the performance features in our communication so consumers can have a complete picture of what the fiber delivers in their garments.
Everlane Builds on ‘Radical Transparency’ THE APPAREL MAKER HAS BEEN MEASURING ITS PROGRESS WITH THE GOAL OF BEING FULLY CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2050.
KAT E N I S H I M U RA
uilt on the premise of “radical transparency,” California apparel brand Everlane has undergone a significant evolution since it was founded in 2010. Ethical, sustainable fashion was once a niche market ripe for cornering, and the brand spurred an industry-wide conversation that has only grown louder over the course of the past decade. The San Francisco label helped usher in an era of direct-to-consumer startups aiming to cut out the middle man (the thirdparty retailer) in order to form a personal relationship with the end consumer. In the process, the brand sought to educate shoppers about the human and environmental cost of producing garments. “Everlane has really had a clear purpose from the very beginning,” director of sustainability Katina Boutis told Sourcing Journal. “It was first really built around pricing transparency, but always through this lens of building a responsible
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supply chain.” The brand began to add more consumer-facing insights to its marketing, lending visibility to where products are made and who makes them. “Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing this growing urgency around environmental impacts, global climate change and other natural resource constraints and depletion,” she added. In 2019, the company conducted a materiality assessment, measuring its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its product supply chain, along with its corporate and retail operations. Seeking to align itself with the Paris climate agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the brand sought the partnership of the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). “We began with measuring our footprint and really understanding where our impacts lie,” Boutis said, “and then we started looking for where we could make meaningful commitments to reductions of emissions.”
Following SBTi framework, Everlane developed forward-looking goals to be met by the deadline of 2030. The brand will cut per-product carbon emissions by 55 percent and to lower its Scope 1 emissions (generated by stores and its corporate headquarters) by 46 percent. And by 2050, Everlane seeks to become fully carbon neutral. “We now have three full years of emissions profiling that we’ve done, and that has helped inform our intended targets,” she added. Throughout this accounting, the brand confirmed that up to 99 percent of its GHG impact stems from Scope 3 emissions—“and of that, roughly 60 percent come from material choices,” Boutis said. “So that’s really where we’re focusing most heavily.” The manufacturing process is, for most consumer goods brands, the stage in which most environmental outputs are generated. These emissions are the most difficult to address, because operations are managed by thirdparty suppliers. Other Scope 3 emissions come from energy use, transportation and the build-out of new brick-and-mortar stores. “We’re talking to our supply chain about how they can reduce their impacts and commit to their own science-based targets,” Boutis said. These efforts are still in their nascent stages and will ultimately rely on “fortifying relationships,” she added, “in order to have the influence to encourage our manufacturers to lower their own footprints.” This piece of the puzzle is “substantially harder when you don’t have direct control,” she admitted. Boutis believes that working with other brands that use the same suppliers to solidify goals and incentivize sustainable advancement could help move the needle. As a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Everlane is “exploring how we can build these partnerships, and hopefully how we can even work together in the pre-competitive kind phase to provide encouragement and incentivization.” Everlane’s most ambitious advancements to date, however, have been in the realm of material innovation. Creating recycled versions of oft-used inputs has become a focus for the brand over the course of the past two years. “We can set targets for ourselves internally, and work with our designers and
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our product developers and our raw materials teams to design into and develop into lower impact materials from the start,” Boutis said. “And that’s actually where we’ve been able to see the most progress the most quickly.” In 2018, the brand made its “No New Plastic” commitment, in which it pledged to remove all virgin plastics or polymers from its products by 2021. Everlane has accomplished 90 percent of its goal, recycling 1 million pounds of nylon and 9 million plastic bottles, which replaced virgin polyester across its lines. The brand has also shipped out garments in 400,000 recycled poly-bags over the course of the past three years, completely negating the need for virgin plastic packaging. But slashing the last 10 percent has proven challenging. Components like buttons, zipper teeth, plastic trims, sneaker parts like toe lifts and heel counters, and some of the stretch fibers used in athletic apparel, are still tough to source, as materials manufacturers have not yet developed fully recycled versions of these inputs that can hold up to wear and tear. The brand’s primary button supplier is currently testing plastic formulas made from majority recycled content, and Everlane is working with a manufacturer on a new blend of recycled stretch fabric that’s blended with a portion of new material to promote durability. As it works out the kinks in its plastics strategy, Boutis said the company is broadening efforts to include recycled content across categories. “We’ve landed on a couple of areas that we’re focusing pretty intently on—and one of those is animal-derived fibers and materials,” she explained, pointing to cashmere, wool and leather as the brand’s current focus. Upstream in the supply chain, cultivating the animals shorn or skinned for these inputs has significant environmental impact, from GHG emissions in the form of methane to soil depletion. Everlane is now working with its suppliers to develop recycled versions, derived from products that are already in circulation. In November, the brand debuted its “ReLeather” footwear collection. The men’s and women’s sneakers are made with a blend of recycled polyester and post-industrial leather factory scraps, cutting out the carbon emissions and water waste that would have taken place during a typical tanning process.
“We began with measuring our footprint and really understanding where our impacts lie and then we started looking for where we could make meaningful commitments to reductions of emissions.” — Katina Boutis, Everlane
HOW PHYSICAL TRACEABILITY SUPPORTS SUPPLY CHAIN CLAIMS As fashion faces enhanced pressure to prove supply chain responsibility, paper trails aren’t sufficient. Applied DNA Sciences’ molecular based authentication solutions—including its track-and-trace CertainT platform—provide physical proof that materials are legitimate. Here, MeiLin Wan, vice president, textile sales at Applied DNA Sciences, shares how to meet growing disclosure demands. Sourcing Journal: Traceability has transitioned from an innovation deployed by eco pioneers to a widespread solution. How has Applied DNA seen the market attitude toward traceability evolve? MeiLin Wan: For many years it’s been about “checking the box,” with a focus on paper certifications as the primary mode for “perceived traceability.” However, paper certifications and audit trails may not fully capture supply chain complexities. This, combined with changes in global legislation related to greenwashing claims and forced labor concerns, have shifted the market attitude dramatically from amber to red alert. Making grandiose marketing claims only draws attention to your brand to have to prove those claims. It’s better to underpromise and deliver, than to overpromise.
It’s better to underpromise and deliver, than to overpromise.” Of the traceability solutions available, why is physical traceability specifically beneficial? M.W.: Physical traceability relates to the product’s authentication as it is produced. This means either tagging the product and verifying the product itself using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or isotope testing to come to a scientific conclusion that the product is what it says it is. Physical traceability can be helpful to confirm the paper trail is consistent with the testing results. It can complement RFID and blockchain platforms, especially if testing data can support information going into the blockchain, for example. The critical point is that there is no substitute for verifying the product as it is processed in production. Auditing samples that might be the “golden samples” one year after they are produced may not accurately reflect what is happening in the supply chain. What are the financial risks and rewards tied to traceability? M.W.: Many financial risks have been well documented
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related to product recalls. In addition, there are costs for remediation, supply chain disruption, and the list goes on. Public companies would need to disclose this to shareholders and the marketplace, which could decrease share price and shareholder value, leading to potential lost revenue and sales and decreased market share. There may also be fines or sanctions, or detentions on goods resulting in further civil or criminal penalties. All the money spent on marketing and PR would have to be directed to crisis management. The most challenging is the loss of consumer confidence and trust. The rewards of having sustainability with traceability address the core issue: Can you prove your claims? This has vast benefits once you know the supply chain as it directly impacts quality assurance, corporate social compliance, environmental compliance, legal liability and financial security—all of which build trust within the organization and external stakeholders. Applied DNA Sciences has two recent developments for cotton tracing: LinearDNA, which allows for genomic identification of fibers, and a partnership with Stratum Reservoir Isotech for stable isotope analysis. How do these expand on your existing cotton tracking offerings? M.W.: We believe PCR plus isotope analysis work synergistically together to more comprehensively address cotton supply chain complexities. Using both methodologies, we have shown that you can follow cotton from fiber to finished product in a known supply chain. This assures that the identity of the cotton is preserved from the source to the retail shelf and that the linkage from bale level to finished good is verified on the physical product itself.
“We’ve also done a lot of research and development to create a 100-percent recycled cashmere yarn,” Boutis said. The brand has been working behind the scenes with its suppliers to develop a formulation that “maintains its beautiful quality and longevity.” When post-consumer fabrics are recycled, the new fibers become shorter, which can lead to increased shedding as well as having an effect on durability. The company rolled out its ReCashmere capsule in 2019, developed with an Italian mill that blended recycled cashmere with stronger merino wool. Later this year, the brand plans to roll out the recycled cashmere program in a “much bigger, more meaningful way.” In April, Everlane plans to celebrate Earth Month with the introduction of its “LowWater Jean,” Boutis added, with the intention of tackling the shockingly high water footprint inherent to the production of denim staples. The brand has partnered with Tencel to develop the new styles using its Refibra technology, which involves the upcycling of cotton scraps from garment production. Rendered into a cotton pulp, this content is combined with Tencel’s lyocell wood pulp
and made into new, soft and durable fibers. A longtime parter of sustainable denim manufacturer Saitex, Everlane began producing at the company’s recently opened Los Angeles facility in 2021. The new styles will be cut, sewn and finished at the factory, which boasts a water-recycling system that reclaims 98 percent of water used to wash denim. The jeans will also achieve their indigo coloring with Bluesign-certified dyes. New product lines like this one wouldn’t be possible without the help of like-minded producers, Boutis said. “We’ve seen a lot of really encouraging work done by partners like Saitex that are really committed to setting their own goals and making their own reductions,” she added, noting that Everlane has strategically chosen such partners based on their “inherent interest in people and planet.” Throughout 2022, the brand aims to showcase more sustainably-made products and material innovations with the help of its supply chain. “We’re constantly pushing ourselves to figure out how we can minimize all of this natural resource consumption the external impacts on the environment,” Boutis said.
EVERLANE IS BROADENING EFFORTS TO INCLUDE RECYCLED CONTENT ACROSS CATEGORIES.
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HOW ORTHOLITE IS TACKLING FOOTWEAR’S ECO FOOTPRINT At insole manufacturer OrthoLite, sustainable innovation coincides with rather than compromises comfort and performance. The company works toward its vision of zero waste and a “more comfortable and sustainable future.” Here, Glenn Barrett, founder and CEO of OrthoLite, discusses OrthoLite’s commitment to sustainability and waste reduction and the launch of its sustainable midsole innovation: Cirql. Sourcing Journal: Since OrthoLite launched in 1997, how has the sustainability conversation in footwear evolved? Glenn Barrett: Delivering sustainable comfort solutions has been core to our DNA since day one. But a conversation around sustainability in footwear didn’t really exist by any broad measure 25 years ago. When OrthoLite introduced open-cell foam technologies to the footwear industry, we did so through a proprietary mixture of polyurethane foam and a variety of special additives. Part of our “secret sauce” has always been recycled rubber. Not only is this a great eco-story, but it also opened up the cell structures, providing added performance and breathability benefits. In the past decade or so, there’s been a groundswell effort to improve sustainability from brand and R&D leaders, to factories, manufacturers and beyond. Consumers are also increasingly driving demand for footwear to move in a more sustainable direction. We have the largest portfolio of eco solutions with over 350 formulations that effectively address our brand partners’ development and sustainability goals. Every OrthoLite insole has a range between 5 to 98 percent recycled rubber. What is the impact of this recycling effort, and what are some of your recent circular wins? G.B.: We started with recycled rubber from tires that would otherwise be burned or landfilled. Later, we transitioned to recycled outsole rubber regrind from footwear factories to help close the loop within our industry. OrthoLite insoles are used in over 500 million pairs of shoes every year. Including 5 percent recycled content prevents more than 300 metric tons of rubber waste from going to landfills annually. We have additional recycling and production efficiencies that save 200 tons of foam waste from landfills. Over the last year, we’ve dramatically expanded our range, including fully Recycled and the innovative Hybrid technology that reuses our post-production waste foam. Hybrid is extremely versatile and can be added to any of our formulations, from high rebound to slow recovery foams. We also recently
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introduced OrthoLite® HybridPlus-Bio™ and HybridPlusRecycled™ technologies, elevating the insoles’ total eco content to 57 and 50 percent, respectively.
Part of our ‘secret sauce’ has always been recycled rubber.” How can your recently launched plant-based Cirql midsole foam help tackle footwear’s plastic waste problem? G.B.: Footwear brands are all actively looking to move away from EVA plastics and other toxic materials used to make midsoles. Cirql is the world’s first EVA plastics-free, recyclable, biodegradable and industrially compostable midsole foam. The manufacturing process is zero waste and chemical-free, with no persistent microplastics, which is a gigantic leap forward in sustainability for footwear foam. Cirql is a genuine soil-to-soil solution, allowing midsoles to be recycled back into Cirql or industrially composted into nutrient-rich soil. OrthoLite uses castor oil to reduce the portion of fossil fuels in your bio-based formulations. Why did you choose this ingredient? G.B.: Almost a decade ago, we were the first to embark on delivering bio-based insoles to our brand partners. Our head chemist revolutionized open-cell insole foams by adding in bio oils from castor beans. Castor beans are harvested on typically unused, arid lands. Cultivation doesn’t compete with food crops and uses very little water, and it’s a fast-growing, renewable resource. We make all our formulations in-house utilizing proprietary technologies, which allows us to control the means of production, remain vertical and give our chemical team more flexibility to innovate. All formulations are confidential, proprietary and customized to meet our exact specifications and material standards. That’s what has made us market leaders over these last 25 years.
Columbia Sportswear Leans on Sustainable Heritage THE OREGON-BASED OUTERWEAR MAKER WANTS TO TURN YOUR SHIRT INTO DIRT.
