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The North Face, Timberland, Vans Scaling Regenerative Supply Chains

Three of VF Corporation’s top outdoor apparel brands have committed to bold goals around circularity and scaling regenerative ag practices — including having all of their top materials be recycled, regenerative or renewable by 2025.

Timberland expands regenerative leather offerings, sets sights on regenerative rubber

Image credit: Savory Institute

Today, Timberland announces important advancements in its regenerative agriculture efforts, working toward a vision for all of Timberland® products to have a net-positive impact on nature by 2030.

There is too much carbon in the air and not enough in the ground — hence our impending climate crisis. Regenerative agriculture practices mimic nature, enabling the land to pull more carbon out of the atmosphere and efficiently store it in the ground, where it can rebuild the structure of the soil; leading to healthy, hydrated, fertile ground — and ultimately, net-positive impacts for the land and the farmers.

“At Timberland, we strive for a greener and more equitable future, and investing in regenerative agriculture is one of the most powerful levers we have to achieve this vision,” said Zack Angelini, senior manager of environmental stewardship for Timberland. “We are excited about the progress we’re making to source our top volume materials in a way that supports the farmers and ranchers working to reverse environmental degradation and create a world that is more abundant, more resilient and even more beautiful than it is today.”

Expanded regenerative leather footwear offerings

How to define and build a regenerative business

How can we start building truly regenerative systems? Download our new report, The Road to Regeneration, to understand the principles of regenerative business and learn how to put regeneration into practice.

In 2020, Timberland embarked on a partnership with the Savory Institute to help cultivate and scale a regenerative supply chain for leather; the new Greenstride™ Solar Wave EK+ Collection joins several Timberland styles now featuring Regenerative Leather. In addition to Regenerative Leather in the uppers, GreenStride™ comfort soles are made of 75 percent renewable materials (a combination of sugar cane and natural rubber from trees). EK+ signifies its inclusion in Timberland’s industry-leading Earthkeepers line of sustainable footwear.

Later this summer, the Timberland PRO® line for the skilled trades will introduce its first Regenerative Leather boot, the Gridworks EK+.

As Timberland rapidly expands its Regenerative Leather supply chain, the brand hopes to use its global scale and powerful sourcing arm to incentivize the transition of more farmers to regenerative ag practices across the world.

Building the world’s first regenerative rubber supply chain

In addition to expanding upon its growing Regenerative Leather footwear offerings, Timberland has forged a partnership with Terra Genesis International (TGI) in to build the world’s first regenerative rubber supply system for footwear, with plans to pilot a collection in 2023.

Along with parent company VF Corporation and sister brands Vans and The North Face, Timberland will work with TGI in Thailand to build the industry’s first regenerative rubber supply system.

Rubber is typically grown in a monoculture; which cultivates a single type of tree, degrades biodiversity and often uses chemicals or may involve exploitative labor practices. Monoculture rubber plantations are also a significant contributor to rainforest deforestation across Southeast Asia.

Regenerative rubber farming incorporates multiple tree species to mimic a natural forest ecosystem — revitalizing biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem services such as soil health, water cycling, carbon sequestration and the creation of favorable microclimates. This approach also provides a diversity of yields that farmers can rely on for multiple streams of income, leading to increased resiliency and long-lasting positive impacts for the community. By supporting “train the trainer” programs, Timberland and VF will help to scale local indigenous knowledge and transition more plantations in the region to regenerative systems.

“We are grateful that, through our partnership with Timberland and VF Corporation, we can move this vital regenerative process forward,” said TGI CEO Luke Smith. “While the transformation from rubber monocultures to regenerative farming on one farm is impressive; as the shift spreads wider, it is likely to have significant social, ecological and economic impacts in Thailand.”

Timberland plans to pilot its first Regenerative Rubber footwear in 2023. This supply system will eventually be open to brands across and outside the industry, aiming to significantly scale regenerative sourcing of rubber.

Learn more about Timberland’s efforts to scale regenerative ag supply chains, as well its social media campaign aimed at engaging consumers on the benefits of regenerative practices, here.


Vans commits to 100 percent regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable or recycled core materials by 2030

Image credit: Vans/Facebook

For its part, action sports brand Vans has also announced bold global sustainability commitments to environmental sustainability and responsibility that will be achieved by 2030. Vans’ goal is to move towards circular products and systems that use regenerative and recycled materials, designed to reduce waste and keep products in use and out of landfills.

Vans' purpose is to enable creative expression by encouraging the "Off the Wall" spirit that comes from expressing one's true self. As part of its commitment to inspire youth culture, Vans recognizes the urgency to move towards circular products and will deploy systems that design out waste — aimed at helping to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12 to ensure responsible consumption and production patterns.

"Enabling creative expression is central to Vans. As a purpose-driven company that is engrained in youth culture, we are leveraging our commitment to creativity to seek new solutions that reimagine the lifecycle of our products and protect the environment for future generations," said Kim Matsoukas, senior manager of Sustainability at Vans. "While there's more work for us to do — through our Vans family, partnerships with **PUR Projet**, Terra Genesis, and other leading environmental organizations — we're proud to accomplish these goals by 2030."

