A Moment Made for Change: Our Journey Continues
Today at VF Corporation, we released our fourth sustainability & responsibility report, Made for Change. This report illustrates our continued leadership in driving and delivering measurable, industry-wide progress against our science-based targets, sustainable materials, traceability, the circular economy and community impact. At VF, we have a legacy of prioritizing sustainability and responsibility. The Made for Change platform guides our sustainability and responsibility progress, keeping us on track to create a positive impact across people, our planet, and our products.
“VF is committed to fueling change in the apparel and footwear industries. We believe there is a reciprocal relationship between purpose and profit, and when we get it right, we create a virtuous cycle that positively impacts the world and our bottom line,” said Sean Cady, Vice President, Global Sustainability, Responsibility and Trade. “We’re proud of our work to date and know there is more work to do in this space independently and collaboratively with the global apparel industry and beyond. We’re confident we can drive continued progress while simultaneously delivering products that consumers desire.”
The timing of this edition of the report is particularly powerful: this is a moment made for change. Over the last two years, the world has seen a global pandemic envelop the world, a movement toward increased conversations and awareness about diversity and inclusion, and the massive effects of climate change on the environment. Leading into this time, and through it all, we prioritized our associates, provided support for suppliers, and addressed the needs of healthcare workers in our communities. We never lost sight of our end game: a commitment to making progress with the environment and sustainable manufacturing; a focus on responsible sourcing and the communities where VF and our brands have a footprint and/or a customer base; and supporting each of our brands in their efforts to continue delivering exceptional products that consumers want.
We acted with urgency and leveraged our resources along with the power of our brands to make real progress. Our latest Made for Change report features work done in FY2020 and includes key actions such as:
- Setting ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.
- Creating a Sustainable Materials Vision to strengthen our commitment to use more materials that originate from regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable or recycled sources.
- Issuing the apparel and footwear industry’s first green bond with proceeds allocated to projects focused on delivering positive environmental impacts.
- Reaching over 290,000 people through our Worker and Community Development program, aimed at improving the lives of workers and community members in our supply chain.
The VF brands are mission critical to our success; each focuses on initiatives that best align with the brand’s identity. Among the highlights from the report:
- The Timberland®, The North Face® and Vans® brands signed onto the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) Responsible Natural Rubber Commitment and stated a preference to source FSC-certified natural rubber whenever available.
- The Timberland® brand is helping to build a regenerative leather supply chain.
- The Dickies® brand supported black-owned small businesses through its $100,000 donation to the National Urban League Entrepreneurship Center and the Harold Hunter Foundation.
- The Napapirji® brand released its Circular Series of fully recyclable jackets, using ECONYL® regenerated nylon made from discarded fishing nets. The Eastpak® brand is using innovative principles with Re-Built to Resist, a groundbreaking collection of previously used backpacks that are transformed into new, unique designs.
- Our JanSport® brand used the equivalent of 13 million plastic bottles in recycled fabrics in 2019.
- The Kipling® brand consolidated its product offerings by 19%, resulting in the use of fewer manufacturing materials and less waste-to-landfill in 2020.
- The Smartwool® and icebreaker® brands which use the most wool in VF’s portfolio, helped launch the world’s first regenerative wool platform, ZQRX, in 2021.
Spotlight on the Mark We’ve Made
Made for Change shines a light on the successes we have accomplished across the environmental landscape. This includes topics common in most consumers’ everyday vernacular, including waste reduction, progress toward the elimination of single use plastics and reducing our carbon footprint, and many industry initiatives that are gaining momentum in part because of our efforts.
In FY2020, we developed a renewable energy strategy with key components based on the 2017 Green Building Policy requiring owned and leased buildings to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification standards. “Our commitment starts within our own buildings and expands across our brand portfolios. We are so excited to continue increasing energy efficiency across all of our buildings and distribution centers,” said Jeannie Renné-Malone, VF Vice President, Global Sustainability. “As of FY2020, 13 VF buildings are LEED certified or are BREEAM rated ‘good’ or higher.”
We also completed and moved into our new Denver, CO, headquarters. The building is certified LEED platinum and was designed for real-time energy monitoring, electric car charging stations and innovative waste management, reducing the building’s environmental footprint and improving associate health and wellbeing.
In FY2020, we increased the percentage of zero-waste distribution centers from 28% in FY2016 to 72%. Using a rigorous set of standards focusing on areas with the greatest impact including reducing, reusing, recycling and composting waste, our development of a robust three-step process allows us to evaluate and improve operations through tracking, assessment and verification.
In FY2020, we achieved 100% supplier compliance with our Global Wastewater Discharge standards. We’ve also supported suppliers in adopting water consumption and discharge best practices. Because water is a human right, we partnered with WaterAid Cambodia to bring safe drinking water and sanitation systems to rural communities throughout Cambodia.
A regenerative approach to agriculture uses farming or ranching principles that aim to help promote biodiversity, enhance water cycles, improve soil health and sequester carbon. As defined by the PUR Projet, these practices are intended to create net beneficial impacts on ecosystem services and provide beneficial economic and social impacts for farmers and local communities. As part of this approach, in FY20 the Timberland® brand launched a collection of boots made with leather from verified regenerative ranches, while the Dickies® brand joined experts in fueling momentum for the use of sustainable cotton. The Smartwool® and icebreaker® brands, which use the most wool in VF’s portfolio, helped launch the world’s first regenerative wool platform, ZQRX, in 2021.
These achievements further our corporate vision to be both purpose-led and growth driven. Thanks to the power of our portfolio of global brands, we can do so at scale.
In FY2021, we began a climate risk analysis that aligns with the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). We also supported additional advocacy efforts this year, around limiting global temperature rise and advocating for innovative climate and energy policies.
We set some of the most ambitious science-based targets in the industry: We aim to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 55% by 2030 (2017 baseline), and as of the end of FY2020, we are already at a 17% reduction. We modeled data to reach these goals across our entire value chain, from farm to store to help us better identify and implement these reduction strategies for our ambitious Scope 3 science-based target of reducing GHG from purchased goods and services and upstream transportation by 30% (2017 baseline).
The North Face® brand sponsorship of the “Protect Our Winters Hot Planet/Cool Athletes” climate education program brings professional athletes to middle and high schools across the country with fun, interactive lessons.
The VF Foundation provides grants to community organizations, including those whose priority initiatives align with our purpose. In 2020, the Foundation donated $6.2M+ to 72 community partners, including toward Covid-19 relief efforts for the garment workers in VF’s supply chain in Bangladesh, allowing more than 5,500 households to buy basic necessities. Our goal is to improve the lives of one million workers and their communities by 2025 and two million by 2030.
VF associates in North America logged 11,000 hours of volunteer time. Looking forward, we have committed that our associates will contribute one million hours to local communities by 2025.
Charting the Course Forward
Our progress is just the beginning: the FY2020 Made for Change report outlines the company’s aggressive forward-looking goals to continue improving the planet and strengthening communities.
Interested in learning more? Check back here next week for a deeper dive into our sustainability efforts and progress and our goals looking ahead.