D E B O RA H B E LG U M
hen Tim Boyle joined his family’s company 51 years ago, the idea of sustainability meant making enough money to keep Columbia Sportswear financially solvent. Decades later, the Oregon sportswear purveyor has a different sense of sustainability: making kinder and gentler products that pollute less and are better for the environment. To do that, the company, which started out as a hat maker and later morphed into a sportswear manufacturer, has a dedicated head of sustainability and files an annual corporate responsibility report to show improvements made to safeguard the environment. It is also deeply committed to reducing production waste, saving energy and recycling clothes, as well as using recycled materials in its products. “It has been a part of our business for as long as I can remember,” said Boyle, the president, chief executive and chairman of the label launched in 1938 by his grandparents in Portland, Ore., an epicenter of all things outdoorsy and ecological. “It is not a point of differentiation for us. It has always been what we work on.” Some 63 percent of styles sold under the Columbia Sportswear brand are now sustainable. From 2019 to 2020, the company said in a report that it reduced total emissions
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by 12 percent and increased its renewable energy use by 8 percent. But you can never stand still. For its latest project, Columbia Sportswear is introducing a product that is slightly out of the ordinary. It is called the Break it Down Tee, a compostable shirt you can wear and then bury in your backyard and see it eventually disappear. “It sounds like an interesting product that we are going to launch on Earth Day this year,” Boyle said. “It has passed a stringent test to be completely biodegradable and compostable.” The T-shirt, selling for $30 to $35, is made of 100 percent organic cotton as well as compostable threads and labels. Columbia Sportswear worked with papercut artist Nikki McClure in Olympia, Wash., to design images of crucial pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies for the women’s styles. “In men’s, we selected a tree to represent the compostable/circular story of the lifecycle of the shirt,” explained Dean Rurak, senior vice president, chief product officer. The shirt will be launched online on April 22 and be available at selected retailers. For spring 2023, it will be rolled out in more doors. For every T-shirt sold, $1 is donated to Conservation International, which works to protect land and water around the world. The shirt is manufactured in Dhar, India. The factory is part of an initiative Columbia Sportswear started in 2008 to improve the
“You think you are getting in there to save the world, but there are controls by others to measure it. We are seeing more interest from stakeholders across the board.” — Guru Larson, Columbia Sportswear
lives of the women working in many of their factories. The HERProject, done in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility, promotes gender equality and helps women to improve their financial well-being as well as health. But Boyle remembers four years ago when the company made a rain jacket he thought would be very popular. It had zero perfluorochemicals, zero dyes and had 100 percent recycled componentry. “Nobody bought it,” he said. It came in only one color: white. “Maybe if it had been in black it would have sold a few components,” he noted. Even with some missteps, Columbia Sportswear continues to aggressively explore sustainability in all shapes, sizes and forms. In 2001, the company set up its corporate responsibility department. Guru Larson, director of sustainability at Columbia since 2014, said one of the company’s first projects was to establish fair labor practices in its factories around the world. Then it branched out to energy management and then chemical management. “Over the course of years, it has expanded to all sorts of things,” Larson said. In 2014, the $2.9 billion firm rolled out its Rethreads program, which encourages shoppers to bring in their old clothes, no matter what the label, and place them in collection bins inside Columbia stores. The clothing is then turned over to I:Collect (I:CO), which upcycles, downcycles or resells the apparel. A small portion gets incinerated for energy. Two years later, Columbia launched two aggressive programs for sourcing its material. One is called Responsible Down, which tracks the source of all the down feathers used for jackets, vests and other down-feature items. The ducks and geese that produce the down must be treated humanely, kept in areas where they can roam and are not force fed. Also, no live-animal plucking may occur. “We have in place a traceability mechanism to track the down across the supply chain to make sure it is produced humanely,” Larson said. Now, 100 percent of Columbia’s down feathers are certified as responsible down. That same year the Responsible Down program was launched, Columbia initiated the Outdry Extreme Eco program, which was marketed more aggressively than other
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campaigns with the help of musical artist Macklemore, who is also an environmental activist from Seattle. The Outdry Extreme Eco jacket is a waterproof, breathable coat made without the use of perfluorinated compounds. Each jacket is made of 21 recycled plastic bottles and saves approximately 13 gallons of water if it is dye-free. “This is the first time we did messaging around an eco-specific product to the consumer to be able to tell a story,” Larson said. “That jacket was the building block for that collection.” In a different arena, it is working with Planet Water to install 25 water towers by the end of this year in towns and villages near its overseas factories. “We partner with our manufacturers to work on a joint project in a community close to the factory where the workers live,” Larson explained. “It is just a way to help improve living conditions and have a positive impact on these communities.” Getting these projects off the ground sometimes seems easier than having to quantify how these products help the environment. Investors in the publicly traded company want to be reassured that the company is impacting the environment the way they claim. REI has a 50-page questionnaire that manufacturers like Columbia Sportswear must fill out to see if their products meet all the requirements the eco-friendly outdoor retailer demands of its vendors. “Basically, stakeholders want to understand what you are doing,” Larson said. For some time now, the company has had a team that makes sure all Columbia Sportswear’s environmental reporting is accurate so that investment groups, individual stockholders and consumers are assured the company is a sustainable company. This may come in handy now that the Securities and Exchange Commission is proposing that companies reveal detailed information about greenhouse gases and emissions that come from other firms in their supply chain. “You think you are getting in there to save the world, but there are controls by others to measure it,” Larson said. “We are seeing more interest from stakeholders across the board.”
COLUMBIA’S WOMEN’S JOY PEAK MID -JACKET WITH OMNI-HEAT INFINITY GOLD LINING.
MAKING PERFORMANCE MATERIALS & MANUFACTURING MORE ECO-FRIENDLY Sustainability is here to stay, and textile sourcing firm Concept III has seen environmental concerns increasingly factor into clients’ fabric decisions. While shifting to lowerimpact options is an ongoing process, new innovations offer more alternatives to tackle issues like waste. Chris Parkes, managing partner at Concept III, spoke to Sourcing Journal about how sustainability plays into performance wear sourcing. Sourcing Journal: What are some of the most exciting sustainability developments you’ve witnessed in the outdoor and performance space this past year? Chris Parkes: We’re proud of our global partners and their ongoing commitment to sustainability. We’ve been ahead of the curve for years because we, along with our trusted mill partners, understand sustainability is more than a trend. We all know this is the right thing to do, and fortunately, there’s no sacrifice to quality or performance by also looking at preserving the planet’s well-being. We carefully choose who we work with based on their focus on building sustainable innovations for the outdoor and performance spaces. For instance, our partner Kingwhale is making a new variety of fabrics from excess garment waste. Together, we’re taking this waste, melting it down and turning it into chip that ultimately becomes highperformance fabric that’ll be available in retail this fall. As a bridge between brands and mills, how is Concept III working with both parties to reduce the environmental impact of performance textiles and apparel? C.P.: Concept III is working closely with mills throughout the world to advance new initiatives. As we collaborate with the mills, we’re making sure the factories are looking at alternative energy—including solar and wind power—to fuel the facilities. We’re also using the most innovative practices to minimize waste, ensure consistent quality and reduce defect numbers. Many people think sustainability is simply about saving resources, but it also comes down to a job well done. Producing fabric properly the first time around can also decrease any negative environmental impact. As a bridge, Concept III covers the entire spectrum of textiles, so the responsibility falls on our shoulders to do what’s right. That’s why we work closely with popular
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apparel manufacturers to establish best practices to reduce microfibers and overall textile waste in general.
Many people think sustainability is simply about saving resources, but it also comes down to a job well done.” How have your clients’ material choices evolved over the last five years? How much is eco-mindedness driving their fiber and input preferences? C.P.: Almost every discussion we have with customers on new product is around recycled or sustainable yarns. The challenge is older products that have been run for years. Those fabrics have been grandfathered in at a price point that works for all parties. The hard part for the brand is to increase the price by moving to a sustainable story. It is happening but not as quickly as new developments. We are starting to see older products being converted over, but it is taking more time. We as manufacturers are continuing to look for new ways of creating a sustainable story, whether it be the energy source, the dyestuffs, the yarns, etc. It’s happening but it’s a process. How can companies more confidently source chemically engineered solutions like waterproofing? C.P.: PFC-free C0 is a great start, but C0s can’t protect against oils. At least not yet—there’s a lot of work taking place to derive a solution. Right now, if you buy a $400-plus jacket with a C0 coating on it and you spill salad dressing on it, the stain will always be there. Once C0s can repel oil, that will be a game-changer for the industry.
ASKED & ANSWERED SJ SITS DOWN WITH LEADING EXECUTIVES TO DISCUSS WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT ISN’T ON THEIR SUSTAINABILITY JOURNEYS.
HOW HYOSUNG BUILDS ON THE PAST TO EVOLVE FOR THE FUTURE Operating in the textiles space carries a heavy burden given the high demand from brands and consumers alike for sustainable materials. But Hyosung has no plans of slowing down, aiming to deliver newer iterations of innovative fibers like its creora® spandex and Mipan® nylon. Mike Simko, global marketing director, textiles at Hyosung, shares how the company continues to expand its investments in sustainable production. Sourcing Journal: What role do you feel your company plays in the sustainability conversation in 2022? Mike Simko: As a textile solutions supplier, we enable mills, brands and retailers to better meet their customers’ and consumers’ requirements. And we have extended this into ways that improve the apparel they bring to market. Within our creora® spandex, Mipan® nylon and polyester yarn portfolios, some of the most sustainable and innovative fiber technologies at the moment, we provide textile solutions that use 100-percent recycled materials, bio-based materials, yarns that can save energy and water during fabric formation and ones that can help extend the life of a garment. How has the current sustainability landscape shaped the priorities/goals you have for this year? M.S.: For this year, we need to greatly expand our creora® regen spandex, so that our customers can have stretch garments made from completely sustainable materials. Equally important for nylon and polyester, we are offering recycled versions of our functional yarns, so now you can make sustainable fabrics that can cool, heat, wick and feel great Hyosung recently expanded its creora elastane plant in Brazil. How does this investment further improve the company’s production processes? M.S.: Since the beginning of 2021, we have expanded our production capacity in Brazil as well as Turkey, and we’ve built and started up our 10th creora® spandex plant in Ningxia, China. With our global creora® production footprint, we can invest near where the demand is, so we can save on transportation (and environmental impact) of both raw materials and our final products. How have the demands of apparel brands and retailers you’ve worked with evolved, particularly when it comes to the type of materials you develop?
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M.S.: The discussion we have with our brands and retailers has become more sophisticated over the past five years. It used to be—‘just give me something sustainable’—which typically meant either polyester or nylon made from recycled materials. Now they are eager to get creora® regen spandex so that they can offer products that are made completely from 100 percent recycled materials. Additionally, brands and retailers have different corporate sustainability objectives, so we can offer yarns that are made from bio-based materials, ones that biodegrade, save water and energy and consider garment end of life.
We should celebrate the successes that we have already achieved and use that to motivate us to press ahead.” How much progress would you say fashion has made in sustainability in recent years? Is there room for improvement? M.S.: I approach this topic as an optimist. We should celebrate the successes that we have already achieved and use that to motivate us to press ahead. A good example is by simply replacing virgin spandex with creora® regen we can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint by 67 percent. That is huge. Closed-loop fiber manufacturing has improved the environment by eliminating chemical discharges while also reducing costs. While there is much more the industry can improve upon, my interests are in collection and separation technologies for garments and fabrics that will allow us to greatly expand the amount of yarn we produce with recycled materials.
ASKED & ANSWERED
Inditex Moves Toward Circularity THE ZARA PARENT ADHERES TO STRICT GUIDELINES FROM RENEWABLE ENERGY TO EQUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE.
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ast-fashion isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of sustainability, particularly as the category is often known for throwaway items that last one or two seasons. Yet Inditex, the parent of Zara, is planning on proving that stereotype wrong. Thus far, the company is using 91 percent renewable energy in all its facilities from headquarters to logistics and stores, and it has removed the use of plastic bags for all of its brands. It has also rolled out a used clothing collection program and has set new targets for its environmental impact. Here, a closer look at some highlights from the company’s achievements and future plans on sustainability. The responses have not been attributed to any one person, as per Inditex’s policy on a focus on the team rather than showcasing any one individual. Sourcing Journal: Can you tell us about Inditex’s sustainability roadmap? Inditex: At Inditex, we believe that the future for our sector is a circular textile system, where products are made to last from safe, recycled and sustainably sourced materials that can recirculate multiple times. Inditex is a global company present in more than 200 markets, with a partner
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network of 1,800 suppliers and 8,500 factories. Additionally, more than 50 percent of our production is developed in close proximity to our global headquarters in A Coruña, Spain (most notably in Europe, Turkey and Morocco). This provides us a close working relationship with our partners and the flexibility to quickly adjust products and processes as needed. SJ: I understand that your fit-to-demand business model is key component to the company’s sustainability focus. Can you tell me more about this? Inditex: The Inditex business model is based on producing strictly in response to customer demand. This fit-to-demand model—which is rooted in sustainability— focuses on producing only what is required to meet customer demand. In addition to a business model firmly rooted in sustainability, at Inditex, we continue to increase the use of more sustainable materials and textile processes while trying to integrate the circular economy into all our operations. This is a never-ending process, and while we are continuously incorporating state-of-theart sustainability practices, we must always strive to do more.
“Inditex’s fit-todemand model— which is rooted in sustainability— focuses on producing only what is required to meet customer demand.”
Framed by that vision, we have been devising multiyear social and environmental plans since 2002, including actions and projects at every step of our production process—from design and sourcing, to manufacturing and quality control, to logistics and sales in stores and online. SJ: What is your Join Life label? Inditex: We created the Join Life label in 2015 to foster the use of more sustainable raw materials and prioritized more waterand energy-friendly processes. In 2021, 47 percent of all our garments qualified for the Join Life label. SJ: What are some of your environmental targets, and can you tell us more about how Inditex is helping to extend the textile life cycle? How has your recycling program resonated with customers? Inditex: Most recently, at Inditex’s 2021 Annual General Meeting, we unveiled ambitious environmental targets for the coming years and set our net-zero emissions target for 2040. Among those targets, it is worth highlighting our goal of having 100 percent of the cotton used in our garments be more sustainable by 2023, two years ahead of schedule, and more sustainable linen and polyester by 2025. We continue to work to extend the lifecycle of our products through our used garment collection program for the reuse and recycling of used garments through containers provided in all our stores worldwide, as well as at-home collection. The clothes collected in these containers are donated to nonprofit organizations, such as Cáritas, Oxfam or the Red Cross, among others, who then categorize them to reuse or recycle. More than 78,500 tons of garments have been collected since 2015. SJ: What has Inditex done to make its stores and facilities more energy efficient? Inditex: Eco-efficiency is prioritized in the design and management of all our stores and facilities with the aim of consuming less energy and water. To achieve this, we have an in-house developed, eco-efficient store manual that defines the standards of design, construction and management of every store to reduce
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their energy and water consumption. This is the starting point of each new Zara store project, which prioritizes the use of recycled and reused materials, with low energy consumption, and supplied locally. The Inergy corporate platform centrally monitors the efficient consumption of a store’s air conditioning and electricity installations, in order to optimize their management and define strategies to reduce energy demand. Alongside the above, all wood used in our stores, as well as paper products, such as bags and labels, have been granted PEFC or FSC seals, ensuring that the entire forest raw material management process is performed in a sustainable and controlled manner. In addition, our store teams are trained to make the most of the distinctive features of our eco-efficient stores, as well as other aspects of environmental sustainability. Moreover, we continuously upgrade all our logistics platforms with more efficient lighting sources and insulation materials. We are installing more advanced environmental management equipment and using bicycles and electric vehicles for internal transportation purposes. We have pledged that 100 percent of the energy used across our distribution centers, offices and stores worldwide will come from renewable sources by 2022. In 2021, we reached 91 percent of renewable energy in all our facilities. Also, our new logistics facilities are built and managed to the highest international standards of sustainability and boast the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED seal. SJ: What is Inditex doing in terms of its packaging materials and minimizing waste? Inditex: In terms of packaging management, we have our Green to Pack program to ensure we minimize packaging waste. We are also working hard to optimize truck loads to reduce the number of vehicles needed to distribute our merchandise (4,600 fewer in 2020). We remain committed to delivering our Zero Waste target in our manufacturing and logistics operations by 2023. In 2021, 92 percent of the waste generated at our distribution centers was reused or recycled.
ALLEVIATING APPAREL’S OVERPRODUCTION PROBLEM WITH CONSUMER DATA Despite all the goalsetting to curb emissions and reach sustainability targets, apparel brands won’t be able to follow through on these plans if the goods produced end up in landfills. According to Matt Field, co-founder and president of product decision platform MakerSights, reducing overproduction should be apparel brands’ chief priority. Field tells Sourcing Journal why curbing overproduction could have a greater impact on emissions than any other sustainability lever. Sourcing Journal: What role do you feel data-driven product decisions play in the sustainability conversation in 2022? Matt Field: The retail industry is one of the most wasteful on the planet. In fashion alone, it is estimated that 40 percent of products fail to sell each season and are either incinerated or sent to landfills. Another 30 percent only sell after they are marked down. This staggering overproduction volume is bad for the bottom line and the planet. Brands must flip the age-old script of creating supply and then hoping to match this inventory with a willing consumer 12 to 24 months later. Instead, they must start investing in creating products based on demand by collecting first-party consumer preference data and building assortments that definitively meet consumers’ tastes and needs. Reducing overproduction requires real-time and forward-looking consumer data—not just historical data—so critical assortment decisions can be made before money, time and carbon are committed to products that no one wants.
