The San Francisco-based company says it has committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources

The San Francisco-based company says it has committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources

US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc is stepping up its commitment to sustainability with a pledge to use more sustainable fibres in the production of its namesake and Athleta brand apparel within the next five years.

The San Francisco-based company says it has committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources, and has unveiled a series of sustainability goals for its athleticwear brand Athleta, including a bid to produce 80% of the brand's apparel materials with sustainable fibres by 2020.

"We believe in actively protecting the planet we all share," says Gap's chief product officer Wendi Goldman, who serves on both the Gap Foundation board of trustees and the company's Sustainability Board. "With our new sustainable cotton goal, we have the opportunity to make a big impact on the global cotton community, and bring to light what's so incredibly important to the future of garment manufacturing, what matters to us as a brand, and what matters to our customers."

To achieve its new cotton goal, Gap will continue to partner with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) after sourcing 3.8m pounds of Better Cotton for its spring 2017 product. Collectively since 2016, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta have sourced more than 11.5m pounds of Better Cotton – enough to make 7.4m pairs of jeans.

Gap's new commitment, part of the brand's Gap for Good platform for more sustainable fashion, will also include the use of other sustainable cotton such as organic, recycled and US-grown.

Meanwhile, the retailer is also taking action as a global retailer to reduce its environmental footprint across its supply chain. By the end of 2020, Gap aims to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its owned and operated facilities globally by 50% from a 2015 baseline, and to divert 80% of its waste in the US. Since 2014, Gap's suppliers have saved more than 750m litres of water, enough to provide every person in the US with one days' worth of drinking water.

Athleta brand, whose assortment predominantly features technical fabrics, will partner with fibre and manufacturing suppliers on innovative solutions in a bid to meet its new 2020 goal.

"For Athleta and our community, the Earth is our playground, and we believe it's vitally important to protect it for the next generation," explains Nancy Green, president and CEO of Athleta. "With the use of more recycled and sustainable fibres, we're working to lessen our impact on the environment and preserve the Earth's precious natural resources. Using our business for good is central to the mission of Athleta."

In 2016, the brand helped divert 7m plastic water bottles from landfill as a result of its use of recycled polyester.

Athleta's expanded sustainability commitment also includes setting goals to use more efficient fabric dyeing and finishing techniques to save water; to help empower the women who make its clothes; and also reduce waste at the brand's stores and HQ operations.

Earlier this year, the brand revealed it would launch an assortment of styles made in a Sri Lankan textile factory and certified by Fair Trade USA, an organisation dedicated to creating social and economic opportunities for factory workers around the world.

Athleta to launch Fair Trade styles made in Sri Lanka