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How On Is Stacking Up on Brand’s ESG Goals

On provided a progress update on its sustainability and social initiatives on Monday in its second annual impact report.

A key highlight from On’s 2021 Impact Progress Report include increasing the company’s use of recycled materials. At the end of 2021, 53% of the polyester and 63% of the polyamide used was recycled, and 95% of the cotton used was organic, recycled or petrol-free, On said.

In June 2022, On joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). The company said that this move allows it to collaborate with like-minded brands, and to streamline requests to its suppliers using industry-common tools such as the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM). It has also teamed up with Carbios and other industry partners to accelerate the introduction of a new fiber-to-fiber technology for textiles.

What’s more, the Zurich-based athletic company said it met its goals to use 100% recycled, FSC-certified cardboard and 100% recycled HDPE in its apparel packaging by May 2021, and has further redesigned it to remove “unnecessary” items.

On also said in the report that it is on target to reach its goal to reduce its scope 3 carbon emissions by 55%, which account for 99% of its total impact, by 2030. The company plans to do this by replacing all the gas vehicles in its European fleet with electric models by 2030. Additionally, On Labs, the company’s new office in Zurich, is using 100% renewable electricity. On said that this contributes towards its goal of sourcing 80% of the energy for its offices and stores from renewable sources by the end of 2022.

“We envision a future where every On product is fossil-free, and is returned to us so that the materials can be reused, recycled or repurposed,” Caspar Coppetti, co-founder and executive co-chairman of On, said in a statement. “We have made it our environmental mission to make high-performance products with the lowest possible footprint, that are also engineered for circularity.”

On's Cloudvista sneaker in Glacier Black
On’s Cloudvista sneaker in Glacier Black.
CREDIT: Courtesy of On

Another major sustainability milestone came in June when the company delivered the first fully recyclable subscription-based running shoe to customers in the U.S. through its Cyclon program. The subscription includes a pair of the new Coudneo sneaker. Described by On as “the running shoe you will never own,” customers will receive a new pair of Cloudneo sneakers once the original pair becomes worn out. When they receive a new pair, they return the old shoes in the bag the new pair came in. The old shoes are collected at On’s supplier’s facilities and ground into pellets and is then compounded into new components to be used in shoe production.

“Our goal is to change the future of running shoes: to make returning old products the norm and dramatically reduce waste,” the company said in the report.

As for its social impact, On launched “Right to Run” in 2021, a program aimed at bringing together grassroots communities and organizations in the realms of safety, access, awareness, and inclusion, in running and movement. On is now partnering with 17 organizations globally and has reached 43,000 community members, aiming to reach 100,000 members by the end of 2022.

The company is also working on being more transparent within its ranks as it continues to grow and hire more staff. Since its last report, On has grown by more than 50% – from 744 team members in December 2020 to 1,158 in December 2021. In its North American team, On reported an 6.8% increase of the overall staff, and an 8.9% increase of its leadership in the region, were people of color.

The company has done this by partnering with Scope of Work, a talent development agency for young BIPOC creatives, as well as worked with Tidal Equity, a couching series focused on inclusivity in storytelling and content creation. On also noted that it joined the Stonewall Institute Diversity Champions Programme and built a partnership with GLAAD – both have provided training and resources on accelerating inclusion and increasing LGBTQ+ community representation.

“On social impact, we strive to make diversity and inclusion second nature; a habit infused in the way we live, which positively impacts the world around us,” Coppetti added.

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