The North Face has announced a series of updates to its CSR agenda, such as using 100 percent recycled content for all of its polyester fabric by 2016.
The most significant updates focus on increased use of recycled content in apparel, an extended lifecycle for products through Clothes the Loop, a clothing take-back program, reduction in environmental impacts, and the launch of the Responsible Down Standard (RDS), a universal standard for improved animal welfare throughout the brand’s down supply chain.
As The North Face increases the amount of recycled plastic in its polyester fabric, the company says it will provide a market solution for a growing problem: used water and soda bottles. The company also is helping to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by reusing those materials already in existence. In addition, recycled polyester has a lower impact on air and water resources than virgin polyester. For example, the company’s Denali jacket is an example of a product with fleece made 100 percent from recycled content.
The Clothes the Loop program, launched as a pilot program in 2013, allows consumers to drop off unwanted clothing and footwear from any brand in any condition at participating The North Face retail stores. The deposited items are sent to a recycling center where they are carefully sorted based on over 400 categories. They are then repurposed for reuse to extend their life or recycled into raw materials for use in products like insulation, carpet padding, stuffing for toys, and fibers for new clothing. The North Face 2013 pilot in 10 stores lasted three and a half months and collected 1,350 pounds of clothing and footwear. It is now in 27 total stores.
The North Face also has engaged its suppliers in efforts to reduce chemicals, water, energy and waste in their mills, with savings equivalent to removing over 100 tanker trucks of chemicals, over 230 Olympic swimming pools of water and over 3,000 cars off the road since 2010.
The North Face created the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) to ensure that its down does not come from animals that have been subject to any unnecessary harm, such as force-feeding or live-plucking, and to provide a traceability system to validate the original source of down used in The North Face products. The RDS has been gifted to Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, for industry review and use. Certified down will be incorporated into The North Face's products starting in Fall 2015 with a goal of 100 percent certification by Fall 2017.