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From VF to Lenzing, Science Sets the Tone for Eco Goals

VF Corp.’s latest Made for Change Sustainability & Responsibility report includes new science-based targets (SBTs) and a fresh vision and approach for sustainable materials.

VF’s Made for Change report details the company’s ambitions for advancing environmental and social improvements across its business, portfolio of brands, global supply chain and communities worldwide.

“Our workforce of 50,000 performance-driven people share a commitment to be more than just an apparel and footwear company,” Steve Rendle, VF’s chairman, president and CEO, said.

“We strive to be a purpose-led enterprise that leverages the strength of our business to deliver positive impacts for people and the planet we share. We’re proud of our progress, but know there is so much more we can do,” Rendle said. “Our Made for Change strategy outlines our forward-looking priorities and provides us with a renewed focus to push ourselves harder and farther as we address some of our industry’s most challenging issues.”

VF’s Made for Change strategy focuses on three areas: circular business models, scale for good and movement makers.

Circular business models focus on commercializing operations to reduce VF’s environmental impact while creating new growth opportunities. Scale for Good is about leveraging the company’s global scale and influence to drive impact reduction across the business and broader industry, while Movement Makers enables VF and its brands to serve as a catalyst for powering movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and planet.

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VF also announced Thursday a new sustainable materials vision as part achieving its SBTs, as extraction, production and manufacturing of raw materials account for the largest portion of the company’s carbon emissions globally. It also commits to the improvement of worker livelihoods in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, China, Kenya and Lesotho through VF’s Worker and Community Development Program.

By 2030, VF commits that 100 percent of its top nine materials that account for approximately 90 percent of its materials-related carbon emissions will originate from regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable, or recycled sources.

Using tools such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Materials Sustainability Index and Life Cycle Analysis methodologies, VF is assessing its materials choices within these areas to identify the greatest opportunities for environmental impact reduction and to understand how accelerating against these choices will contribute to achieving its science-based targets.

The report also outlined the measurable progress the company has made in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Fifty percent of VF’s distribution centers around the world are zero-waste facilities and 16 of VF-owned buildings are LEED certified.

VF underwent an intensive, two-year long collaborative process to develop its new SBTs. The company partnered with global consultancy Carbon Trust to model data across its owned and operated facilities, as well as its entire operations from farm to store, and engaged with its entire value chain. VF gathered primary data from its 1,400 owned facilities, distribution centers and global logistics, as well as more than 100 Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, strengthening its ability to identify and implement reduction strategies.

VF’s science-based carbon emissions targets include a reduction of Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030 from a 2017 baseline year and a reduction of Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, from a 2017 baseline year focusing on farm-to-retail materials, sourcing operations and logistics.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) champions science-based target setting as a powerful way of boosting companies’ competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy.

A new report published Thursday by SBTi said 285 companies responsible for more than 752 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year from their operations have set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in line with what science says is required to avert dangerous climate change and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The report showed that by meeting their targets, these companies will reduce their emissions by 265 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, approximately equivalent to shutting down 68 coal-fired power plants. This represents a 35 percent reduction in companies’ emissions compared to their base year emissions.

Lenzing Fibers said Thursday that SBTi has scientifically validated its climate target, which the company said made it the first wood-based fiber producer to set a science-based target. A first milestone is set for 2030, when Lenzing plans to cut down on CO2 emissions per ton of product by 50 percent compared to a 2017 baseline. For 2050, Lenzing has announced a vision to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions.

“Using renewable raw material wood from sustainable forests and plantations that sequester carbon is a good thing. But we have to go further than that,” CEO Stefan Doboczky said. “At Lenzing, we look beyond fiber and wood and strive to develop and implement better and greener ways of production throughout the whole supply chain and also advocate this bold approach to our industry.”