Having completed a comprehensive waste audit, we have set initial targets for waste reduction. By 2020, VF will reduce its waste to landfill by 40%. We will continue to evolve our efforts to realize our ambition to become a zero-waste business.
VF is aiming to implement recycling programs in each of its owned facilities.
Having completed a comprehensive waste audit, we have set initial targets for waste reduction. We are now implementing programs to reduce and repurpose waste – or, ideally, to avoid creating it in the first place. This includes a commitment to, when possible, purchase materials that can be recycled and are sourced responsibly – meaning they come from certified sustainable sources or include recycled materials.
We are working to apply sustainability purchasing standards across VF and our brands.
OUR WASTE FOOTPRINT
In early 2013, we completed a comprehensive global operational material and waste-generation baseline analysis. The analysis was compiled using information from our procurement teams, brands and more than 1,400 VF facilities around the world – including manufacturing plants, distribution centers, retail stores and showrooms. This baseline allowed us to begin establishing plans and goals for our global enterprise.
All VF associates play a part in achieving our waste reduction goals.
Our benchmarking highlights those areas that require increased priority and efforts. Among other findings, we have learned that:
VF produces more than 69,965 Mtons of waste annually (enough to fill roughly 6,000 garbage trucks). This includes 15,000 rolls (20,000 miles) of used adhesive packing tape, which is not recyclable.
Roughly 25 percent of our waste is compostable.
60 percent of our waste stream is diverted – a number we know we can, and must, increase. Recyclable paper, aluminum cans and plastic bottles are the most common items in our consumption waste stream. As a result, we have developed programs that will help our associates and facilities managers establish and maintain recycling systems for these and other items.
VF purchases more than 40 million sheets of office paper in the U.S. alone, and approximately 40 percent of the paper we purchase contains recycled content. In order to reduce our paper use and cut back on waste, we have standardized default double-sided printing and are piloting a print on-demand software that requires associates to be present at the printer to receive the copy. In Europe, 100 percent of the office paper used at our offices, showrooms and retail locations is FSC certified.
We purchase millions of shopping bags, hangers and boxes annually. While many brands already include recycled materials in their purchases, some of our vendor selection documents do not yet contain sustainability metrics. Although some criteria are included amongst several spend categories, we are working to implement sustainability purchasing criteria across the enterprise.
OUR WASTE GOALS
We aspire to recycle or compost everything at our facilities. This goal requires us to look both upstream – at the type and quantity of materials we purchase – and downstream for opportunities to reuse, repurpose or recycle.
Our roadmap to bring this approach to life includes:
100 percent of owned sites participate in composting by 2017
20 percent reduction in waste to landfill by 2015
40 percent reduction in waste to landfill by 2020
A forest derived materials policy and environmental purchasing policy to be published by the early 2017
100 percent of sites participate in composting by 2017
30 percent recycled content in office paper, corrugate, shoeboxes, hangers and shopping bags by 2016
00 percent of paper and corrugate cardboard is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified by 2015
THE WAY FORWARD
Our baseline study also uncovered several themes that our waste reduction strategy will begin to address:
The challenge at retail: Most of our stores are located in shopping malls or centers where recycling is controlled by the landlord or developer, and thus options may be limited. We are partnering with the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) to collaboratively expand recycling opportunities in these shared environments.
Change can be difficult: Whether switching to reusable plates in our cafeterias or to double-sided printing (or not printing at all), implementing new practices requires changing individual and team behaviors. Such changes are difficult, but Green Teams across VF are beginning to shape and drive positive waste reduction behaviors through associate engagement initiatives.
Recycling is not consistent: Recycling differs across all cities and towns, so it is difficult to implement a consistent global effort. Everything must be customized. Each municipality accepts different materials, and in many locations, compost sources are difficult to find. Without a uniform definition of what can actually be recycled, it’s difficult to standardize policies that promote material recyclability globally.