To achieve its sustainability vision by 2030, Vans' commitments include:

Top materials will be 100 percent regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable or recycled

By 2030, 100 percent of Vans' top materials — including rubber, cotton, leather and polyester — will be regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable or recycled. Additionally, the company has committed to a 43 percent carbon reduction by:

  • Reducing the average impact of top materials by 35 percent by 2025

  • Utilizing 50 percent recycled polyester by 2025

  • Sourcing 100 percent sustainably grown cotton by 2025

30 percent absolute carbon reduction

When combined with other programs like working with suppliers to implement renewable energy in our supply chain, the move to regenerative, recycled and responsibly sourced renewable materials will help Vans achieve its goal of a 30 percent absolute reduction of scope 3 carbon emissions from a 2017 baseline. This includes:

  • Piloting and scaling regenerative agriculture practices on farms and ranches that produce rubber, cotton, and leather for use in Vans products

  • Exploring bio-based alternatives with lower carbon footprints than traditional, petroleum-based synthetic materials

  • Converting virgin polyester used in its footwear, apparel and accessories to recycled sources

Eliminate all single-use plastic packaging

By 2025, Vans is committed to eliminating all single-use plastic packaging and reducing waste at every point of its business model. This includes:

  • No plastic shopping bags in its retail spaces by the end of 2021

  • Remaining packaging will be minimized, originated from sustainable sources and designed for recyclability

Renewable energy in 100 percent of owned and operated facilities by 2025

Vans is working toward converting all owned and operated facilities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Vans recognizes a collective effort and cross-collaboration across the entire Vans Family — from employees and partners, to athletes, ambassadors and consumers —when it comes to creating circularity. Vans looks forward to working with partners — including Terra Genesis, which will generate regenerative rubber; and Indigo Ag, which supplies cotton — to achieve their collective sustainability goals.


The North Face launches ‘Exploration Without Compromise’ commitments

Image credit: The North Face

Meanwhile, fellow VF brand The North Face has announced “Exploration without Compromise” — a new framework for its commitment to creating the best-performing products for exploration; leading with recycled, renewable and regenerative materials that leave an ever-smaller footprint on the planet.

To make this vision a reality, 100 percent of the top materials used for The North Face apparel will be recycled, regenerative or renewable by 2025. The company says focusing on how its products are made is an opportunity to create the largest environmental reduction for the brand — as more than half of its carbon footprint is generated from product creation.

The company’s product sustainability efforts fall into three areas:

Recycled

  • The North Face is actively transitioning all of its top synthetic apparel fabrics (polyester and nylon) to being 100 percent recycled, and it has already made great strides – by 2023, 100 percent of its polyester and 80 percent of its nylon fabrics will be made with recycled content. Reining in sourcing of these synthetic materials is important because material-related emissions for polyester represent 53 percent of TNF’s total material-related emissions, and material-related emissions for nylon represent 29 percent.

  • The company says it will also offer products made of recycled cotton, including scraps that might have gone to waste previously.

  • The company recently introduced additional 100 percent recycled gear options, such as Base Camp Voyager duffels.

Regenerative

  • TNF's first foray into regenerative fashion came started in 2017 with its Climate Beneficial™ line, the Cali Wool Collection. These wool products were produced in partnership with one of the few US sheep ranchers that practices carbon farming - regenerative agriculture techniques that draw down carbon dioxide and enrich the soil. Despite being a small, pilot program – the Cali Wool Collection was extremely successful and was a finalist for a World Changing Idea award two years in a row by Fast Company.

  • Now, TNF is scaling its regenerative efforts through our recently announced regenerative cotton partnership with Indigo Ag. The Indigo Ag and The North Face partnership is designed to help reward and drive the transition to farming practices that draw down carbon from the atmosphere and restore soil health. By rewarding growers implementing regenerative practices - through a premium on the sale of cotton and 3rd party verified agricultural carbon credits generated from additional practices adopted - the sourcing and payment for carbon sequestration and reduction results helps establish an incentive-based financing mechanism to spur the adoption of beneficial cultivation strategies.

  • This partnership with Indigo Ag allows The North Face to support US farmers in their efforts to implement beneficial farming practices, as well as send a demand signal to other growers that regenerative land management is critical to restoring the health of our soils.

  • The launch of regenerative products moves us beyond “doing less harm” to actually using raw materials that have a positive impact on nature and resources. This “nature-positive” model is the way of the future along with true circularity.

Circular

  • Keeping product out of landfills and in the hands of our customers has been part of The North Face DNA since its founding — in 1971, it became one of the first apparel companies to introduce a lifetime warranty program.

  • In 2018, the company introduced Renewed — its recommerce platform that repairs, refurbishes and cleans used or damaged garments so they are like new and available for resale. Previously, consumers were unable to send product to our Renewed partner, The Renewal Workshop, directly. This gives our community an opportunity to more directly engage in our circularity process.

  • In Fall 2022, The North Face will launch its own, fully circular apparel for the first time. Many brands have launched single collections, but TNF says it aims to scale circularity by converting franchise styles. Stay tuned for details!

To make it easier than ever for shoppers looking to easily identify its responsibly made products, The North Face has added the “Exploration Without Compromise” seal to its most sustainable products on thenorthface.com and in stores.

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