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Allbirds ‘Flight Plan’ Cuts Carbon Footprint 12%

Allbirds wants to be “near zero” by 2030.

The Lindsay Lohan-approved B Corp known for its merino wool-based footwear released its annual Sustainability Report, outlining progress of its “Flight Plan” first unveiled in July 2021.  

As part of the commitment to cutting its per product carbon footprint in half by the end of 2025, the Bay Area brand already cut 1.21 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) since 2020, a 12 percent reduction.

Most of that progress came from more responsible use of energy (98 percent), with some help from renewable materials (2 percent).

By 2025, Allbirds anticipates taking its CO2e down to 5.50 kg, down from 2021’s 8.76 kg. When accounting for emissions from corporate operations, including retail stores, offices and employee travel, it’s working to halve it carbon footprint from approximately 14 kgs of CO2e to 7 kgs of CO2e.

“Anyone can announce big goals or make big donations – it’s one thing to commit to zero carbon emissions and quite another to make the necessary reductions year over year. Real leadership looks like hundreds of small decisions every day that add up to something big over time,” said Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at Allbirds. “We have a specific, actionable plan to cut our per product carbon footprint in half by 2025 and drive it to near zero by 2030, and we want you to hold us accountable every step of the way.”

The material innovator highlighted key wins across a spectrum of categories, including regenerative agriculture, renewable materials and responsible energy, all of which have contributed to the carbon footprint reduction.

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“Our deepest pursuit is to deliver better products in a better way, and that means bringing our carbon footprint to near zero. These reductions happen as a result of the tireless efforts of our entire team pushing to develop products that deliver on that style, performance and comfort our consumers expect,” said Allbirds co-founder and co-CEO Tim Brown, in a statement. “Measuring the carbon footprint of each product, and boldly printing it right there, is a tangible way consumers can join us in being aware and accountable of the carbon cost of our consumption.”

Allbirds debuted regenerative wool during the 2021 holiday season, launching a collection using wool from New Zealand’s Temple Peak. The carbon footprint of this line of regenerative beanies and scarves clocked in at 12 percent to 16 percent less than their non-regenerative counterparts.

The launch came after the DTC seller conducted a survey of Temple Peak Station, one of our wool farms in New Zealand. The report found that the farm sequestered 60,500 tonnes of CO2 over the last 40 years, resulting in a more than 40 percent reduction in its footprint.

Allbirds will release a full capsule collection of products made with regenerative wool for 2022 holiday.

The company also partnered with New Zealand Merino and other wool brands like Smartwool and Icebreaker to launch the ZQRx framework. To date, 499 farms representing 15 percent (2 million hectares) of New Zealand farmland, have signed up, committing to work with nature to continuously improve human, animal and environmental outcomes.

By 2025, Allbirds has a goal to source 100 percent of wool from regenerative sources, and reduce or sequester 100 percent of annual CO2e emissions from wool.

Allbirds also pointed to its renewably sourced and manufactured products including Tree Dasher 2 and Futurecraft.Footprint, the latter of which has been developed in partnership with Adidas.

Updates to the Tree Dasher included a 21 percent lighter midsole and the removal of wool eyelet lining, a combination that resulted in a 5 percent reduction to the second generation’s carbon footprint.

As for the Adidas collaboration, the Futurecraft.Footprint shoe’s carbon footprint clocked in at 2.94 kg CO2e, well below the 14.1 kg CO2e that a typical pair of running shoes.

Allbirds also invested $2 million in developing plant leather in partnership with material science startup Natural Fiber Welding, effectively creating a sustainable alternative leather. The 100 percent plastic-free, 100 percent vegan resource uses natural materials like rubber, plant oils and agricultural byproducts—such as rice hulls and citrus peels. It produces approximately 88 percent less carbon than traditional bovine leathers and approximately 75 percent less carbon than synthetic “pleather” alternatives.

Last month Allbirds used the plant leather to launch the Plant Pacer sneaker.

Also known for its eucalyptus tree fiber knit fabric and sugarcane-based EVA SweetFoam, Allbirds has more renewable materials goals for 2025. The San Francisco-based brand aims to reach 75 percent sustainably sourced natural or recycled materials, reduce carbon footprint of key raw materials by 25 percent, and cut raw materials use by 25 percent across footwear and apparel products.

Additionally, the label wants to double the lifetime of its footwear and apparel products.

On the responsible energy front, Allbirds increased its ocean shipping percentage from 80 percent to 84 percent of goods, which was a major milestone in a time when global logistics has been challenging.

“Our partners are meeting the moment. Our manufacturing partners across the globe are working to install on-site solar at their facilities,” the report said. “In the meantime, we’re purchasing renewable energy credits for manufacturing in Vietnam and the Americas.”

Allbirds does not own any of the factories that make its products, which means total energy use for the company is mostly driven by its suppliers.

The company also said in the report that it has updated its Responsible Sourcing audit framework to enable better visibility and data collection into Tier 1 manufacturers. Allbirds has also completed training with 100 percent of its Tier 1 manufacturers on the updated framework.

Despite more industry calls for supply chain traceability, putting this into practice remains complicated. Even as a brand with a “relatively contained” supply chain that prioritizes sourcing materials at the farm level, Allbirds admitted that tracing everything in a way that allows for full documentation remains challenging.

Another advancement of the “Flight Plan” includes the Allbirds ReRun resale program built in partnership with Trove. The marketplace of slightly imperfect and gently used products can give customers access to Allbirds products with a lower price tag, and a lower impact on the planet. Additionally, the brand is still redesigning its footwear packaging system to significantly reduce weight and, in doing so, its carbon footprint.