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Timberland Shines Light On Sustainability Goals’ Progress

In signing the charter, VF joins more than 40 fashion and apparel industry companies in the shared pursuit of net-zero emissions by 2050, among other specific targets. Under United Nations Climate Change, the Fashion Industry Charter was launched at the UN international climate negotiations (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018.

Timberland has come a long way since the launch of its iconic yellow boot in 1973. News that parent company VF Corporation had signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action prompted a closer look at the 2020 sustainability goals of the brand that straddles the outdoor/lifestyle/fashion sectors.

Last month, Timberland released its 2018 corporate social responsibility (CSR) report showing steady progress toward its 2020 sustainability goals in support of three key pillars: better product, a greener world and stronger communities. It has a long-standing commitment to tree planting and also announced it reached one of its key sustainability goals two years early – to plant ten million trees by 2020.

Highlights of Timberland’s progress include: 

Better Product

  • The company set a goal for 100% of the cotton used in its apparel to come from organic, U.S.-origin or Better Cotton Initiative-certified sources by 2020. In 2018, the brand achieved 75%, a slight decrease from 2017 (81%) due to the addition of a new sock licensee, which is phasing into Timberland’s requirements. For its own direct-sourced apparel, which accounts for more than 89% of all Timberland cotton sourced during the year, the brand climbed to 99%, almost reaching its 2020 goal.
  • It continued its work with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) in Haiti to bring cotton back as an export crop for the country. The SFA planted its first commercial crop in 30 years in August 2018 and Timberland has committed to purchase up to one-third of its global cotton supply from the SFA, once sufficient volume and price and quality requirements are achieved.
  • 69% of all its footwear shipped in 2018 contained major components (e.g. uppers, linings, outsoles) with at least 10% recycled, organic or renewable (ROR) content, up slightly from 67% last year. In pursuing its goal of 100% by 2020, it requires all new footwear styles to incorporate ROR materials and is re-visiting key carryover collections. 
  • In 2018, Timberland incorporated over 717,519 pounds of recycled PET – the brand’s largest source of ROR materials – into its footwear. To date, Timberland has given the equivalent of over 345 million plastic bottles new life in its shoes.
  • It sourced 99% of its footwear leather, and 96% of its leather overall (including apparel and accessories) from tanneries that are rated gold or silver by the Leather Working Group for environmental best practices. The brand’s goal is to achieve 100% by 2020.  
  • The brand reported relatively flat data versus 2017 for the use of VOCs in its footwear production (53 grams/pair in 2018 vs. 51 grams/pair in 2017), against a 2020 goal of 42 grams/pair. Timberland also held steady in its efforts to fully eliminate PVC from its products, coming in at 97% PVC-free for 2018, with a 2020 goal of 100%.

Greener World

  • Timberland planted a total of 285,887 trees in 2018, for a total of 10,275,707 to date and achieving its 2020 goal of ten million trees two years ahead of schedule and is now working to set aggressive new tree planting targets for its next reporting cycle. 
  • In addition to its own tree planting efforts, Timberland continues to partner with the SFA to bring cotton farming back to Haiti after a 30-year hiatus, while at the same time planting millions more trees through the innovative agroforestry model they developed together.
  • In 2018, Timberland continued its urban greening commitment around the world. In the USA, the brand teamed up with the Student Conservation Association to create or restore 73,000 square feet of green space in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. In Europe, Timberland supported 14 projects to create, maintain or restore urban green spaces, focused on increasing access for youth, through its My Play Green program. And in China, the brand planted more than 53,000 trees in the Horqin Desert, as part of an 18-year commitment to help fight the effects of deforestation and desertification in this region.  

Stronger Communities

  • In 2018, Timberland employees worldwide served 56,211 community service hours, a slight increase over 2017. 52% of Timberland employees served in the community at least once, up significantly from 42% in 2017. The company remains committed to create more opportunities and projects to engage employees at all of its locations to reach its goal of 80% engagement (at least one hour served per employee) by 2020.
  • Timberland’s manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic once again led the way with 15,411 hours.
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