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Kontoor Brands Just Achieved a Sustainable Milestone

Kontoor Brands, the parent company of Wrangler and Lee Jeans, announced Monday that it has reached zero-waste designation for all of its owned and operated distribution centers in North America.

This milestone means at least 95 percent of the waste from Kontoor’s facilities will be diverted from landfills through recycling, composting and reuse.

Kontoor achieved zero-waste by prioritizing efficient use of materials and conservation of natural resources. Through standardized waste reporting across all facilities, the company said it “identified, shared and implemented opportunities for waste diversion improvement, while also developing advanced waste reduction initiatives across facilities.”

Cascadia Consulting Group, a Seattle-based consulting firm that works with organizations on zero-waste strategies and planning, aided Kontoor’s waste reduction and recycling efforts. As part of the zero-waste designation process, Cascadia collected data to help Kontoor distribution centers track and meet their waste reduction, reuse and recycling targets.

“Waste reduction and the responsible use of natural resources are key components to Kontoor’s sustainability efforts,” Randy Fortenberry, Kontoor Brands vice president, supply chain, said. “Reaching and maintaining a zero-waste designation at our North American distribution centers is an important milestone in our commitment to having a positive impact on the communities and environments in which we operate.”

The latest distribution center to earn the zero-waste distinction is in Mexico City. The North American distribution centers that have previously received and maintained their zero-waste designation include centers in Alabama, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma.

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Kontoor aims to reach a zero-waste designation for all distribution centers globally. The company also said it is committed to “further reducing waste in product design, operations at Kontoor-owned manufacturing facilities, retail stores and corporate offices.”

Newcomers are building sustainability into their business models, but heritage denim brands like Wrangler and Lee are creating their own impactful ways to reduce their environmental footprint.

In July, Lee joined Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s The Jeans Redesign, a set of guidelines that promote garment durability, material health, recyclability and traceability.

Kontoor was a key contributor in the development of foam-dyed denim. The dye technique fully replaces the traditional water vats and chemical baths of conventional indigo dyeing, reducing by 100 percent the amount of water required to turn raw denim into indigo blue. The process also reduces energy use and waste by more than 60 percent compared to the conventional denim dyeing process.

In June, Wrangler rolled out the first denim apparel dyed with foam in its Icons collection of modern heritage staples.