This false connection between volume and profit is the first barrier holding brands back.” How can understanding consumer sentiment help build a better sustainability strategy? M.F.: Brands must continuously engage with consumers across all available channels, collecting both quantitative and qualitative data to more thoroughly understand their customers. This data must then be shared across the entire organization so everyone, from product to merchandising to go-to-market, is working off of the same information and taking that data into consideration with each assortment decision. Consumer obsession is the shortest path to delivering products that people will love, buy and, most importantly, keep.
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How has the current sustainability landscape shaped the priorities/goals you have for this year? M.F.: Dan Leahy and I founded MakerSights because of our concern for the environment and climate change. We both love the retail industry but remain deeply concerned by the waste it generates. Not only do brands spend months and millions of dollars creating samples for products that never see the light of day, but their inability to accurately predict consumer preferences is hurting our planet and their bottom lines. We reimagined assortment management to support crossfunctional collaboration and enable product and merchant teams to easily gather consumer sentiment data on items they are considering for development. One of my priorities for 2022 is to help brands understand why they need to expand their definition of sustainability to include overproduction and how consumer obsession powers environmental and economic sustainability. What have been some of the biggest barriers to overcoming challenges like overproduction and carbon emissions? M.F.: For far too long, retail—fashion in particular—has mistakenly tied revenue growth to the volume of goods it produces. The number of garments produced has more than doubled in the last decade while the fashion market value has increased by less than 17 percent. This false connection between volume and profit is the first barrier holding brands back, especially since, by our estimates, brands will need to decrease overproduction by no less than 40 percent and increase SKU productivity by 3X if they want to meet the goals laid out in the New York Fashion Act by 2030. Other top-of-mind barriers are brands’ overreliance on gut instinct rather than data when making decisions about assortments, and the larger need for the retail industry to embrace new technologies.
SJ: Can you talk about the company’s thinking in terms of investment in R&D? What is the criteria and how does it determine what technologies to invest in? Inditex: We collaborate with prestigious institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to support the advancement of textile recycling processes and technologies in line with our circular economy strategic focus. Specifically, we have fulfilled our Global Fashion Agenda commitment for 2020 to fund textile recycling initiatives by investing $3.5 million to support research in this area. Inditex has also launched the Sustainability Innovation Hub, an open innovation platform which allows the group to foster the latest technological innovations related to new materials and fabrics. Through a collaborative approach, we are also driving the development of new technologies. In 2021, we collaborated with more than 145 startups and took part in more than 30 pilot tests to improve production processes, aspects of recyclability and recycling, traceability and new materials, among others. As an example, Zara launched in 2021, together with the startup LanzaTech, a collection of products made with a new CO2 capture technology that allows carbon dioxide emissions to be transformed into polyester yarn.
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SJ: Tell me about Inditex’s oversight of your suppliers, such as their commitment to health and wellness of their workers. How often does the company monitor operations to ensure that they are helping Inditex meet its sustainability goals? Inditex: At Inditex, we work with our suppliers to continuously improve working conditions. All the manufacturers and suppliers in our supply chain are subject to a strict code of conduct that establishes mandatory standards in terms of labor rights, product health and safety, and environmental aspects. We apply a zerotolerance policy to any type of exploitation, and manufacturers that do not comply with these rigorous standards cannot enter Inditex’s supply chain. In addition, all the suppliers in our supply chain undergo periodic social audits that Inditex’s local sustainability teams or specialized external auditors carry out at a manufacturer’s facility. Each year Inditex conducts around 12,000 audits of its suppliers around the world. Among the issues that are controlled through these audits are working days, health and safety conditions in the workplace, and wage levels (which are based on criteria set by the ILO (International Labour Organization). We also work closely with unions, and we are
ZARA HAS A USED GARMENT COLLECTION PROGRAM FOR THE REUSE AND RECYCLING OF GARMENTS THROUGH CONTAINERS PROVIDED IN ALL STORES.
proud of the fact we were the first company in the sector to share up-to-date details of our supply chain with IndustriALL and its Global Union affiliates to facilitate union access to all our suppliers. Inditex also goes beyond compliance through proactive measures to manage the supply chain and improve the lives of workers; key to this strategy is our Workers at the Centre program. This strategy works on the premise of understanding and meeting the needs of workers, their families and the communities where they live, for the purposes of promoting positive work and sustainable production environments. The strategy comprises seven Priority Impact Areas which were identified through our human rights due diligence process, conducted alongside Shift (a non-profit organization with expertise in Human Rights and chaired by John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights), and our sustainability teams across our manufacturing regions. These areas are Worker Participation, Living Wages, Gender, Diversity and Inclusion, Occupational Health and Safety, Protection of Migrants, Social Protection, and Protection of Labor Rights in the Production of Raw Materials. In 2021, nearly 1.4 million workers benefited from some of the activities and projects developed in the Priority Impact Areas, reaching 1,153 suppliers and manufacturers. SJ: Lastly, what is the company doing to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion of its workers? Inditex: Multiculturalism and diversity are a key part of our DNA. Our employees represent 177 nationalities, and a multitude of cultures and beliefs. Inditex advocates globally for a culture of inclusion, equality and respect. We are committed to creating fair working environments in an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance so everyone can achieve their goals and develop their talents. We also have a zero-tolerance approach to any kind of discrimination. One critical way we reinforce this culture of inclusion is through training and education on a variety of DEI perspectives.
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In addition to training activities, Inditex undertakes and participates in many other efforts to increase our company’s inclusiveness. For example, since June 2018, Inditex has supported the United Nations’ LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business to tackle discrimination against LGBTI people. We are also members of Open for Business, a coalition of global companies that promotes a positive business and economic case for LGBTI inclusion and equality of opportunity for everyone across the world. We also are proud of the fact that in 2021, 81 percent of the company’s management positions were filled by women (81 percent in 2020 and 79 percent in 2019). Moreover, our efforts to implement initiatives that foster gender equality on a global scale is evidenced by the fact that in January Inditex was included for the third consecutive year in Bloomberg’s Gender-Equality Index, which features the companies most committed to gender equality. The Financial Times also included Inditex among its Diversity Leaders, a report highlighting the progress made in achieving full inclusion in the workplace. Refinitiv has also selected the Group as among the main 100 leading companies in the promotion of diversity and inclusion. The pay gap shows wage parity between men and women in Inditex. In total salary terms, women are paid 0.3 percent more than men.
IN 2021, 47 PERCENT OF ALL INDITEX GARMENTS QUALIFIED FOR THE JOIN LIFE LABEL, FOSTERING THE USE OF MORE SUSTAINABLE RAW MATERIALS.
FUNCTION-ORIENTED DESIGN THAT STANDS THE TEST OF TIME CORDURA® brand’s stewardship priority can best be summed up in its belief that “Sustainability Begins With Products That Last™,” and the company actively discourages the throwaway mentality by prioritizing durability. With over two years in the making, the launch of CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66, urges the industry to “Expect More, Waste Less.” Here, Cindy McNaull, business development director at CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics, explains. Sourcing Journal: What have been your most recent developments to address sustainability? Cindy McNaull: Our new CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 is made from 100 percent pre-consumer fiber material that is GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified. One of our key milestones while developing this product innovation was to ensure that CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 provides the same brand promise of lasting durability that our CORDURA® fabric is known for. Currently available in 30 on-trend colors for Fall/Winter 2023, this new collection is “durable, responsible and innovated to last.” We’ve also been working with our mill partners on the integration of hemp blends into our knit and denim fabric technologies. Hemp offers the benefits of enhanced abrasion resistance, tensile and tear strength—three qualities which align to the long-lasting performance platform of the CORDURA® brand. In addition to our Sustainability Begins With Products That Last™ ethos, we are also focused on quantifiable benefits such as those found in our new CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 portfolio. The production of CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 creates 83 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, consumes 82 percent less energy and uses 57 percent less water versus Virgin Nylon 6,6.
fiber material. Assessing our new high-tenacity RN66 fabric collection performance versus equivalent INVISTA virgin nylon 6,6 as well as other in-kind competitive offerings was a key benchmark. All of the fabric technologies in our CORDURA® re/cor™ collection—RN66, RN6 and RPET—are GRS (Global Recycled Standard) certified.
Gen Z consumers are looking to develop a stronger trust in a brand’s supply chain.”
How have changing client demands impacted your products and operations? C.M.: Over the past year, we have recognized a growing demand for information, efficiency and transparency. Experimentation, agility and entrepreneurial thinking are core values of INVISTA and the CORDURA® brand, and we focus on developing futureproof transformative tools that enable digital transformation and global connectivity. One example is our CORDURA® Fabric Finder, a digital fabric library launched to increase visibility and accessibility and bring ESG innovations and durability to our customers’ desktops. At CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics, we recognize the power of collaboration to accomplish ESG goals and the next steps on our industry’s collective sustainability journey. The future of innovation is collaboration, and we focus on teaming up with innovative brands.
How do you provide trust, transparency and traceability? C.M.: Ingredient branded fibers such as CORDURA® can serve as anchor points that provide tried and proven performance. With 55 years of delivering durable, reliable and trusted solutions, we put our fabrics through rigorous laboratory testing and certification screenings. Our brand takes quality assessment to punishing extremes, with each CORDURA® fabric going through formal testing procedures that include aggressive abrasion. We’ve applied this same rigor to our new CORDURA® re/cor™ RN66 line, made from 100 percent pre-consumer
What roadblocks must apparel and fashion brands overcome to deliver on their sustainability initiatives? C.M.: According to The Robin Report’s “Gen Z Doesn’t Want Retailers’ Platitudes,” Gen Z consumers are looking to develop a stronger trust in a brand’s supply chain, and authenticity continues to become increasingly important. At CORDURA® Advanced Fabrics, we believe in a function-oriented design that will stand the test of time and last for more than a season. We provide solutions that are versatile and long-lasting in order to minimize waste and reduce water and energy consumption.
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ASKED & ANSWERED
Coach Takes Multipronged Approach to a Better Future AS PART OF ITS ACCELERATION PROGRAM, THE COMPANY PLACES DIRECT FOCUS ON PEOPLE, THE PLANET AND COMMUNITIES.
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nder the oversight of CEO Joanne C. Crevoiserat, Tapestry Inc., which holds Coach, Kate Spade New York and Stuart Weitzman under its corporate umbrella, is committed to operate as a purpose-led, people-centered business. As for corporate responsibility, the company reached a 21 percent renewable energy utilization rate across its operations in North America by the end of Fiscal Year 2021, ended July 3, 2021. Among other highlights, Tapestry’s global teams were nearly halfway to achieving the company goal of 100,000 volunteer service hours by 2025. As management continues with the execution of its Acceleration Program, Tapestry at the start of Fiscal Year 2022 also expanded its target 2025 goals as it looks to 2030 and beyond. One key member of Tapestry’s team is Logan Duran, senior director, ESG & sustainability. Here, he discusses the company’s achievements thus far in connection with Tapestry’s corporate responsibility strategy. Sourcing Journal: Tapestry Inc. has in place a corporate responsibility strategy called ‘Our Social Fabric.’ Can you discuss some of the areas that are included in this strategy? Logan Duran: Our corporate responsibility
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strategy, ‘Our Social Fabric,’ focuses on three core pillars—our people, our planet and our communities. Using our platform, we are able to leverage the collective strengths of our brands to engage our customers, empower our communities, and build a company that’s equitable, inclusive and diverse. Critical to this strategy is our effort to build a more sustainable fashion industry. Our efforts within each pillar include: Our People: Bolster Tapestry’s purpose and culture by embedding equity, inclusion and diversity throughout our organization, holding our leaders accountable for our equity, inclusion and diversity goals and attracting and retaining talent with a compelling and fulfilling employee experience. Our Planet: Sustain and restore our planet through continuous innovation in solutions that improve biodiversity and reduce our impact on climate change with a focus on renewable energy, increased use of environmentally preferred materials and production methods, and circular business models that design out waste and pollution, keep products in use, and restore natural systems. Our Communities: Support and empower the communities where our employees live and work, and provide the resources and investment needed to strengthen the regions
“Using our platform, we are able to leverage the collective strengths of our brands to engage our customers, empower our communities, and build a company that’s equitable, inclusive and diverse.” — Logan Duran, Tapestry Inc.
where we operate, through volunteer efforts, philanthropic initiatives, product donations, and social impact programming SJ: What were the key accomplishments in 2021? How did those achievements serve as a guide to the expansion of your 2025 goals? And what will be key as you think ahead about the Road to 2030? LD: Our Fiscal Year 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report showcased achievements against our 2025 goals including, but not limited to: Our People • Announced all U.S.-based hourly employees will earn a minimum hourly wage of $15 (began September 5, 2021) • Achieved a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign 2021 Corporate Equality Index (7th consecutive year) • Tied 10 percent of leadership’s annual incentive compensation to EI&D goals • Filled 80 percent of VP+ open positions with internal talent Our Planet • Developed a biodiversity strategy that aims to protect, restore and regenerate the natural resources • Committed to the Science Based Targets
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Initiative’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C • Procured 21 percent renewable energy across our own operations in North America and 9 percent across our global operations • Sourced greater than 60 percent of leather from gold and silver-rated Leather Working Group tanneries, the highest environmental standards in the industry • Launched Coach (Re)Loved circularity initiative • Continued engaging with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; gained insight into supply chain by reviewing verified supplier responses to the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) • Reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 6 percent and Scope 3 emissions from upstream freight shipping by 28 percent Our Communities • Completed more than 32,000 volunteer service hours (nearly halfway to goal of 100,000 service hours by 2025) • Launched the $50 million Tapestry Foundation to advance access and equity initiatives and combat climate change • Across our brands and Foundations, contributed $7.9 million in financial donations to nonprofits around the world
A WORKER AT A KATE SPADE NEW YORK PARTNER FACILITY IN RWANDA.
HOW LOCAL PRODUCTION EMPOWERS CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT As a third-generation business, technical textiles developer and distributor Cotswold Industries has a robust understanding of what it takes to produce high-quality fabrics. But more importantly, the vertically integrated manufacturer knows today’s consumer demands dictate that sustainability can’t be sacrificed for quality—both must coexist. Whether it is innovating via its pivot to PPE during the Covid-19 pandemic or the rollout of the RFID-blocking SilverGuard collection, or simply producing new versions of apparel staples for healthcare workers and military members, the manufacturer is keeping its eye on the environmental responsibility it carries. In an interview with Sourcing Journal, James McKinnon, CEO of Cotswold Industries, shares insights into the familyowned textile company’s localized designed and production capabilities, as well as its role in alliances like the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. Sourcing Journal: What role do you feel your company plays in the sustainability conversation in 2022? James McKinnon: Our primary role is continuous improvement in sustainable process and fiber integration into our supply chains. We locally produce in every free trade market and that allows for us to have direct carbon savings on transport while also contributing to the local economy. With more than 50 percent of Cotswold’s manufacturing taking place in the U.S., how does that improve the company’s ability to be sustainable, as well as that of its clients? J.M.: While our business is global, our U.S. footprints are where we drive sustainable innovation. From energy to fiber, we are in a continuous process of evaluation and improvement. This happens best close to home. And while Cotswold fosters innovation and collaboration in the workplace, it also promotes career and learning development, as well as recognition programs for their staff. Social responsibility transcends our manufacturing plants into the local and global communities by supporting nonproﬁt agencies and providing education opportunities and charitable donations. How has the current sustainability landscape shaped the priorities/goals you have for this year? J.M.: It’s a process. With Higg/SAC and others leading the compliance and execution charge, we follow along closely and adhere to all their primary recommendations.
