The latest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report from Carter’s Inc., one of the largest branded marketers in North America of apparel for babies and young children, details the company’s plans for upping its use of sustainable materials.
The report also highlights Carter’s approach to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues facing the retail industry, the planet and communities. The company said the 2021 CSR report demonstrates its dedication to supporting all families with young children through three key priorities: people, planet and product.
“As the leading company serving families with young children, Carter’s seeks to inspire generations raising the future and we continue to make important advancements to further our progress surrounding our sustainability, community and environmental objectives,” said Antonio Robinson, senior vice president of CSR at Carter’s. “Our annual CSR report serves as a benchmark while reaffirming our continued commitment to driving our business forward, enhancing our community impact and reducing our environmental footprint.”
In product, Carter’s continues to foster expansion of its sustainable product offerings, including prioritizing the growth of its eco-friendly Little Planet brand to be a leading sustainable children’s brand. In 2021, the Little Planet brand also introduced products made from recycled polyester products.
Carter’s primary fabrics for apparel are cotton and polyester, and the retailer said in the report that it has committed to securing those from sustainable sources by 2030. It defines a sustainable fiber or material as one with better environmental outcomes and impacts when compared to those made under conventional production.
Robinson told Sourcing Journal that the near-term focus is on Better Cotton and GOTS-certified cotton and the company has expanded its network of vendors to source GOTS-certified cotton for its apparel.
“We began using Better Cotton in 2021 and are on track to procure 10 percent of 2022 consumption as Better Cotton,” Robinson said. “While we continue to participate in Better Cotton to provide benefits to farmers as well as to the environment, we are also exploring other initiatives to ensure we meet our 2030 goals.”
The CSR report noted that as a significant user of cotton, Carter’s believes it is important that this fiber is produced in ways that support positive environmental, social and economic outcomes where reasonably possible.
“More than 2.7 million cotton farmers globally have benefited from Better Cotton field training,” it said. “Better Cotton methods provide benefits to farmers, as well as to the environment, with participating farmers able to use fewer pesticides and less water while seeing higher yields and profits.”
The company said one way to ensure high quality is by evaluating and committing to third-party certifications. The company uses the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification label, which it anticipates will appear on much its 0-24 months baby apparel and sleepwear by the end of 2022.
By the end of 2023, the plan is for Carter’s and OshKosh playwear products and most apparel to be Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified.
The CSR reported cites Little Planet as the Carter’s brand that leads the way in sustainable innovation, helping the company develop practices from which other brands can learn. It includes mostly organic cotton, certified by GOTS, a global textile processing standard for organic fibers, making the brand already largely compliant with the 2030 sustainable cotton goal.
Launched in 2021, Little Planet includes a wide assortment of baby apparel and accessories, sleepwear and gift bundles. In 2022, the brand introduced sustainable products in several new categories, including swimwear, sheets and wearable blankets made with sustainable materials.
“Currently, we leverage GOTS exclusively for our Little Planet brand and we are committed to continuing to grow Little Planet to become the most sustainable children’s clothing brand,” Robinson said.
The company said as it evolves its fiber portfolio strategy for directly sourced apparel, it will be transitioning away from conventionally produced fibers and assessing opportunities to increase use of qualified sustainable fibers, such as verified recycled polyester, such as Repreve that meet the Global Recycling Standard, and ones that have substantiated reduced environmental impacts, including Lenzing Ecovero.
“While we have used Repreve for our SkipHop brand, the recycled polyester materials in Little Planet that are sourced by Carter’s are made from materials that are verified to meet the ISO definition of recycled,” Robinson said. “Both pre-consumer and post-consumer material is accepted. We are in the process of laying out our roadmap to meet our 2030 objective and will continue to evaluate branded fibers, as well as various third-party certification schemes of recycled input and chain of custody.”
“As we evolve our fiber portfolio strategy for our directly sourced apparel, we will be transitioning away from conventionally produced fibers and assessing opportunities to increase our use of qualified sustainable fibers, including sourcing substantiated reduced environmental impacts such as Lenzing Ecovero, which we will be launching this fall,” he added.
Carter’s also launched a recycled e-commerce poly bag for Little Planet in 2021 that reduces use of virgin plastic and has since been adopted for use by all Carter’s brands. Last year, the company also introduced a cardboard hanger to reduce its plastic consumption. This year, Little Planet is piloting a hybrid hanger from Sourcing Solutions International made of recycled cardboard with a recycled plastic hook that contains substantially less plastic than hangers utilized throughout the industry.
In people, Carter’s said in 2021, it positively impacted 2 million children and families, investing $10 million in community initiatives. The company has pledged to improve the well-being of at least 10 million families by 2030.
In addition to nearly doubling racial and ethnic diversity at the vice president levels, Carter’s has committed to developing a supplier diversity program to support communities of color.
For planet, the company is focused on reducing environmental impact, improving sustainability practices and the pledging to achieve Net-Zero emissions by 2040.
In the near term, Carter’s has received validation for science-based reduction targets that include committing to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 50 percent by 2030 from a 2019 base year. As part of this goal, Carter’s will also engage suppliers covering 77 percent of spend for purchased goods and services to set science-based targets of their own by 2027.
Carter’s Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, owns the Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh brands, which are sold in department stores, national chains and specialty retailers domestically and internationally. They are also sold through nearly 1,000 company-operated stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico and online at carters.com, oshkosh.com, cartersoshkosh.ca and carters.com.mx.