The Sun's the Limit
Despite the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, VF’s drive for the betterment of people and the planet continues to press forward, and in some cases with more focus and dedication than ever.
“We’ve seen many challenges with the pandemic, however, one benefit has been the Earth’s remarkable resiliency when given a breather,” stated Jeannie Renne-Malone, VF’s Vice President of Global Sustainability. “Observing environmental improvements in real-time has motivated VF and our partners to maintain our sustainability focus, and in many cases push even harder.”
One example is VF’s partner factory, QuangViet, in Vietnam celebrated the installation of 3MWp solar panels. In July, QuangViet, which produces for The North Face® brand, completed its installation of 3MWp solar panels, with plans to add another 3MWp installation this fall. MWp, an abbreviation for megawatt peak, measures the maximum output of power from a solar source. With the addition, 90% of captured sunlight will be used for energy and will help decrease factory carbon emissions by 75,000 tons over the next 20-year period.
The project was made possible by the Vietnam Improvement Program in partnership with the International Finance Corporation. VF is a sponsor of the program with the aim to promote resource efficiency and renewable energy in its partner factories. The efforts have had a ripple effect in Vietnam—the government now encourages companies to install solar rooftop technologies and sell the excess energy to the grid. It’s a win-win.
VF also continues to evolve its HIGG FEM training initiative in which factory employees are trained on using the HIGG FEM module, along with the importance of measuring environmental sustainability impacts in the fight against climate change. In previous years, the training was conducted in person. This year, due to COVID, the sustainability team rapidly switched to virtual trainings for factory associates, and successfully trained more than 600 participants.
“Although we face challenging times, we have to be agile and find new ways of working to make sure we continue to partner with our suppliers to reduce environmental impacts,” said Joyce Tsoi, Senior Manager of Supply Chain Sustainability at VF. “We quickly replaced all in-country face-to-face trainings and built a backup plan to switch to Zoom trainings globally to continue to advance our sustainability initiatives.”
Roughly 36 of VF’s partner facilities use solar energy, and to date nearly 600 associates in 399 factories globally have been virtually trained on supply chain environmental best practices from the top-level down. Previously conducted in person, the trainings were up and running online within weeks of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to safely promote improved environmental performance by VF’s factories and their people.
Tsoi added, “Sustainability is such a key issue for us to tackle, and we have the responsibility and accountability to drive these positive changes.”