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What are some of the latest sustainable fabric developments and applications from the Cotswold team? J.M.: Our MAX REPREVE line of 100-percent recycled polyester pocketing is gaining traction in several important markets. Our waterless finishing products are also beginning to take root. If every jean made each year in the world used REPREVE fiber for their pocketing alone, we could upcycle over 1 billion plastic bottles each year.
While our business is global, our U.S. footprints are where we drive sustainable innovation.” How do alliances like the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol help Cotswold stay on track in responsibly producing textiles? J.M.: Alliances like USCTP are critical to the industry and to our customers. Being able to calculate carbon savings and improvements over time is what drives the value of the Protocol. Over the past 35 years, through environmental stewardship efforts, U.S. cotton production has made dramatic improvements. Water waste decreased by 79 percent, and energy consumption dropped 54 percent, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions.
To expand on our original 2025 goals, Tapestry announced in early FY22 additional actions to drive our ESG strategy, including the formation of the Tapestry Foundation focused on equity and climate change, and committed to tying 10 percent of leadership’s annual incentive compensation to EI&D goals. On the Road to 2030, Tapestry also signed the Science Based Targets Initiative Business Ambition for 1.5⁰C, committing to setting interim science-based emissions reduction targets in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C and to reach net-zero global emissions by 2050 at the latest. SJ: What is Tapestry doing to promote sustainability in the environment, such as renewable energy, water use and stewardship, as well as chemicals use and management? L.D.: For renewable energy, Tapestry is committed to procuring 100 percent renewable electricity in our stores, offices and fulfillment centers by 2025. We work with a third-party energy procurement team to source renewable energy in our retail stores in deregulated electricity markets using green-certified renewable energy credits (RECs). In Fiscal Year 2021, our RECs covered 21 percent of our electricity consumption across our operations in North America, which is equivalent to 9 percent renewable electricity globally. For water, our goal is to reduce water usage by 10 percent across our supply chain and direct operations by 2025. In Fiscal Year 2021, we exceeded a 10 percent reduction at our owned North America operations, achieving a 15.2 percent reduction from our 2018 baseline. We are now working toward reducing water by 10 percent across our supply chain by 2025 from a 2020 baseline and we’ve begun working with our suppliers to help set water reduction targets. Annually, we use the WRI Aqueduct Tool to conduct a water risk assessment of our stores and direct operations within North America to determine if any are located within areas that may be considered “water stressed.” And in chemicals management, Tapestry’s internal Product Safety Compliance Manual is provided to all of our suppliers in which they’re required to understand, agree to, comply with, and declare that the raw materials, component parts, chemicals, and sundries used and supplied or otherwise delivered to Tapestry comply with the prohibitions,
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limitations and other provisions described in the manual. The Tapestry Product Safety Program works to confirm that all vendors who supply materials or finished goods to our company comply with regulatory local and international laws, as well as our Restricted Substances List (RSL). SJ: Let’s talk about sourcing and the supply chain. What are the key areas for Tapestry in connection with sustainable practices (transparency and traceability, supplier relationships, circular economy)? L.D.: To track, manage and reduce environmental impacts across our supply chain, we joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) in Fiscal Year 2020 and requested over 100 of our finished goods and raw material suppliers to complete the SAC’s Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM). Of the 90 suppliers that completed the Higg FEM, over 65 have had their responses verified by third-party agencies and more continue to complete verification. In our Fiscal Year 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report, we disclosed information regarding supplier ratings and the different topics of the FEM evaluation. In Fiscal Year 2019 Tapestry launched a commitment to achieve 95 percent traceability and mapping of our raw materials to ensure a transparent and responsible supply chain by 2025. Since then, we have engaged with a variety of NGOs and third-party solutions to map our suppliers’ core raw materials back to their origin. Working with the National Wildlife Federation, we focused on mapping materials of high risk of deforestation across our supply chain. We are also working with the LWG Traceability Working Group to support the development of a system to substantiate claims of deforestation-free leather supply chains. This work follows on our long-standing expectation and supplier requirement to not use leather sourced from deforested land. Finally, last year we launched our Coach (Re)Loved program focused on circular economy and to refurbish, repair and recycle otherwise non-saleable product—whether used/worn products our customers trade in as part of our new Coach (Re)Loved Exchange program as well as damaged products otherwise returned to us in stores—and give it a second life. For example, Coach (Re)Loved Remade disassembles non-repairable product
BUILDING SUSTAINABILITY INTO THE BUSINESS MODEL “There’s a new generation of consumers that’s quickly asserting their economic and civic power, and they are demanding that industry and government present more meaningful solutions. Brands that hedge on this are in danger of being painted as part of the problem,” notes Steve Layton, president of Polartec, who adds that those companies who still see sustainability as an expense rather than an investment do so at their own peril. Polartec was an early adopter in sustainability, turning recycled bottles into garments more than 30 years ago. Here, Layton discusses sustainability in the industry from its legacy vantage point. Sourcing Journal: Polartec was a leader in apparel made from recycled PET, but now the space is so competitive. How does Polartec stand apart? Steve Layton: It’s actually great to see others making the switch to recycled inputs. In terms of standing apart, our fabric speaks for itself. How it performs, how it feels, how it wears. I believe there’s still no finer performance fabric made with recycled PET than Polartec. That said, consumers have also come to associate the Polartec brand with the premium performance that suitability implies. Some unethical companies have been known to produce plastic bottles just to recycle them, thus claiming “sustainability.” How does this affect companies that are truly doing the right thing? S.L.: All greenwashing activities impact those trying to do the right thing. False claims not based on science diminish trust within the marketplace and increase consumer reluctance. Outright fraud has a direct economic impact on competition. Unfortunately, this isn’t unique to sustainability. Polartec recently switched from metal-based odor-fighting agents to peppermint oil. Why? S.L.: Why not? We were able to develop an anti-odor treatment without metal and distilled from a renewable source. And we were able to achieve this with comparable performance, durability characteristics and cost considerations as current solutions. This was an easy decision.
We can’t ‘recycled bottle’ our way out of this. That is both the challenge and the opportunity.”
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Polartec converts entire range to non-PFAS treatments.
While sustainability has caught on with more consumers, what are the biggest challenges that remain? S.L.: It’s no surprise that supply chain is the biggest challenge— pricing, access to raw materials, etc. Consumer adoption only exacerbates this. However, the industry is still playing around the edges when it comes to investing in meaningful technological breakthroughs that solve meaningful issues. Both brands and suppliers are going to have to rethink their commitments in this area. We can’t “recycled bottle” our way out of this. This is both the challenge and opportunity. That’s why our EcoEngineering efforts are aimed at a full array of solutions that go far beyond recycled inputs, from non-PFAS, bio-based or more inventive constructions—solutions that move the conversation of what’s possible beyond where we are today. I’m excited to say these should be seeing their way into the market very soon. What will sustainability look like in the years ahead? How has the conversation evolved, if at all? S.L.: The conversations have definitely evolved. Topics like circularity, repurposing and transparency are starting to move into more mainstream forums. However, I honestly believe in the years ahead we won’t be having this same conversation. Sustainability will be built directly into the model. It will be the outliers—if any—who don’t comply with the expectation of textiles produced with a lighter footprint. Regardless how long this takes to occur, this is where Polartec is moving as fast as we can.
and crafts it into new product. However, our ability to scale this program to repurpose or recycle all damaged product is limited by our ability to find and train craftsperson talent. To this front, we launched a craftsperson apprenticeship program to help rebuild this dying trade in North America—and enable us to truly scale circular products. Finally, we partnered with graduate students as part of a course at Columbia University to complete a life cycle assessment of the Coach Swinger Bag. It was found that reimaging the Coach Swinger bag under Coach (Re)Loved can reduce annualized emissions by 76 percent compared to a typical Coach bag life cycle. SJ: How often do you run supplier summits and what does the company do to ensure compliance with Tapestry’s Supplier Code of Conduct? What about training on anticorruption and business ethics? L.D.: When onboarding the direct suppliers that we contract to make our branded products, we request a credible social compliance audit report that was conducted within six months of the date of submission. Suppliers that fail to meet our standards are not approved until an acceptable audit report is provided. Tier 1 finished goods suppliers and a portion of our Tier 2 raw material suppliers undergo semi-announced, annual audits by independent third-party audit firms. When a factory is found in violation, we work with them to support remediation and develop a corrective action plan based on the audit findings and reserve the right to develop exit plans or terminate our relationship with suppliers based on compliance issues. We also provide our suppliers with onboarding and biennial topic-specific training. In Fiscal Year 2022 we also began hosting trainings for our suppliers on environmental topics including GHG emissions, water, waste and energy. SJ: Can you provide some details about your Packaging Task Force? When was that formed and what are its goals? L.D.: In Fiscal Year 2021, we formed a Packaging Task Force which includes cross-functional business leaders from our procurement teams. The Task Force is focused on innovating our packaging through sustainable design. Our brands are working toward improving the environmental criteria of their packaging through the following examples:
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• Coach: Reducing paper use by transitioning multiple-page, product care booklets to a QR code; Moving toward at least 75 percent recycled content in all customer-facing and in-store collateral • Kate Spade New York: Launching 100 percent recycled content dust bags made from recycled plastic bottles • Stuart Weitzman: In the U.S. and EU, exhausting existing packaging inventories before fully transitioning to packaging made up of at least 75 percent recycled content SJ: Under the U.N.’s sustainability goals, there’s also an emphasis on social policy and human rights. Tell me about your policy and factory oversight on occupational health and safety, employee wellbeing and supply chain living wages. And what does Tapestry do to make sure outside contractors do not partake in forced labor? L.D.: Tapestry is a member of the UN Global Compact and aligns our annual Corporate Responsibility report with the Ten Principles of the UNGC to uphold human and labor rights, safeguard the environment, and work against all forms of corruption. We recognize our responsibility to respect and uphold human rights throughout our entire value chain. This includes the rights of Tapestry’s own employees as well as those of the workers who make our products. We hold our suppliers to our own high standards and require them to sign and comply with our Supplier Code of Conduct (SCOC). Our SCOC prohibits the use of child or forced labor, and we maintain policies on slavery and human trafficking in compliance with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657) and the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015. Tapestry’s Social Compliance Program implements the requirements for health and safety, labor, and environmental practices in our contracted global supply chain factories. This program maintains its effectiveness through regular program review. Tier 1 finished goods suppliers and a portion of our Tier 2 raw material suppliers undergo semiannounced, annual audits by independent third-party audit firms. More information on the number of audits conducted and worker empowerment in our supply chain can be found in our Fiscal Year 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report.
HOW SUSTAINABILITY IS DRIVING PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & BUYING DECISIONS
Informa Markets Fashion, the U.S.-based fashion wholesale connector and host to trade events such as MAGIC, COTERIE, PROJECT and SOURCING at MAGIC, has the inside scoop on the latest trends, and one of the forces currently driving business forward is sustainable action. To see what’s on Informa’s radar, Sourcing Journal chatted with SOURCING at MAGIC vice president Andreu David; COTERIE and PROJECT women’s vice president Courtney Bradarich; and Informa Markets Fashion president Kelly Helfman. Sourcing Journal: What are the most exciting sustainable innovations you’ve observed in the last year? Andreu David: Brands are starting to think about circularity. Some aren’t using virgin materials to create new products, which is one way to not create extra waste. In terms of how product is being made—whether it’s from plastic bottles, fishing nets and beyond—creating a product that still has a comparable and quality hand feel of denim, cotton and other familiar blends and fabrications is very important. Brands are also developing strategies to incorporate on-demand manufacturing to minimize production and help control inventory, thus reducing waste. In what ways are environmental concerns shaping brands’ sourcing practices and wholesale buying decisions? A.D.: Many more brands are upcycling fabrics from seasons past or looking into recycled goods when sourcing materials. With the ever-changing landscape of design and the technological advancements that are being made, sustainable practices are becoming easier for brands to tap into, both small- and large-scale. Courtney Bradarich: Sustainability is playing a larger role than ever for buyers, as consumers’ expectations around sustainability—and transparency into these factors—is evolving. Buyers are no longer just looking for brands with sustainable practices as a supportive quality, but are instead actively seeking out brands that are sustainable. Retailers and brands are pledging to work with a certain level of sustainable brands as well as adopting sustainable practices within their own businesses. We launched the Mock Shoppe at Coterie—a sustainability-centered activation and installation—to provide retailers with an edit of not only the truly sustainable brands they could shop on our show floor, but the practices they could adopt and apply on a day-to-day basis.
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WGSN’s trend report for SOURCING at MAGIC showed consumer demand for frugality and sustainability, leading them to seek out transseasonal pieces with longevity. How can brands best incorporate this concept into collections? C.B.: While consumer sustainability demands are increasing, value is still critical to their purchasing decisions. A consumer may be willing to pay more for a sustainably produced item from a transparent company, but the inherent expectation is it will offer them value beyond that attribute; this is where the idea of longevity is vital. With that said, brands are adopting strategies that include core programming. While they still come to market with trend-driven seasonal collections, they either anchor these collections with evergreen styles or show an entire core collection alongside seasonal ranges.
While consumer sustainability demands are increasing, value is still critical to their purchasing decisions.” Informa signed the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative, which set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. How is Informa Markets Fashion acting on this pledge via your live events? Kelly Helfman: We are focused on reducing waste, controlling energy use, reviewing circular practices, and providing education on social good to our audience. Thus, we inaugurated a program one year ago with SOURCING at MAGIC to verify and highlight our sustainable exhibitors. We rolled out the program to COTERIE in Fall 2021, and plan to include PROJECT in the near future. This has caused brands, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers to inquire about how they can be part of the program and become sustainable. Because our events cover the entire fashion supply chain, we have an opportunity to make a great impact, from fiber all the way through to the consumer. In addition, with buyers coming to see hundreds to thousands of brands in one trip, this helps to reduce the amount of individual buying trips if they were not to come to a show like ours.
SJ: Tell me about Tapestry’s corporate office policy. What is the company doing to ensure women’s empowerment, gender equality and pay parity? L.D.: In 2021, 79 percent of Tapestry’s global workforce was made up by women. Tapestry was named to Forbes’ “Best Employers for Women” 2021 list and we are also a member of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles. As part of our 2025 goals, we have a target to reduce differences in our Employee Inclusion Index scores based on gender and ethnicity. Additionally in Fiscal Year 2021 Kate Spade New York contributed $1.8 million to women’s empowerment and mental health programs and Stuart Weitzman contributed $200,000 to Vital Voices to support women leaders. Within our supply chain, we partnered with BSR’s HERProject, a collaborative initiative that looks to empower low-income women in global supply chains through workplace-based programs. HERProject brings together global brands, factories and local NGOs to support programs on health, financial inclusion and gender equality. The initiative uses a data-driven approach to help understand and analyze the impact of its programs, including through baseline and end-line assessment surveys. Its forward-looking model uses a “peer-topeer methodology” and by doing so, creates a platform for longevity. We initially launched this partnership in May 2021 at two of our supplier facilities in Vietnam, reaching 12,500 workers. COVID-19 caused unexpected delays in rolling out in-person activities at more facilities, but we are on target to reach a total of 30,000 workers during Fiscal Year 2022.
