How VF Corp. Plans to Lead the Shoe Industry on Sustainability

As more and more consumers crave eco-friendly wares, companies like VF Corp. appear to be winning shoppers’ hard-earned dollars.

The Denver-based firm — named FN’s Company of the Year — has published today its latest report on corporate sustainability and responsibility. It outlined three areas of focus: establishing circular business models to reduce its environmental impact; leveraging its global scale to drive impact across the broader industry; and enabling VF and its brands to serve as a catalyst for sustainable movements.

“Our workforce of 50,000 performance-driven people share a commitment to be more than just an apparel and footwear company. We strive to be a purpose-led enterprise that leverages the strength of our business to deliver positive impacts for people and the planet we share,” said chairman, president and CEO Steve Rendle. “We’re proud of our progress but know there is so much more we can do.”

Among the highlights in its Made for Change report, VF noted that 50% of its distribution centers around the world are zero-waste facilities and 16 of its buildings are LEED-certified.

It has also committed that, by 2030, 100% of its top nine materials — accounting for roughly 90% of its materials-related carbon emissions — will come from regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable and recycled sources.

Further, VF underwent a two-year-long project with global consultancy The Carbon Trust to develop greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that are in line with meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“This work sends a strong signal to the apparel sector about the degree of transformation needed to truly address emissions across global supply and distribution chains and multiple brands,” said The Carbon Trust CEO Tom Delay. “The collaborative development process and focus on influencing others is what true corporate leadership looks like.”

The 120-year-old VF has already touted sustainability through its Timberland brand, which has been at the forefront of using recycled materials, gold-rated tanneries and leathers sourced from regenerative ranches. This year, the outdoor footwear label also built on its Nature Needs Heroes ad campaign, featuring six real people making a positive impact on the environment.

VF was also honored this week as the Company of the Year at the FN Achievement Awards for its mastery of a multipronged brand strategy built around self-expression, the outdoors and a greener future. The company’s stock is up 28% this year.

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