Hanesbrands believes domestic raw material sourcing and nearshoring operations will help it reach its sustainability goals.
The owner of Hanes, Bali, Playtex and Champion last week published its latest environmental impact report showing that 70 percent of the cotton it sources is grown by U.S. farmers who use environmentally preferred practices. The North Carolina company said sourcing from U.S. cotton farms has helped it reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions output by 30 percent since 1980.
The raw material is spun into yarn in the U.S. before being sent to company-owned or controlled fabric mills in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, which largely use renewable solar and biomass energy sources. The materials are then cut and sewn into finished goods in Hanesbrands-owned factories in the region. The company said it has achieved 70 percent of its goal to transition to 100 percent sustainably grown cotton by 2030, having used about 180 million pounds of sustainable cotton last year.
Hanesbrands credits its value chain with its ability to achieve significant emissions reductions in recent years. It set science-based targets calling for a 50-percent reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, and a 30-percent reduction in Scope 3, by 2030. Since 2019, it has reduced its Scope 1 and Scope 2 output by nearly one-third. The company is also targeting the use of 100-percent renewable energy across its operations by 2030. Today, it has achieved 49 percent of its goal.
“Sustainability is integrated into everything we do—from our iconic brands to sourcing our materials to manufacturing our great products to operating our global distribution network,” CEO Stephen Bratspies said. “We have taken action to create and track our sustainability metrics, as well as align with environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks that help us advance our initiatives and better communicate our objectives and accomplishments.”
Waste management is another area of focus, especially regarding the company’s manufacturing facilities. The company is now diverting more than 98 million pounds of fabric scraps and discarded materials from landfills each year, accounting for 92 percent of its facility waste output, and nearly $2 million in annual revenue is generated from selling manufacturing waste to recyclers. “We’re committed to eliminating single-use plastics and the waste generated at our global facilities,” Bratspies said. “We’re reducing our energy, water and packaging use.”
Hanesbrands plans to completely phase out single-use plastics by 2025, he said. The remainder of plastic packaging products that can’t be eliminated must be compostable, or at least easily recyclable. From a 2019 baseline, Hanesbrands has slashed 34 percent of single-use plastics from its packaging programs by transitioning to recycled paper and cardboard options. It is also working to reduce overall packaging weight by 25 percent by 2025 by redeveloping those solutions, and has achieved 11 percent of its goal to-date. Partnerships with How2Recycle in the U.S. and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organization are helping the company better communicate recycling instructions to consumers.
Certain goals are still in their early stages. The report said that Hanesbrands aims to use 100-percent recycled or biodegradable polyester across its product lines by 2030, and while it has managed to incorporate about 750 million plastic bottles-worth of recycled content over the past five years, it has still only reached 16 percent of its goal. Meanwhile, the company has kickstarted efforts to manufacture reclaimed and recycled cotton by partnering with new yarn mills. To accelerate its progress, it has set a goal for each of its brands to launch at least one circular project or initiative over the next two years.
“We are proud of our longstanding history of ethical and responsible business practices and our ongoing commitment to ‘Do What’s Right’,” said Chris Fox, Hanesbrands chief sustainability officer. “Our commitment to sustainability goes back decades, and we look forward to continuing the hard work toward achieving our ambitious 2025 and 2030 sustainability goals.”