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CLOSING THE LOOP WITH TEXTILE-TO-TEXTILE RECYCLING A leader in circularity, Recover™ is working on several projects and collaborations with brand partners to scale the recycling of post-consumer textiles. To expand its global presence and capacity, the company added new facilities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, both operating under the highest environmental and social standards to deliver the highest-quality recycled fibers to the market. Here, Hélène Smits, chief sustainability officer of Recover™, discusses initiatives and achievements. Sourcing Journal: How can companies such as yours help bridge the knowledge gap between what consumers think happens to garment waste and what really happens? Hélène Smits: Most consumers have no idea about the huge amount of textile waste that is generated and what happens to it. Some European countries are doing very well, collecting 30 to 50 percent of all discarded textiles separately. The world average, however, is only estimated at 15 to 20 percent, which means up to 85 percent of all discarded textiles still go straight to landfill and incineration. We push to raise awareness with consumers about the value of textiles materials and how we at Recover™ transform textile waste into recycled fibers to make new clothes (i.e., “Put used clothes in a recycling bin; it’s not trash but a valuable material!”) We believe that telling this story and providing inspiring and tangible examples will help consumers to change their habits. The Recover™ process falls under mechanical recycling, while other methods utilize chemical. How can the two work together? H.S.: There is strong synergy between the two technologies. Mechanical recycling can keep cotton in the system longer, and these cotton fibers can be regenerated through chemical recycling into MMCFs [manmade cellulosic fibers]. I see a lot of opportunity in hybrid products made from a mix of mechanically and chemically recycled fibers. Finally, recycling post-consumer textiles via mechanical or chemical technology relies on the same supply infrastructure, so we need to collaborate as an industry to establish circular supply chains to scale both. Most of our business is based on recycling post-industrial waste, however, our main focus for innovation moving forward is scaling the recycling of garments, pre- and post-consumer. This comes with challenges—quality control and chemical management, to name a few. The post-consumer materials are very heterogeneous, and the technologies required to properly
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sort and pre-process these materials for high-value recycling are still in development. The transformation to circular supply chains seems to be accelerating, and while we are determined, we still have a long way to go. What can the industry do for better transparency and traceability? H.S.: More and more brands and retailers are going beyond their tier 1 suppliers, which is great because many environmental problems actually occur upstream. Having traceability and visibility however is crucial as it allows us to identify issues and to implement required improvements or new innovations. Such changes do not happen overnight and require perseverance, collaboration and capital. Big brands and retailers can especially take a leadership role here as they have a lot of sway in the supply chain.
Most consumers have no idea about the huge amount of textile waste that is generated and what happens to it.” What will sustainability look like in 2022? How has the conversation evolved, if at all? H.S.: Climate action will remain a huge topic and the fashion industry will have continued focus on curbing emissions and delivering ‘climate neutral’ products to the market. Traceability, transparency and communication will also remain a major theme as brands will need to work hard to keep the trust of consumers as they become more and more aware of greenwashing. I hope that as an industry we can also look beyond carbon at how we are affecting our ecosystems, addressing topics like biodiversity loss, microplastics pollution and soil health.
ASKED & ANSWERED
Ralph Lauren Leans on Innovation to Promote Progress THE “TIMELESS STYLE” PURVEYOR HAS LAID OUT A ROADMAP TO ACHIEVE NET-ZERO GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS ACROSS THE VALUE CHAIN BY 2040. V I C K I M. YO U N G
alph Lauren Corp.’s founder and chairman Ralph Lauren and CEO Patrice Louvet have put together a sustainability framework where the legacy of the company includes not only the creation of beautiful products, but also their production in a way that gives thought to the world, including trying to make it better place, socially and environmentally. Here, vice president of sustainability Devon Leahy provides insight on some of the goals that comprise the company’s sustainability mission. Joining her is chief people officer and head of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation Roseann Lynch, who provides a snapshot of the company’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. Sourcing Journal: How does the purpose of the company, which is to inspire the dream of a better life through authenticity and timeless style, anchor Ralph Lauren Corp.’s ‘Design the Change’ journey? Devon Leahy: When Ralph founded our company more than 50 years ago, he did so with the conviction that whatever we create is meant to endure the test of time. This
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philosophy is deeply embedded in our brand and our purpose—to inspire the dream of a better life through authenticity and timeless style—and anchored in our journey to create positive social and environmental impact across our company, our industry and our society. Through our global citizenship and sustainability strategy, we are doing our part to create an equitable and sustainable future. While we are always evolving our approach to protect the planet and support the communities we serve, our purpose will continue to guide us along the way. SJ: On company conference calls, CEO Patrice Louvet has discussed the resale market and circularity. Please provide some details on the company’s comprehensive circularity strategy. D.L.: Anchored in Ralph’s vision and with our purpose as our guide, we have embraced the idea of timeless style to deliver inspiration and value to our stakeholders. Today, this sense of timelessness extends to bringing circular principles into the design, manufacturing and use of our products through training and education and the implementation of goals
As the number of consumers seeking eco-friendly products rises each year, The Chemours Company has sought to embed sustainability throughout its organization, developing an assessment methodology called EVOLVE 2030 to set and carry out its goals. Amber Wellman, sustainability director, Advanced Performance Materials at Chemours, dives deeper into the new goals the chemical company has set and the achievements already made. Sourcing Journal: What role do you feel your company plays in the sustainability conversation in 2022? Amber Wellman: Chemours is committed to creating a better world through the power of our chemistry and leading our industry on sustainability. I am very proud of our work toward achieving our 2030 Corporate Responsibility Commitment goals—including a bold 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from operations on a journey to net zero by 2050, as well as a 99 percent or more reduction in process emissions of fluorinated organic compounds. I believe in the power of our chemistries to help improve people’s lives. Chemours’ chemistries enable thousands of products people use every day, from phones to cars and medical devices. These are also critical to building a sustainable future, including the realization of global decarbonization ambitions.
I believe in the power of our chemistries to help improve people’s lives.” What role do you feel your company plays in the sustainability conversation in 2022? A.W.: Corporate responsibility is a differentiator for Chemours, and we do well by first doing good. Whether that’s through expanded science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) scholarship initiatives, commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace, or investment in innovation as we drive toward more sustainable solutions. When it comes to delivering more sustainable solutions, we developed a third-party verified portfolio sustainability assessment methodology called EVOLVE 2030. To set ourselves apart from ambiguous, greenwashed sustainability claims, we used a data-driven and science-based approach to evaluating
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how our products contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with clear criteria for scoring. Moreover, it allows us to assess our products from a full lifecycle perspective. This assessment approach powers Chemours’ decision-making to drive more strategic portfolio management, meaningful product improvements, and ultimately, value for our customers while minimizing the impact on our planet. Can Chemours elaborate on its net zero journey goals that it established last year? A.W.: Chemours is a solution-minded company that responds to societal needs and expectations. Last year, when we committed to achieving a 60 percent reduction in scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 2030, on a path to net zero by 2050, it demonstrated how we continue to challenge ourselves and our approach. So far, we have achieved a 29 percent absolute reduction of operations-related GHG emissions toward our 2030 goal. At our sites, we’re deploying emissions control technologies for manufacturing; pursuing energy efficiency; and integrating renewables in a broader, deeper way. For example, our Mechelen, Belgium site has achieved carbon-free energy, and in 2021, we signed a renewable power purchase agreement to support 26 percent of our Louisville, Ky. site demand. How has Chemours evolved in its development of chemicals for apparel/footwear clients? A.W.: Teflon EcoElite™ is the first renewably sourced, plantbased, and non-fluorinated water and water-based stain repellent technology for fabrics. Teflon EcoElite™ finish can be applied to a variety of fabrics without impacting feel or breathability, and it is up to three times more durable than other non-fluorinated, water-repellent finishes. Because many of its ingredients can be regrown and replaced over time, its production leaves a smaller environmental footprint. With so much focus on how fast fashion can impact the environment, Teflon EcoElite™ finish keeps apparel and footwear looking newer longer and extending its useful life.
HOW EVOLVE 2030 SET SUSTAINABILITY IN MOTION FOR THE CHEMOURS COMPANY
like our commitment to source sustainable key materials by 2025. Our comprehensive circularity strategy is reinforced by our belief that Ralph Lauren products should not only endure the test of time but have infinite lifecycles. Aligned with this approach, we set a goal to make five iconic products (“icons”) Cradle to Cradle Certified by 2025. C2C certified products will help us evolve how we define what it means for products to be truly ‘timeless,’ and design products that are safely and responsibly made. SJ: The company launched—and is opensourcing—the first phase of Color on Demand, a platform working with Dow that sustainably dyes cotton and at the same time addresses water scarcity and pollution and cuts the number of chemicals used. How many phases are planned and when do you start the next phase? D.L.: As part of the first phase of Color on Demand, we partnered with Dow, a materials science leader, to optimize a pre-treatment solution they created called ECOFAST Pure and developed a more efficient and sustainable cotton textile dyeing process. Upon launching Color on Demand with Dow, we challenged ourselves to create an even more sustainable platform for cotton dyeing. As we dug into the process and explored different technologies, our aspirations for what we could achieve expanded. We very quickly realized that we could develop something truly transformative while generating significantly fewer negative environmental impacts, by coloring our products later in their development process. Our ultimate ambition is to optimize the platform and deliver the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dyeing system. We are proud to have partnered with Dow on this innovation and to share it openly with our industry, with the hope that it will help transform how we preserve and use water in our global supply chains. SJ: On the topic of cotton, the company last October through its Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation partnered with North Carolina’s Soil Health Institute to start the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund, starting with a $5 million donation and with the
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aim of promoting more sustainable cotton production stateside and reducing the carbon dioxide emissions. Can you provide more details of the program? D.L.: The U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (URSCF) is another example of our work to scale solutions that build resilience and long-term positive impact. The USRCF is an ambitious industry-first initiative created through a founding grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to the Soil Health Institute (SHI). Through this initiative, SHI aims to assist farmers and growers in implementing regenerative agricultural practices across more than one million acres of U.S. cotton cropland. Implemented by incredible scientists at SHI, the unique—farmer-facing—science-based initiative will support long-term sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of drawing down one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026. We are also excited to engage with Historically Black Colleges and Universities as part of this [initiative], specifically those with agricultural programs. [This will help] develop increased access to career paths in decision-making positions in U.S. agriculture and establish mentoring programs to help prepare the next generation of scientists and leaders in [the agricultural field]. SJ: How does the company’s 2020 minority investment in material-science startup Natural Fiber Welding further advance Ralph Lauren Corp.’s sustainability goals? DL: Recently, we launched the RLX CLARUS
THE RLX CLARUS POLO SHIRT.
“Our comprehensive circularity strategy is reinforced by our belief that Ralph Lauren products should not only endure the test of time but have infinite lifecycles.” — Devon Leah, Ralph Lauren Corp.
Polo Shirt, made with the world’s first high-performance cotton fabric. The RLX CLARUS Polo was developed through our partnership with Natural Fiber Welding (NFW) and aligns with our commitment to design for a circular economy. We invested in NFW in 2020 to help advance our sustainable materials and circularity goals in new and innovative ways. Overall, we see the scalability of the NFW technology as a key enabler to allow us to efficiently scale the use of recycled cotton in our supply chain. SJ: February saw Ralph Lauren once again as the designer of Team USA outfits at the Beijing Olympics. The company also collaborated again with textile innovation firm Skyscrape and this year saw the use of new thermoregulating outerwear. Can you talk about the features of Team USA’s uniform and how it was designed with sustainability in mind? D.L.: Polo Ralph Lauren has been a longstanding official outfitter of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams. For the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, we developed and invested in groundbreaking innovations in sustainable materials and manufacturing technologies. We partnered with Skyscrape to debut Intelligent Insulation, a first-to-market temperature responsive fabric that adapts to cooler temperatures by expanding and creating a layer of insulation. SJ: As we look to the Road to 2030, what are the targets that the company has set? D.L.: Our net zero roadmap outlines our plan to meet our goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across our value chain by 2040. To put us on the path to achieve this goal, we are committed to reducing emissions by 30 percent by 2030, our sciencebased target in line with the global reductions needed to limit average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Our climate strategy prioritizes the elimination of emissions within our value chain. For example, we are moving to more sustainable production practices for our raw materials and increasing the use of
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renewable energy for manufacturing in our product supply chain. We are also committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity in our stores, offices and distribution centers to address emissions in our owned and operated facilities by 2025. SJ: Ralph Lauren has been active in taking action on DE&I in the workplace. Tell me about some of the company’s initiatives. Roseann Lynch: Our commitments to diversity, which include creating an inclusive culture and a place of belonging, have been part of this company since Ralph Lauren founded it more than 50 years ago. From designing a talent pipeline to achieve parity and equity at all levels to tying executive renumeration to our ESG initiatives, and to how we portray the American Dream to our consumers, our work includes looking critically at the structures and practices inside our company. To support this, we have structured programs to create an environment where all voices are welcome. Our employee resource groups enable open dialogue, help define our focus areas and properly prioritize action plans and necessary resources to develop solutions. We have expanded and increased our educational events with a focus on amplifying diverse experiences and progressing the understanding of the communities we serve. We are committed to the growth and development of our employees, and we focus on building an inclusive culture through awareness, learning and deployment of mandatory DE&I trainings globally. We also offer mentoring and professional development programs to elevate underrepresented talent at all levels. In addition, we made a series of commitments to take action on racial equity to deepen our efforts—including elevating Black talent, amplifying diverse voices and perspectives, forging new creative partnerships, deepening our investments in education, connecting with our consumers and leveraging our brand voice to broaden our storytelling, among others.
ADVOCATING FOR A MORE ROBUST RECYCLING INFRASTRUCTURE “Sustainability is now a standard operating procedure in business and is not a fading trend,” said Claudia de Witte, sustainability leader of Eastman. With its dual platform of innovation and sustainability, Eastman will invest more than 75 percent of its textiles R&D resources in circular solutions by 2025, mapping sustainability targets to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Here, she further details the company’s initiatives. Sourcing Journal: How does Eastman’s material-to-material molecular recycling help your partner brands preserve natural materials? Claudia de Witte: Eastman’s Naia™ Renew cellulosic fiber is produced from 60 percent sustainably sourced wood pulp and 40 percent certified* recycled waste materials. With Naia™ Renew, hard-to-recycle waste material is broken down to its basic building blocks using Eastman’s carbon renewal technology. Naia™ is produced in a closed-loop process which prioritizes the safe and environmentally sound use of chemicals, enables a measurably reduced carbon footprint over the fiber’s life cycle, and is certified biodegradable and compostable to third-party standards. By 2025, more than 50 percent of the textile portfolio will be Naia™ Renew, and by 2030, more than 90 percent of the portfolio will be Naia™ Renew.
Sustainability is not a trend; it is now a standard operating procedure in business.”
What are some common misconceptions your brand and retail partners have about assessing the sustainability of the components in their products? C.d.W.: One misconception is that traditional recycling methods alone are enough to solve the global plastic waste problem. Mechanical recycling is great for the types of plastic it can process; however, several other types of hard-to-recycle waste materials still go into landfills or incinerators or end up in the environment. Our molecular recycling technology can recycle materials that cannot be recycled through current mechanical recycling processes, such as post-consumer carpets and other mixed-waste materials. By breaking waste down to its molecular building blocks and rebuilding it into new materials, it can create an infinite life span for materials without a reduction in quality or performance. By 2030, we expect to recycle up to 500 million pounds (~225 million kg) of waste materials annually. Another misconception is that sustainable solutions are not stylish, but with Naia™ Renew, there is zero compromise on quality, comfort and style.
How can you help brands target the growing home market with sustainable textiles? C.d.W.: The home textile market is a highly fragmented and slow-growth market in which consumers are need-based buyers. Our recent study highlighted that as brands look to offer more sustainable bedsheet solutions, they must showcase how these solutions will meet or exceed consumers’ primary needs for comfort, quality and softness. The Covid-19 pandemic increased consumer desire for higher-quality, more sustainable bedsheets that offer a better night’s rest. Fibers that improve sleep quality can drive purchase intent, close the comfort satisfaction gap, and differentiate brands. Meanwhile, established players and new entrants can reposition themselves as sustainable leaders in the eyes of the consumer.
