When Stan Avery founded Avery Dennison in 1935, he set out to create a values-based business admired as much for its ethics and integrity as for its innovation. Eight decades later, the company still strives to adhere to its value-based mandate and is working to ensure that its employees and business partners know, understand and live up to its high ethical standards, according to Helen Sahi, senior director of Sustainability at Avery Dennison.
“Key to our progress has been treating sustainability not as something we do, but how we do everything,” Sahi told Sustainable Brands. “We’ve integrated sustainability into our underlying business strategy, from our people to our products to the communities we serve.”
After beating its initial sustainability goals set in 2010, Avery Dennison developed its 2025 sustainability goals after careful analysis of what is most important for its business and stakeholders. The goals focus on a variety of environmental and social areas — including chemicals, greenhouse gas emissions, waste, people and transparency, among others.
“It’s a strategy that sets a clear course for growth while responding to the realities of a warming world, scarcer raw materials and our stakeholders’ increasing expectations of transparency,” said Sahi. “And it’s a strategy that will continue our business for the next 80 plus years.”
Avery Dennison sits within the global supply chain, providing and selling products, materials, and solutions that encourage and promote sustainable business practices. That’s why Avery Dennison always is on the lookout to partner with retailers who share these values, said Sahi.
One such partnership was forged with Outerknown, a menswear company founded by surfer Kelly Slater, which incorporates upcycled materials such as ECONYL® — a nylon fabric created from reclaimed bottles and other nylon waste materials — into its fabrics. Now, using materials such as dissolvable paper, yarns from recycled bottles and Grand PE Polybags, Avery Dennison has created care labels and tags for Outerknown in an effort to further reduce the surfwear brand's environmental impact.
“It’s a partnership that started at the very beginning where two companies had a shared vision and purpose,” Sahi said. “Sustainability continues to be the lens through which both companies look, considering our people, our products and the planet.”
The woven labels are made from 100 percent recycled polyester yarn, and the dissolvable labels are made from harmless starches. Likewise, all printing is done with soy ink.
“The tags are protected in transit by polybags, which are made from a bio-based instead of petroleum-based resin — a more sustainable material than traditional polybags,” Sahi said. “We also put the products through fairly rigorous testing, including humidity testing, to ensure the products arrive at store as intended.”
So far, the partnership’s biggest payoff has been proving that sustainability — when consciously thought of as an integral part of the design process from the beginning — serves a function as well as helping to elevate a brand’s profile.
“It clearly aligns with Outerknown’s look and feel and looks beautiful, while delivering a great message to Outerknown’s customers,” said Sahi.
Avery Dennison also recently celebrated a milestone in its 15-year partnership with sports retailer Decathlon to help further reduce its environmental footprint with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. A technology once limited to tracking cattle, RFID tags are now tracking consumer products worldwide. Many manufacturers use the tags to monitor the location of each product they make from the time it's made until it's pulled off the shelf and tossed in a shopping cart.
As part of the partnership, Avery Dennison provides Decathlon with its RFID SmartFace® Technology. This technology increases efficiency in Decathlon’s manufacturing process by creating one sew-in label. It also reduces environmental impact by using Avery Dennison’s patented SmartFace® Technology, which results in a thinner and more flexible product, while removing the PET layers from the manufacturing process.