This year, the world’s largest zipper manufacturer achieved a 20 percent reduction in Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions) and a 36 percent reduction in Scope 3 (emissions from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization) from a 2018 baseline. Its greenhouse gas emissions were reduced in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target, as certified by the United Nations’ Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
YKK made these achievements by updating its production facilities with more efficient equipment, and plans to continue this success in fiscal 2021 with the introduction of solar power generation in China.
The reductions are outlined in a 52-page report detailing the company’s accomplishments under its YKK Sustainable Vision 2050 initiative, which the company unveiled in October 2020 to serve as a roadmap for how it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The initiative strives to achieve the “Cycle of Goodness,” which underscores YKK founder Tadao Yoshida’s philosophy that “no one prospers without rendering benefit to others.”
The initiative presents sustainability targets according to five themes—climate change, material resources, water resources, chemical management and human rights—as well as 10 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Targets are also built upon the company’s prior environmental commitments and product collections like water-less dyeing processes and sustainable zippers.
According to YKK Corporation president Hiroaki Otani, the Covid-19 pandemic introduced a “new normal” that makes sustainability more important than ever.
“I believe it is essential that, now in particular, we achieve sustainable growth going forward by providing better value through superior products and technologies, contributing to the development of future generations, and prizing partnerships and coexisting in mutual prosperity with society,” he said in the report. “At YKK, our aim is to serve the social good and make ourselves valued for our ongoing contributions to society.”
Other accomplishments came in the form of chemical management, as YKK was able to strengthen its in-house standards and ensure 792 of its suppliers were in compliance. It also completed its renewal of Oeko-Tex certification for YKK products at 40 companies, and expanded its AcroPlating technology, which eliminates the harmful chemicals used in traditional electroplating. Moving forward, the company will use the technology to make new products. The company also conducted its YKK Global Criteria of Compliance audit—a comprehensive standard based upon YKK’s values and the ISO26000 guidelines—at all major manufacturing facilities to ensure its workplaces are safe for employees.
YKK also reduced landfill waste by 2,700 tons and slashed water intake by 18 percent since last year while increasing production recycling to 82.3 percent. It increased sales of its Natulon recycled zippers by 88 percent since last year, signaling a larger adoption of one of the company’s most sustainable trims. Made from PET bottles, old fiber and other polyester remnants, Natulon zippers are a solution to plastic’s waste problem: YKK reports that 10,000 Natulon zippers of approximately 23 inches in length give new life to 3,600 recycled plastic bottles. The company began producing the zipper at its Macon, Ga. manufacturing facility in 2019, which helped it further reduce the environmental impact from sourcing product overseas.
But there’s still more work to be done. The YKK Sustainable Vision 2050 initiative includes other targets, including a waste recycling rate of 90 percent, completely eliminating coal from production and a 100 percent shift to sustainable textile materials by 2030, to name a few.
According to Otani, the company is committed to lowering its impact on the environment and will continuously “make further progress toward the corporate vision set forth in the YKK Sustainability Vision 2050: to be a company that coexists and co-prospers with society and with the most important stakeholder of all, the natural environment.”