What will it take for the industry to meet its aggressive sustainability goals? C.d.W.: Partnership, collaboration and transparency, plus knowledge sharing to increase consumer awareness of the definitions and sustainable fiber options in circular fashion. Eastman Naia™ is committed to collaborate with organizations that are on the front lines of uniting thought leaders, manufacturers, brands, NGOs, academies and municipalities to collectively build a more sustainable textiles industry and have a measurable impact. We work closely with global sustainability-focused organizations like Canopy, Textile Exchange, The Microfibre Consortium (TMC), Accelerating Circularity, and Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC).
*Naia™ Renew recycled content is achieved by allocation of recycled waste material using an ISCC-certified mass balance process.
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Neiman Marcus Has Big Plans for Circularity THE GROUP EXTENDED THE LIFE OF MORE THAN 350,000 LUXURY ITEMS IN 2021 BY FOCUSING ON ALTERATIONS, RESTORATION AND RESALE.
KAT E N I S H I M U RA
eiman Marcus Group extended the life of more than 350,000 luxury items in 2021 by focusing on alterations, restoration and resale. These circular initiatives are central of the company’s new environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework, CEO Geoffrey Van Raemdonck wrote in Neiman’s introductory impact report last month. By 2025, Neiman Marcus aims to divert 1 million items from landfill through its investments in in-house services and the circular economy. During 2021 alone, tailors and artisans altered 172,304 items and repaired 155,258 products. The company’s Southeast service center repairs damaged and returned merchandise such as footwear and handbags by resoling and stretching shoes, re-dyeing and refinishing leather, cleaning or replacing hardware and more. Neiman Marcus said the center processed $81 million in merchandise in 2021, and returned 73 percent, or $59 million in product, to store shelves. While Neiman Marcus doesn’t currently advertise these services, it plans to do so in the next year. Subsidiary Bergdorf Goodman will continue a twoyear partnership with luxury leather repair group Santana Leather Care, which restores goods for store clients upon request. Meanwhile, the company sees resale as a critical channel to keep product in circulation. Neiman Marcus said its long-term equity investment in handbag and accessories re-
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commerce platform Fashionphile meant 22,836 items sold through resale last year. Their integration enabled consumers to drop off goods they would like to sell on the Fashionphile platform, and pick up purchases, at Neiman Marcus locations. The partnership has resulted in 40,000 resale items sold since it began in 2019. Neiman Marcus plans to open Fashionphile selling studios featuring a curated assortment in all U.S. stores. The resale platform is currently pursuing B Corp certification and aims to quantify the environmental impact of each product it sells through its own channel as well as the studios. Neiman instituted a number of firsts in 2021, including measuring its carbon footprint, beginning to offset its impact with renewable energy contracts, and establishing science-based targets. It established a dedicated internal ESG team and crossfunctional steering committee to lead its work and drive progress through oversight. Third-party auditing and materiality assessments revealed that climate change is a main issue for stakeholders—and reducing carbon emissions topped the priority list. Neiman Marcus worked with engineering and environmental consulting firm Antea Group to measure Scope 1 and 2 baseline emissions for its real estate portfolio and map decarbonization plans and short-tomedium-term targets.
NEIMAN MARCUS’ PARTNERSHIP WITH FASHIONPHILE HAS FACILITATED THE RESALE OF 40,000 ITEMS.
The firm found that emissions from purchased electricity contribute to almost 90 percent of Neiman Marcus’ current greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. It also identified specific emissions hotspots at select locations that could be mitigated through investments in energy efficiency, AI and electrification, replacing the need for fossil fuels. Neiman Marcus cut Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 23 percent in 2019-2020, and aims to reach a 50 percent reduction by 2025 from a 2019 baseline. Transportation emissions are another area where Neiman hopes to cut carbon. In January 2021, it said it planned to invest $90 million over two years to expand its Pittston, Penn. distribution center and revamp its main facility in Dallas. This will enable Neiman to better respond to regional needs, improving speed to shoppers and product replenishment times. While Neiman Marcus has relied heavily on its Texas facility for national distribution, it can reduce emissions and miles traveled for orders going to the East Coast by allocating them to Pittston, it said. Most emissions related to the business come from the sourcing, manufacturing and disposal of merchandise, however, and the retailer is working with its brand partners to increase revenue from the sale of sustainable products, which it believes will fund the sector’s shift toward a more environmentally conscious supply chain. The company is developing a preferred product attributes framework in its product management software to promote ethically
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and sustainably made goods prime on its e-commerce site. In order to receive placement in collections like “Fashioned For Change” and “Conscious Curation,” a brand must display one of the preferred attributes, including being made from sustainably materials, being responsibly produced, demonstrating supply chain transparency, giving back through philanthropic initiatives, or being made by a diverse designer or brand. Each attribute is met by obtaining third-party certifications from groups like the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex or participating in programs like the Open Apparel Registry. While it doesn’t manufacture its own products, Neiman Marcus said it wants brand partners to adopt sustainable materials and processes. It joined Textile Exchange (TE) last year to access insights about materials and connect suppliers with the resources needed to make changes. Claire Bergkamp, TE’s chief operating officer, said Neiman Marcus “has the power to change their directly controlled products and influence on a much larger scale,” noting that it will take leadership from retailers to push the usage of preferred materials and “evoke the industry-wide change we need.” Van Raemdonck said Neiman’s leadership in the industry can help foster change. “We can and must lead our own business responsibly, and we recognize the positive ripple effects this will inspire throughout our industry,” he said.
“We can and must lead our own business responsibly, and we recognize the positive ripple effects this will inspire throughout our industry.” — Geoffrey Van Raemdonck, Neiman Marcus Group
INSIDE LENZING’S LOW-IMPACT FIBER EVOLUTION & INNOVATION Going back decades, Lenzing has been an early mover in sustainability. Before buzzwords like “eco-friendly,” the fiber producer was creating products with a lower environmental footprint. This pioneering approach to sustainable action continues today through fiber innovations and ambitious goals. Tricia Carey, director global business development Americas and denim at Lenzing, chats about fiber milestones and the evolution of sustainability awareness. Sourcing Journal: When Lenzing’s TENCEL™ brand debuted in 1992, it was ahead of its time in sustainable innovation. How has the sustainability conversation changed since? Tricia Carey: Thirty years ago, the marketing and advertising for TENCEL™ Lyocell did not focus on environmental claims. The textile and apparel market was not considering the environment as a key factor. Around 2000, select companies started asking questions. First it was about forestry, then water, chemical and end of life. Our first life cycle assessment published in 2008 when people did not even know what the term LCA meant. Now we use metrics to express the environmental impact of TENCEL™ fibers. Eventually the market woke to NGOs like Greenpeace, Canopy, Changing Markets and associations like Textile Exchange and Sustainable Apparel Coalition to provide education, tools and convening. In 2016, we discovered the U.N. SDGs, and how environment and social impact interconnect. It was a new era, making competitors companions for change. Your circular TENCEL™ x REFIBRA™ fibers just celebrated their five-year anniversary. How has this technology advanced? T.C.: REFIBRA™ Technology continues to advance in the collection, sorting and processing stages of circularity. Launching a circular fiber in 2017 was definitely ahead of the time. Educating the market that we can upcycle cotton scraps to make a new fiber was quite a foreign concept. Since then, REFIBRA™ Technology has increased the incorporation of waste content in the fiber, added pulp suppliers, grown the supply chain base and developed countless brand programs and social media marketing campaigns. There have been enormous changes, but this will be nothing compared to the next five years, because now the market is ready and policies are ready to be implemented. Circularity also pertains to garments’ end of life, and a recent independent study* confirmed TENCEL™ fibers’ biodegradability.
What does this finding mean for the apparel and home textile industries? T.C.: Coming from nature and going back to nature has always been the basis of our TENCEL™ fibers. Now we have the data to prove the biodegradability and compostability, as well as the certifications. Brands and consumers have assurance that garments with TENCEL™ fibers biodegrade in the ocean within a short period of time at the end of their life cycle. Among Lenzing’s sustainability goals are halving productrelated carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. Where are you in this process, and what are some recent carbon reduction wins? T.C.: The actions toward our goals include reduction and engagement. With our improved climate change transparency and disclosure, we achieved leadership status with an ‘A’ rating in the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project). We successfully completed and commissioned the air purification and sulfur recovery plant in Lenzing, Austria to reduce scope-3 emissions. Four group production sites now use 100 percent renewable electricity from the grid. We also have continued supplier engagement for scope-3 reductions. We seek to support our mill and brand partners with our carbon zero TENCEL™ fibers. Last year, we launched carbon-zero TENCEL™ with REFIBRA™ technology to bring circularity and climate action into one product. We know there is a long way to reach the goals, but with each project we are getting closer.
Coming from nature and going back to nature has always been the basis of our TENCEL™ fibers.”
* “Degradation of Synthetic and Wood-Based Cellulose Fabrics in the Marine Environment: Comparative Assessment of Field, Aquarium and Bioreactor Experiments,” University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, October 2021
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Consumer Appetite Adds Fuel to India Brands Pledge THE COUNTRY’S BIGGEST BRANDS HAVE ALIGNED FOR SUSTAINABLE CHANGE THAT RUNS IN TANDEM WITH SHIFTING CUSTOMER VALUES.
M AY U S A I N I
hen 16 of India’s biggest brands came together with a pledge to do their part to help save the planet in 2019, it represented a group wielding economic might of approximately $3.95 billion. The accord: to source and utilize a substantial portion of their total consumption using sustainable raw materials and processes by 2025. The project, Su.Re, which stands for Sustainable Resolution, was a move geared toward fashion that contributes to a clean environment. It is led by the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) and Rise Worldwide Ltd., the sports and lifestyle arm of Reliance Ltd., one of India’s biggest industrial conglomerates. The signatories include retailers and brands such as Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail, Arvind Fashions, Bestseller, Biba, Future Group, House of Anita Dongre, 109F, Lifestyle, Levi’s, Max,
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Raymond, Shoppers Stop, Spykar, W, Trends and Westside. “This is a joint initiative of CMAI and Rise to commit themselves to transferring a major portion of their processes, products and raw materials to a more environmentally sustainable and greener aspect than what they are today,” Rahul Mehta, chief mentor at CMAI, told Sourcing Journal. “This is a huge step by CMAI, because once the top 16 brands and retailers undertake a certain commitment it is only a matter of time before the smaller players will join the bandwagon. We think this will mark a very significant step toward sustainability. It is one of the major initiatives of CMAI,” he said. A consolidated vision is clearly seen as the way forward. Jaspreet Chandok, head, Rise Fashion & Lifestyle, observed: “In our initial planning, one of the challenges we noticed with retailers was that while there was intent at
the top to adopt sustainable practices, there wasn’t necessarily enough information and connections available for them to effectively plan and activate. With SU.RE, we are focusing on making available everything from sustainable fiber sourcing to experts in this field to retailers. They can then choose their own paths in accordance with their business plans. Our belief is that active engagement itself will push retailers to adopt new sustainable technologies as consumers become more aware and demand more sustainable products,” he said. Retailers said that they have been influenced heavily by the way consumption is changing in India. “From a retail market point of view, going digital and backing sustainable innovation is not optional anymore,” said Vineet Gautam, CEO, Bestseller India. Consumption patterns, expected to change dramatically by 2030, are helping brands reimagine their attitudes. “Consumption patterns will definitely increase multifold, but the focus will not be solely on buying more but on buying better.
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The ever-increasing aspiration in the tier 4/tier 5 market when provided with better access will change this intent to actual spends,” said Gautam. He said that while consumers were long driven by value or brand names they are changing to be “purpose-driven” in their purchases. “Not only are they open to paying a premium price for brands that synergize with their beliefs and lifestyle, they’re also willing to alter their shopping habits and lead the change towards a better tomorrow. Millennials and Gen Z’s are driving this change by trying to reduce their environmental impact by embracing sustainability as a way of life. It’s not restricted to shopping alone,” he added. As CMAI’s Mehta pointed out, results are never instant when it comes to sustainable change. “Sustainability by its very character needs to be spread over a period of time–it is not just about a chemical being banned–it is timeconsuming investment. So, we are taking a practical approach and hoping we will be able to help the industry along,” he said.
“Once the top 16 brands and retailers undertake a certain commitment it is only a matter of time before the smaller players will join the bandwagon.” — Rahul Mehta, CMAI
RECYCLING IS THE BACKBONE AT BOSSA Bossa wants post-consumer recycling textiles to be the denim industry’s new norm in its march toward broad sustainability. Examples include its “Denim is Reborn in Bossa,” where 1,000 old denim jeans shredded into fiber can produce 2,000 meters of 20 percent PCRD blended fabric, plus its “DENIM DEAL,” signed by over 30 international partners committed to certain sustainable standards (i.e., using at least 5 percent recycled textile in all denim garments). Bossa’s RE-SET collection, launched in 2006 with organic cotton and natural dyestuff, is constantly updated and today includes a wide range of products with natural dyestuff, recycled cotton, recycled PET, organic cotton, natural fibers (i.e. linen, hemp, wool), BCI Cotton, cotton made in Africa, GMO-free Turkish cotton and naturally colored Cotton. Özge Özsoy, marketing chief of Bossa, talks to Sourcing Journal about how the company has embraced sustainability and grown over the past 71 years. Sourcing Journal: How have demands from your apparel clients changed and how is Bossa addressing them? Özge Özsoy: Many brands are committed to making their products sustainable and especially recycled in certain proportions, and we are happy to be the first supplier of many brands in this regard. We’ve invested in this area, increased capacity and will add a recycling process to our production. Our goal is to be a zero waste company. We’re now doing Bossa’s Hempy Collection in collaboration with Marmara Hemp, the result of a two-step certification— one for cultivation methods and one for the mechanical refining process. Brands can claim it on their garments and gain a strong commercial bonus. We will be showing new products at Kingpins, Denim By PV and Future Fabrics Expo London. As Bossa, we are developing a zero waste life cycle to close the loop. Since 2019, we have begun to use all of our textile wastes in our blend by opening or cleaning them. Finally, we’ve transparently explained our production figures for the last three years with our “Towards Zero Waste” booklet, which annually reports our production values. Beyond building greener product, what is Bossa doing for a Greener Turkey and the planet? Ö.Ö.: Bossa is the greenest mill in the Adana Organized Industrial Zone and we have implemented a central water treatment system. We have now reduced our water consumption
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to 30 liters per meter by complying with the requirements of the Ellen MacArthur Jean Redesign Project. We filter and send cleaned wastewater to this center for use in nature. We have an ongoing project to use remaining water in the loop. We also completed the first phase of our Solar Energy System project with a power of 7.033kW. With 18,270 panels on the roof, we avoid 5,064,607 kg of annual greenhouse gas emission and now produce 50 percent of our total energy need ourselves. With the roof reinforcements, the second phase of the Solar Energy System project has started. We also sponsor many tree sapling planting campaigns in our region and throughout Turkey. Bossa was an early adopter in sustainability for seven decades. What’s next for the company? Ö.Ö.: During those years, recycling was not very common, but we had many inititatives with our rPET project, producing 100-percent recycled denim using rPET and recycled cotton fibers. Sustainability has become a reality of our lives beyond an innovation. In the textile industry, especially the issue of water consumption, reducing carbon footprint is the most important and using more recycled materials is the way to achieve this.
Sustainability has become a reality of our lives beyond an innovation.”
