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Major Brands Partner to Cultivate Regenerative Ag Supply Chains

Allbirds, icebreaker and Smartwool throw their weight behind the industry’s first regenerative wool platform; and The North Face and three other companies join Indigo Ag’s program to incentivize farmers to shift to regenerative practices.

New Zealand Merino Company launches apparel industry's first 100% regenerative wool platform

Image credit: Allbirds/Facebook

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and global Merino wool apparel and footwear brands Allbirdsicebreaker and Smartwool have joined forces with 167 sheep growers to create the world's first regenerative wool platform — representing 2.4 million acres in New Zealand.

Regenerative farming practices represent a considerable opportunity to sequester carbon and slow climate change. Building on the success of NZM's ethical wool platform, ZQ; the new ZQRX Index includes the foundational tenants of ZQ — such as animal welfare and social responsibility; as well as an increased focus on environmental issues that directly reduce carbon emission and improve biodiversity, such as waste, water quality and soil health. The ZQRX index is currently being applied to 167 farms in New Zealand, representing over two million acres of land.

"We are on a journey of continuous improvement that recognises and celebrates progress over perfection; [and] we know on-farm emissions represent approximately 60 percent of the emissions associated with woolen products and are our biggest opportunity to lower our impacts," says NZM CEO John Brakenridge. "The ZQRX index addresses the health of the ecosystem and farming communities, rewarding growers who are committed to regenerative agricultural practices. ZQRX is the start of a global movement toward brands, businesses and growers working together to address critical global issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. We dream of a day when all wool is farmed with regenerative practices."

The business case for regenerative strategies

Join us as representatives from AT&T, the Climate 4.0 Project, ERM, CSR Lab, Optoro and Porter Novelli present a host of ways that sustainability champions can engage the C-suite on programs or strategies that will benefit the environment and/or society as well as the company — October 18 at SB'21 San Diego.

To generate a movement of this scale, three of the Merino wool industry's biggest brands — Allbirds, icebreaker and Smartwool — have formed a pre-competitive collaboration to support the ZQRX platform and address the immediate challenges of climate change.

"As we've seen through 2020, swift sea-change can only be achieved through collective action; together, competitors have enough influence to right the ship when it comes to the universal threat of climate change," says Allbirds' co-founder Tim Brown. “With ZQRX, we are backing a movement towards a truly regenerative future, one that prioritizes the planet and supports our unwavering pursuit to make better things in a better way.”

icebreaker and Smartwool helped found the original ZQ platform 13 years ago; while Allbirds, which also sources ZQ ethical wool, will be the first fashion brand to label every item produced with its carbon footprint. Combined, the three brands represent approximately 2 million kgs of wool.

Learn more about the New Zealand Merino Company and the ZQRX platform here.


4 new brands join effort to support farmers addressing climate change with Indigo Carbon

Image credit: Karynne Grabovski

Meanwhile, Indigo Agriculture has announced additional multi-year commitments from a variety of industries to purchase verified agricultural carbon credits through its Indigo Carbon™ program.

Outdoor apparel giant The North Face will provide Indigo partner farmers with a premium for regeneratively grown cotton and is incentivizing new (additional) practice adoption. Representing food and beverage are Canada’s Maple Leaf Foods and North Carolina small-batch brewer Epiphany Craft Malt, which will purchase verified agricultural carbon credits to further their sustainability objectives. And Cool Effect — a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that provides individuals the opportunity to support carbon emissions reductions by funding carbon-reducing projects around the world — will offer Indigo Carbon credits to buyers on its platform.

In 2019, Indigo Ag launched The Terraton Initiative™ and Indigo Carbon — a market providing growers with the financial incentive to implement regenerative farming practices — to accelerate carbon sequestration at an unprecedented scale. Now, these four companies join a growing cohort of private industry leaders spurring Indigo’s global effort to leverage agriculture as a meaningful solution to climate change.

“Agriculture holds significant promise as a means for addressing climate change; and these partners are supporting the change we need to unlock the industry's potential to benefit people and the planet,” said Ben Allen, Head of Global Market Development at Indigo. “With the purchase of Indigo Carbon credits, companies directly support farmers' climate-smart efforts to make beneficial farming practices the norm, not the exception. I’m incredibly proud to count this new crop of companies among our partners, whose investment and collaboration demonstrate a new era of public-private partnership for good.”

With an inaugural credit purchase price of $20/tonne of carbon dioxide equivalents sequestered and abated, Indigo Carbon allows companies to directly finance growers’ transitions to cultivation practices that improve their soil health, profitability and the environment at large. Representing a new income stream for farmers, the credits establish an outcomes-based mechanism to accelerate the adoption of agronomic methods proven to reduce on-farm emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

As private companies increasingly seek out rigorous, science-based strategies for addressing the environmental impact of their operations, verified offsets have emerged as a key tool for facilitating impactful and cost-effective abatement and removal. Indigo Carbon presents the first agricultural carbon-credit project to deploy scalable, registry-approved methodologies for monitoring and quantifying net on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and removals. As the first project developer to adopt and operationalize these protocols, Indigo Carbon enables companies to turn to agriculture — a largely untapped strategy for achieving environmental targets — with offsets that adhere to the highest industry standards for measurement, reporting and verification.

“As the first apparel brand to partner with Indigo, we are excited about the positive environmental impacts regenerative cotton production can have — not only for The North Face products, but for our industry as a whole,” said Carol Shu, Senior Manager of Global Sustainability at The North Face. “Regenerative products have the ability to shift the industry from simply ‘doing less harm’ to actually replenishing or having a positive impact on nature and resources; and as a brand that is committed to protecting the outdoor places we love to play, we believe this is another critical step in addressing climate change impacts in our supply chain.”

With its commitment to making its cotton — and eventually all of its raw materials — regenerative, The North Face is following in the steps of fellow VF Corp-owned brand Timberland’s pursuit of regenerative leather. The North Face has announced plans for a regenerative cotton collection for fall 2022, although details are still in the works.

The introduction of these new buyers expands on previously announced corporate purchase commitments from companies across diverse sectors including financial services (Barclays, JPMorgan Chase), food and beverage (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, New Belgium Brewing), technology (Givewith, IBM, Shopify), and professional services (Boston Consulting Group).

Backed by strong private market demand and multi-year purchase agreements, a growing network of over a thousand farmers across 21 states, end-to-end and on-the-ground program support, and committed practice changes on over 2 million participating acres, Indigo Carbon is poised to issue its first credits and reward growers for “farming carbon” later this year.

Learn more about Indigo Carbon and opportunities to support farmers in adopting beneficial farming practices.

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