How Science Saved the Industry in Tirupur WITH ALL THE FACILITIES SHUT DOWN OVER POLLUTION CONCERNS, A NEW APPROACH WAS NEEDED TO RESUSCITATE THE AREA, AND ITS ENVIRONMENT.
M AY U S A I N I
ore than a decade ago, it was said in Tirupur that the color of fashions in Europe and the US could be witnessed by those walking by the Noyyal river–so deep did the pollution from dyes run. Since then, the transformation in Tirupur has been immense. The use of water-filtration technology alongside more stringent rules surrounding the environment have changed the fate of the once polluted area. It stands as an example of the positive impact new technologies and processes can have on water deficient countries like India. Tirupur is an important production center, accounting for an estimated 55 percent of knitwear exports from India, with an expected turnover of 33 billion rupees or $4.36 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. “All the approved industries are following the zero liquid discharge norms. Otherwise they won’t be allowed,” Raja Shanmugham, president, Tirupur Exporters Association, told Sourcing Journal. Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) came about as a series of experimentation in the face of
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immense pressure, as the entire industry was shut down in 2010. The problem was immediate when the Madras High Court ordered the closing of all of the approximately 750 dyeing plants in response to farmers concern about polluted water. It brought the thriving export industry to its knees. “Factories were ordered to shut down until the pollution issue was solved. We were short on time and needed a solution urgently,” explained Sajid Hussain, CEO, Tamil Nadu Water Investment Company Limited. “The ZLD System removes dissolved solids (mainly salt) from the wastewater and returns pure water to the process. Reverse osmosis is used to concentrate pretreated waste stream and return the clean permeate to the process, funnel the reject to an evaporator, and send the evaporator concentrate to a crystallizer or spray dryer. The condensate from evaporator is also returned to the process,” he said. “We are a water deficient country, we have lot of overexploited ground water, so it is not a sustainable thing to keep drawing water, because these are all heavy, water intensive industries. We have demonstrated this to the country,” said Hussain. “Because the industry
AN ARIAL VIEW OF AN OXIDATION TANK IN TIRUPUR.
always has this Damocles sword over it, if they are noncompliant they will be closed down, or if complaints are there. With ZLD you can do this, there are so many benefits. This [technology has] won many global awards–it was a widely recognized effort.” The solution was not just technological, but also human. S. Nagarajan, who was president of the Dyers association of Tirupur (DAT) over the past decade, worked closely to find and implement solutions to keep the industry functioning. “I think my life span got reduced by 10 years,” he said. Looking back at the time, while the dyeing units were shut, fabric was sent long distances for dyeing, sometimes adding a 20-30 days to the completion of orders. “Buyers don’t always know what happened here, they think it is our duty to perform and follow, they don’t know what trouble we have gone through. For us, our conscience says we did good for society, we did a good job for the environment,” he said. The job is not quite over, however, as the hunt for improving technology is constant, as is the search for lower costs. Selva Kumar, who was the managing director for the Arulpuram common effluent treatment, the first location where the zero liquid discharge experiments began, was convinced of its efficacy. Ready to put his own money on the line to demonstrate this treatment, Kumar said that the project could be monitored by a third party agency–at the time it was the department of science and technology–and
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inked an agreement to demonstrate results in three months. It was a success. “The units were all closed, but even as they began to open slowly, we faced a lot of problems. Zero liquid discharge saved the industry which otherwise we would have closed a long time back. It is a model that has been studied by manufacturers from around the world, including from the United States, Japan, Bangladesh and other countries who came to study how we have done this,” he said. “In the beginning, the cost was so huge and the returns were not that good and many people didn’t really understand the necessity,” Hussain observed. “In terms of costs, it went up by 12 percent, though this is offset by other factors. Water is expensive, and the salts are recovered, so 50 percent of the operating cost in terms of salt and water is recovered making the true added cost closer to 6 percent. For those factories in other places, like Gujarat and Punjab that are not following the zero liquid discharge process, their costs are 6 percent less–which is significant in terms of dyeing costs. That is a big challenge.” The saving of water became apparent over the years, especially during the drought in 2013, when the units in Tirupur could continue to function. All told, 95 to 98 percent of the water can be recycled and almost 16 billion liters of water is being saved annually. Meanwhile, it is not just about the buyers or the consumers anymore. Manufacturers have a palpable sense of pride within the region–for the transformation achieved, the water saved and the pollution averted.
“For us, our conscience says we did good for society, we did a good job for the environment.” — S. Nagarajan, Dyers association of Tirupur
COTTON’S ROLE IN CLEANING UP THE FASHION LIFE CYCLE Textile waste is a well-documented problem, but the right fiber choice can make a significant difference in reducing this impact. As a natural fiber, cotton can biodegrade in various environments in about three months rather than possibly languishing in landfills. Here, Cotton Incorporated’s Jesse Daystar, vice president and chief sustainability officer; Andrea Samber, director of brand partnerships; and Katherine Absher, manager of fashion and digital design marketing, speak about the fiber’s lesser-known benefits and Cotton Incorporated’s circular solutions. Sourcing Journal: Cotton Incorporated was founded amid the rise of synthetic fibers in the 1970s. Today, as materials like polyester have grown their apparel market share, what are the sustainability implications? Jesse Daystar: Many decisions go into choosing a raw material for a specific product. Designers have to choose between creating products from petroleum-based plastic fibers or from renewable plant materials, like cotton. This is increasingly important as consumers consider the impacts of their plastic footprint and the plastic they eat, which a recent study* suggested is a credit card’s worth of plastic each week. The plastic pollution problem will continue to worsen unless the industry switches to plant-based, biodegradable materials that do not persist in the environment.
Circularity is in large part a material management challenge.” As fashion eyes more circularity, why is cotton an ideal fiber to accomplish these goals? J.D.: Virtually every part of the plant is used. Cottonseed goes into cattle feed rations or is crushed for cooking oil. Cottonseed linters—tiny fuzz left on cottonseed hulls—are used in paper products and food such as ice cream and beer. Even cottonseed hulls are added to non-food products like soap and fertilizers. If cottonseed and cotton byproducts were not used for these markets, other raw materials would be grown or manufactured to meet these raw material demands, placing an increased burden on the environment and resources. Circularity is in large part a material management challenge. For some of the most easily recycled materials such as plastic bottles, the challenge of waste collection
Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ program
is overwhelmingly apparent. We must keep these material collection challenges in mind and choose materials that are circular and biodegrade if they are not collected and recycled. The industry will increase the amount of recycled clothing through time, but textile recycling will be challenging from a financial and environmental standpoint. Since Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ launched in 2006, how has the initiative performed? Andrea Samber: This denim recycling program has kept over 1,950 tons of denim out of the landfill by transforming it into insulating material for a variety of applications—including building initiatives, pet bed inserts, and thermal insulation liners for sustainable food and/or pharmaceutical packaging. Brands and retailers, business and organizations, educational institutions and a multitude of groups and individuals have helped harness our collective power to grow and sustain this sustainability initiative that’s inspired consumers across the U.S. to extend the life of their old denim and make a difference. Since 2006, over 3.9 million denim pieces have been contributed for recycling. In 2020, Cotton Incorporated launched its FABRICAST™ library, enabling designers to use virtual cotton materials in 3D rendering tools. What impact can digital design have on reducing waste? Katherine Absher: Cotton Incorporated’s FABRICAST™ line of inspirational cotton and cotton-rich fabrics is now offered both physically and digitally. Digital fabrics enable designers and patternmakers to visualize, iterate and fit new styles much faster than traditional physical sampling using 3D design software. This has allowed many companies to greatly reduce physical sampling, thereby reducing waste, time to production and conserving resources associated with making, shipping and storing garment samples.
* “No Plastic in Nature: Assessing Plastic Ingestion from Nature to People,” Kala Senathirajah and Thava Palanisami, The University of Newcastle, Australia, June 2019
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A ‘Green’ Oasis In Bangladesh THE WORLD’S SECOND-LEADING EXPORT COUNTRY IS PLAYING A PIVOTAL ROLE IN DEFINING THE FACTORIES OF THE FUTURE.
M AY U S A I N I
hen Saeda Akter Mumu, an architect in Dhaka, began to focus on building green factories in Bangladesh in 2011, there were few takers for the concept: but the last decade has transformed everything. By the end of 2021, the country had more than 150 “green” garment factories–the highest total in the world. To the surprise of some, nine out of the top 10 green garment factories in the world are located in Bangladesh. Part of the reason for this change has been a shift in the mindset of manufacturers. “When I first started making green factory designs, I found that they were scared to build green factories because of the idea of higher costs. But over the years the idea that it can actually be cost saving has become prevalent. In the last 10 years, the water level in Gazipur has gone down by almost 15 feet. Just think, where will the next generation get water? We have to think about conserving water, we have to think about recycling–it is not just for LEED certification–it is essential,” Mumu said. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, awarded by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). It is a certification program for green buildings with a hierarchy of ratings– platinum being the most coveted. With almost 50 of the LEED-certified factories in Bangladesh garnering the platinum rating, the determination to lead the world by this measure is a point of pride in the country.
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Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of garments in the world, after China, with an approximate 2,500 factories employing four and a half million workers. “There is no pressure to make the green factories,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice president, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), “but on the other hand, there is no help from anyone either. It is the owners who want to make their factories environmentally sound. Buyers are not paying any more, but the cost of making a green factory is 30 percent higher.” Shaken by the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, the nine-story building which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 workers, manufacturers in Bangladesh have been under intense scrutiny. The green factory initiatives have been spearheaded by individual owners focusing attention on energy saving, water management and environmental concerns, infused with the spirit of winning the global game of creating better factories, all while keeping a sustained growth plan in view. “The way the industry is growing we need more energy, we can’t sustain unless we plan for it,” said Azim. “The last four months exports were $4 billion each month–the highest in our history. We are targeting an export figure of $45 billion for this financial year and are planning for $80 billion in exports by 2024.” It is not just ambition and growth, though. “The owners and the industry want to write the narrative in a different way,” said
“We had to change the general perception of Bangladesh, we want to be perceived as the best.” — Asif Ashraf, Urmi Group
Mohammad Monower Hossain, joint secretary (Sustainability), BGMEA. “Bangladesh has another story to tell, and it is being told through the green revolution. Manufacturers have taken this up in a very proactive way after the Rana Plaza situation, and projected sustainability as an area of concern to keep their narrative strong on the global scene.” Building codes minimize all environmental negativities in terms of carbon footprint and put an emphasis on worker health. Asif Ashraf, managing Director of Urmi Group agreed. UHM Limited, one of five factories owned by his group, was platinum LEED certified unit in 2018. “Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh have always been both resilient and innovative,” he explained. “There are several reasons why we have taken on green factories with so much, but we had to change the general perception of Bangladesh, we want to be perceived as the best.” There were other reasons too, he explained, including an expected increase in prices paid by buyers. “We were disappointed that didn’t happen,” he said, “But we didn’t stop there.” “Another thing is that we are very keen to do something for the future. We are not typical manufacturers who are only thinking about the profits in the moment–a majority of us think about the future. And yes, this is pretty expensive to make, and there is a lot of documentation and difficulties for a green factory. But at the end there is a return, in terms of energy savings, in terms of better lighting and facilities for the workers,” he said.
The problems of making green factories, however, cannot be underestimated. “In 2018 when we were making our green factory, we had to source and import many things from the toilet to the electric lights from different places, from wherever it was best. Monitoring and documenting the systems is not easy either,” Ashraf observed. And these aren’t just idle observations. Building the green factories has been a gauntlet of challenges, one that is being embraced and handled with education–and a growing number of manufacturers looking to go green. An approximate 500 garment factories are awaiting LEED certification by the US Green Building Council. Saeda Akter Mumu knows what’s at stake. “The manufacturers in the garment industry are taking a huge risk,” she observed. “Everyone wants to do something for sustainability, but they are scared of green factories because of the processes involved and the costs. You can’t imagine how much construction costs have gone up, these have almost doubled in the last six years–and each and every square inch is followed by the compliance team. Even new factories have to deal with a lot of retro fitting situations with the inspections. In our country, cost is an issue because we have to import so many things and hire technical manpower with the knowledge.” However, differentiation is increasingly key to sourcing, and Bangladesh’s focus on sustainability is providing a vision into the not-so-distant future. Saving energy and power are immediate benefits, as well as better lit and ventilated areas on the factory floor for the workers. A more sustainable future for everyone.
REMI HOLDINGS FACTORY IN BANGLADESH
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HOW CIRCULARITY CAN REDUCE RETAIL’S PLASTIC IMPACT Curbing waste and establishing circular systems are top-ofmind targets for fashion. Within this action plan, companies must consider not only textile waste, but the single-use plastic in apparel supply chains. Here, Camillo Colombo, executive general manager of Pact Retail Accessories, speaks to Sourcing Journal about the eco impact of reusing hangers. Sourcing Journal: It’s clear apparel retail has a plastic problem, but the focus recently has largely been on e-commerce packaging. Why must companies also consider plastics in brick-and-mortar environments? Camillo Colombo: Single-use products are not sustainable long-term, and it’s imperative we look to solutions which minimize impact on the environment. Where feasible, reusable merchandising techniques can eliminate a significant amount of waste. Behind reduction, reuse is the highest order on the waste hierarchy and it is essential in reducing environmental impacts. Our Hanger Reuse program is designed to keep garment hangers in circulation for several years. Reusing an item multiple times over can reduce its carbon emissions by up to 64 percent compared to single-use alternatives and uses 86 percent less water. These benefits are achieved by avoiding the energy intensive recycling and remanufacturing processes.
Reusing an item multiple times over can reduce its carbon emissions by up to 64 percent compared to single-use alternatives.” Why have Pact and your retail clients opted to recirculate plastic hangers rather than switching to another material? What limitations are there for ridding retail of the plastic hanger? C.C.: It’s important to consider what substrates can be fit for purpose and provide the best environmental benefit. How can the hanger merchandise a product, and can it meet the strength requirements of passing through the supply chain? Fiberboard is commonly thought to be a more sustainable option than plastic, however due to its inability to be reused, a fiberboard or cardboard hanger must be fully recycled, and then re-manufactured each time. We conducted an independent life cycle analysis on the environmental benefits of single-use cardboard and Reuse Plastic hangers, and since
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our hangers can be reused an average of 15 times, there is an overall carbon reduction of 74 percent compared with 15 single-use cardboard hangers. Pact Group also works to enable circularity in the packaged goods space. What can the apparel industry learn from the sustainability strides being made in food, beauty and consumer goods packaging? C.C.: Through our extensive research across our consumer goods industries, we have seen a strong growth in consumer preference towards more sustainable brands. Consumers are now making an active choice based on the sustainability of a product, and not just at the product attributes itself. Our research indicates that 88 percent of consumers support national packaging targets, which include the use of recycled material and utilizing reusable options where viable. What role should governments be playing in tackling plastic waste? What impact could regulation have on driving recycling efforts? C.C.: Many countries have initiated packaging targets; it is now time to make these targets mandatory to engage consumer and industry action. Pact is a member of the U.S. Plastics Pact and we support initiatives to work toward a common vision of a circular economy for plastics, as outlined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Initiative. There are measures such as a plastic tax being introduced in the U.K., which will apply to plastic products that contain less than 30 percent recycled content. We believe measures like this can spur industry action. We are leading in this area by having independently certified minimum 30 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in our plastic hangers, and we are working to grow that figure every day, with many hangers already being produced with up to 70 percent or even 90 percent PCR content.
Target Tests First Net Zero Energy Store in California THE UNIT WILL GENERATE RENEWABLE ENERGY THROUGH 3,420 SOLAR PANELS ACROSS ITS ROOF AND NEWLY INSTALLED CARPORT CANOPIES.
A RT H U R F R I E D M A N
revamped Target Corp. store in Vista, Calif. has been retrofitted to generate more renewable energy than it needs to operate each year, the retail giant revealed last month. The pilot location will test multiple innovations to reduce the building’s emissions and inform investments in new stores and remodeling programs toward Target’s longterm growth and sustainability goals. The store will generate renewable energy through 3,420 solar panels across its roof and newly installed carport canopies. The site is expected to produce up to a 10 percent energy surplus each year that it can transmit back to the local power grid, and Target has applied for net zero energy certification from the International Living Future Institute. The building also features elements to further reduce emissions, such as powering its HVAC heating through rooftop solar panels, instead of natural gas. In addition, the store switched to carbon dioxide refrigeration, a natural refrigerant, that Target will scale chainwide by 2040 to
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reduce its direct operations’ emissions by 20 percent. Minneapolis-based Target has nearly 2,000 stores. “We’ve been working for years at Target to shift toward sourcing more renewable energy and further reducing our carbon footprint, and our Vista store’s retrofit is the next step in our sustainability journey and a glimpse of the future we’re working toward,” said John Conlin, senior vice president of properties at Target. “Our new stores and remodel programs are designed to help achieve our sustainability goals as we test, learn and scale our innovations over time across our operations.” Target is building on the many ways it innovates through its stores and facilities to support the company’s sustainability strategy, Target Forward. The retailer has committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions companywide by 2040, and since 2017 has reduced its direct operations’ emissions by almost 27 percent. One of the ways it intends to reach its net zero goal is through sourcing 100 percent of its
electricity from renewable sources for its operations by 2030. Target’s offsite solar and wind energy contracts are helping it move quickly toward its renewable energy goal, as it has secured additional partnerships that will allow it to purchase nearly half of its electricity from renewable sources later this year. Target also conserves 10 percent of its stores’ total energy use by using LED lighting instead of conventional lighting. More than 25 percent of Target’s facilities have rooftop solar, helping the company save
millions annually in energy costs and reducing its emissions. Its Vista store is one of 542 Target buildings nationwide with solar installations. The recycling, donations and composting operations at the Vista store, alongside Target’s other facilities, support the retailer’s goal to divert 90 percent of its U.S. operations’ waste away from landfills by 2030 as it aims for Zero Waste certification. Target is already diverting 80 percent of its operational waste. The Vista site also offers electric vehicle charging spaces, and the chain provides more than 1,350 spaces at 150 locations across more than 20 states.
TARGET’S FIRST NET ZERO ENERGY STORE IN CALIFORNIA.
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Sourcing Journal: As the cotton industry focuses on driving down the environmental costs of farming, how are Supima growers in particular tackling this issue? Marc Lewkowitz: Agriculture depends on healthy land; therefore, destroying it is antithetical to surviving and being sustainable. There is a world of differences between the challenges in developed and developing agricultural communities, yet every grower is seeking and finding ways to improve. Supima cotton is grown in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—some of the world’s most regulated agricultural areas. These arid climates help protect the quality of the fiber but also have the challenge of limited rain in the growing season. Growers have found responsible approaches to balancing output against resources used and inputs required. Besides operational production efficiencies, growers use various tools to continually improve processes, such as drip irrigation, alternate cropping for improvements in soil amendments and technology to minimize soil disruption, compaction and erosion. Additionally, growers continuously participate with research initiatives and work with seed breeders and university agricultural extension programs to test and explore alternative practices.
If you make more durable products that consumers don’t value, you just end up making more durable trash.” One of Supima cotton’s benefits is improved durability. What is the environmental impact of longer product lifespans? M.L.: Supima cotton is exceptionally strong and has a clear, positive impact on durability. The cotton is fine with a natural characteristic called elongation—the fibers have natural elasticity and more can fit into the width of a yarn. Twisting in the spinning process produces an additional mechanical connection, strengthening the yarn and subsequent fabric. Durability is certainly part of the conversation about
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supima.com Morning, Supima Field
Cotton might be the most common natural fiber, but not all cotton is created equal. American-grown Supima cotton is a long-staple variety of the plant that offers enhanced strength and therefore longevity. Here, Supima president and CEO Marc Lewkowitz shares what separates Supima cotton and the sustainable effect of enhancing product value.
sustainable choices for fashion and home brands, but it must also be tied to product value. If you make more durable products that consumers don’t value, you just end up making more durable trash. A popular sustainable rallying cry is “Buy less, buy better.” How is Supima working with brand licensees to communicate an idea of value that transcends cost? M.L.: The United States is a consuming juggernaut, and constant discounting indicates overproduction and erodes consumers’ value perception. Right-sizing production along with responsible pricing is the minimum that sustainabilityChosen for beauty, function and feel. minded consumers should expect from the brands they choose to support. A small and exclusive crop, Supima is harder to grow, slower to process and demands intent of use by the brands that choose to work with it. Collaboration is a key component that enables brands to bring forth premium quality, responsibly made goods. To more effectively talk about sustainability, companies must know their supply chains. How is Supima working to unlock more sourcing transparency? M.L.: The textile industry is very complex and intentionally opaque, and without knowing details about product inputs, there isn’t much that anyone can say about responsible messaging relative to sustainability narratives. We’ve researched and partnered with various initiatives to enhance the knowledge of Supima cotton’s origin. With Oritain, we mapped out all Supima producing areas and created a unique “fingerprint” specific to the cotton and its growing environments. Oritain uses forensic science to analyze over 40 unique and specific trace elements and isotopes the cotton fiber picks up while growing. With the ability to analyze in parts per billion, Supima cotton can even be authenticated back to a singular farm of origin, as is being done with Kering Group. Supima cotton is brands’ fiber of choice for both authenticity and quality. Supima cotton is brands’ and retailers’ fiber of choice for both authenticity and quality.
THE SUSTAINABILITY IMPACT OF SUPIMA’S QUALITY & DURABILITY
Is Fashion Ready for SEC’s Carbon Disclosure Mandate? THE OVERSIGHT AGENCY WANTS TO MAKE CARBON DISCLOSURES MANDATORY. HOW PREPARED ARE FASHION BRANDS AND RETAILERS FOR THIS ‘BIG UPHEAVAL’? JASMIN MALIK CHUA
limate scientists are warning that the window of opportunity for averting the worst impacts of humancaused global warming is rapidly closing. A new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would require businesses to report, for the first time, their greenhouse-gas emissions, along with any risks climate change might pose to their bottom lines, could help push the issue to the front and center. Many companies already do this on their own, which makes the proposal far from groundbreaking, but it is significant because it will create a consistent, reliable and comparable framework for investors to make informed decisions, said climate change lawyer Rick Saines, who received France’s national order of merit for helping make the watershed 2015 Paris Agreement a success. Another effect the measure will have, he said, is reframing carbon disclosures not as something to be ballyhooed once a year in a sustainability report but as a critical line item in a company’s accounting. And that’s
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something that is long overdue in corporate America, which has long lagged behind its European counterparts.
MORE THAN ‘MARKETING COLLATERAL’
“Most of the sustainability departments originated out of marketing, and the sustainability reports were primarily a marketing collateral piece,” Saines said. “And in a sustainability marketing context, there’s been a lot of guesstimation and proxies for data. So, it’ll be interesting to see how companies have to internally respond to this because, in some cases, even though they’re already reporting on this type of information, they’re probably going to need to do it in a more robust way now.” There is no shortage of ESG frameworks, though there are “differences in teeth” from one to the next, said Simon Geale, executive vice president of procurement at Proxima, a supply chain consulting firm. While there are “pockets of commonality” among them, and even different regulations in different countries aren’t all that different, setting some common standards will go a long way
toward streamlining efforts and creating a level playing field. “Everyone wants to know that they’re making the right decisions based on common information,” he said. Even investors now have net-zero commitments because, like BlackRock, they recognize that climate risks are investment risks. No one will be surprised by this regulation, Geale said, though fashion companies will have different degrees of readiness. “It’s a big challenge, particularly when you’re doing low-cost-country sourcing [and] low-costcountry production,” he said. “You’ve got complex supply chains. It is a big challenge to go and solve; to just suddenly switch on a data flow—that’s not going to happen.” It’s likely for this reason that the SEC is suggesting a phased-in approach, with the requirements taking effect at the earliest in the fiscal year 2023, meaning they will apply to SEC filings in 2024. The agency appears to be drawing its guidance from the Task Force on Climaterelated Financial Disclosures, one of the most widely adopted frameworks. According to the proposed rule, filers will have to disclose their own direct and indirect greenhouse-gas emissions, known as Scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as those generated indirectly by suppliers, known as Scope 3 emissions, though there will be exceptions for materiality and company size. For fashion firms, however, Scope 3 emissions are nothing if not material, accounting for 80 percent to 90 percent of their total footprint, if not more. The CDP, the not-for-profit previously known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, estimates that Scope 3 emissions are, on average, 25 times as intensive as Scopes 1 and 2 in the apparel sector, versus 11 times in others. It’s in Scope 3 that most of the perils—both in terms of measurement and reporting— lie. The majority of clothing purveyors have limited visibility into their supply chain beyond the first tier. A mere 19 percent of brands, retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and sourcing agents in the Asia Pacific, North America and Europe claim to have full visibility of all stakeholders operating across their entire supply chain, according to a recent KPMG and Serai survey. An even
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smaller proportion—15 percent—claimed full traceability of the materials used to create their products. If the disclosure requirement pushes through, businesses that fail to thoroughly map their impact could open themselves up to securities fraud litigation. “The counterargument to be made is that because companies aren’t necessarily in a position to even determine what those climate change risks are, are you potentially harming investors by asking companies to stray away from their area of expertise and mandate?” said David Sacco, executive director of business consultancy NewTech Haven and an adjunct professor of finance at the University of New Haven. “Even for things like climate and carbon use, letting the free market determine [what] is the best way to do it because you’re incorporating the actual needs and desires of everybody participating in an economy as opposed to just the wishes of certain policymakers.”
BAD DATA IN, BAD DATA OUT
But regulating companies is important because “forward-thinking players” tend to be in the minority, said Maxine Bédat, director of The New Standard Institute, a “think and do tank” that uses data to promote accountability in the fashion industry. Only 100 fashion companies have approved Science Based Targets or commitments to set them. The Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act, a New York bill that The New Standard Institute backs, aims to go further than the SEC by requiring large companies conducting business in the state to also reduce their emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. Disclosure and action go hand in hand because the latter is predicated on the former, she noted, but mitigation must be the ultimate goal. One thing the SEC proposal would help with, however, is collecting better data, one of fashion’s biggest blindspots. Getting a sharper understanding of where the worst emissions occur will also help better channel reduction efforts, say in terms of financial incentives for suppliers to make energyefficiency improvements. It might even put to bed questions like how much the fashion industry contributes to global pollution.
“It’s a big challenge, particularly when you’re doing lowcost-country sourcing [and] low-cost-country production.” — Simon Geale, Proxima
WHY TECHNOLOGY IS THE ‘GREAT FACILITATOR’ OF SUSTAINABILITY Sustainability in the apparel supply chain is often associated with factors like eco-friendly materials and carbon emissions reduction. But the technologies powering the movement of these goods play a significant role in making sustainability practical for brands. Tobias Grabler, chief operating officer at supply chain software platform Topo Solutions, believes that a winning combination of data and collaboration tools are vital to ensuring that any real sustainability ambitions get off the ground. Sourcing Journal: What role do you feel technology plays in the sustainability conversation in 2022? Tobias Grabler: Technology is certainly a great facilitator of sustainability. But for people to accelerate the adoption of available technology—that requires a mindset change first. Data plays a major role here. With data, you create transparency both in the supply chain as well as in the products that consumers are buying, which is the first stepping stone to drive sustainability. But data alone is not all that’s necessary. You need to transform data into actionable insights. I can give a concrete example: With the right technology setup, you can provide all sorts of sustainability insights about a product or a supplier, which adds another dimension to already existing commercial data (e.g. price, quantities) in a timely manner so that procurement managers can make more sustainable procurement decisions. How has the current sustainability landscape shaped the priorities/goals you have for this year? T.G.: We at Topo will double down on our already broad and holistic sustainability solutions and will make them even more powerful, and we are striving to connect everyone involved in the entire supply chain. What advice do you have for apparel brands as they are building out more sustainable supply chains? T.G.: I believe that sustainability is the “new battlefield” to win consumers and many industry leaders are starting to understand that. Don’t view it just as laws and regulations that are imposed on you, but see it as a competitive edge. Don’t be a spectator, but an actor. Although it takes work to make these changes, the result is a supply chain that can contribute substantially for a sustainable future.
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Sustainability is the ‘new battlefield’ to win consumers and many industry leaders are starting to understand that.” Why is visibility and transparency so important and why is achieving sustainability in the supply chain so difficult? What are some of the roadblocks here? T.G.: If you start thinking about it, older, more antiquated ways of working—such as sending emails with Excel sheets back and forth—are quite siloed and will not lead to the required visibility and transparency that modern supply chains require. So again, modern digital platforms can provide efficient collaboration tools among all these involved parties. What do you think most brands are missing in their understanding of how to develop a sustainable supply chain? T.G.: Sustainability is a very wide field, especially in the supply chain. So you have to take a holistic approach to sustainability, otherwise you are quickly going down the greenwashing road. Additionally, you have to take all the stakeholders in your supply chain into account when taking a new direction. That means getting all your factory workers, as well as decision makers in elements like packaging and chemicals used in the production process, to have a shared view on the impacts that can be made. It is definitely a joint effort to achieve sustainability along the entire chain.
“If we do not rely on primary data and are only relying on LCAs, it’s like bad data in and bad data out,” Bédat said. “And we won’t be able to have much confidence in that information.” Trisha Dello Iacono, director of sustainability at the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents household names such as Adidas, Gap and J.Crew, said that the trade group is still poring over the details of the proposal but welcomes the effort. “I think the focus on reporting and measuring emissions is really important, since you can’t reduce what you don’t report and so this will help develop a single approach framework for reporting and hopefully reducing our emissions,” she said. “It’ll allow the industry to sing from the same song sheet, so to speak.” Reducing carbon emissions, Dello Iacono told Sourcing Journal, is a pre-competitive issue, and a collaborative one at that, which is why she appreciates the SEC giving companies the opportunity to comment through May 20. “I think it’s pretty obvious that we all need to move in this place of reducing our emissions, of tracking them, especially after the latest IPCC report showing that we need
to triple our action on this effort,” she added. “I know many of our members, as well as AAFA, will plan on submitting comments and have the opportunity to weigh in on the proposal itself.” Danny Ralph, chairman of Risilience, a climate change risk-analysis platform, recognizes that the SEC measure will be a disruptive one and not just in fashion, but said companies must grapple with the notion that they are responsible for their entire supply chain ecosystem sooner rather than later. The SEC proposal, after all, is just one piece; with the European Union’s draft directive on corporate sustainability due diligence and human-rights and environmental due diligence laws coming down the pike in Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Norway, companies will only become more culpable. “So the initial investment track is quite costly, especially the shorter the time period is, but these are only things that we should be doing anyway. And if you look at how much it costs to report annually, it’s fractions of a percent of the profits,” he said. “Some guardrails are important, and investors need this desperately. It’s going to be a big upheaval but we’ve been through other big upheavals.”
“It’s a big challenge, particularly when you’re doing lowcost-country sourcing [and] low-cost-country production.” — Simon Geale, Proxima
THE SEC WANTS TO MAKE CARBON DISCLOSURES MANDATORY.
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