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January 18, 2022

Gildan Activewear rolls out sustainability strategy

Canadian apparel manufacturer Gildan Activewear has rolled out a series of sustainability goals including investment in water reduction and heightened focus on circularity as part of its ESG strategy and future goals.

By Hannah Abdulla

The new strategy from Gildan seeks to tackle global environmental and social priorities aimed at improving the lives of people who make Gildan garments, further protecting the environment, empowering neighbouring communities, and increasing the sustainability of products delivered to customers worldwide.

The Gildan next-generation ESG strategy  is a commitment to making meaningful advancements by 2030 in the following areas:

Climate, energy, and water

Gildan commits to continuing its fight against climate change by paving the way towards a low carbon future, with a goal of reducing its Scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030, aligned with the SBTi and the level of decarbonisation required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Gildan also commits to addressing water-related risks linked to climate change. As such, the Montreal-based company plans to further invest in water efficiency and implement additional water-reducing, reusing, and recycling options in its operations with the goal to attain a 20% reduction in water withdrawal from nature by 2030.

Circularity

Gildan intends to source more sustainable and transparent raw materials and enhance sustainable waste management initiatives. This includes sourcing 100% sustainable cotton by 2025 and 30% recycled polyester or alternative fibres and/or yarns by 2027. The company also plans to achieve zero manufacturing waste by 2027 and to use 75% recycled or sustainable packaging and trim materials by 2027.

Human capital management

Gildan will push health and safety performance to new standards by working to improve employee safety and reducing workplace risks across its operations. To achieve this, Gildan plans to attain the ISO 45001 certification at all its company-owned and operated facilities by 2028. By 2027 it plans to achieve gender parity for roles at the director level and above.

Long-term value creation

Gildan intends to incrementally increase the allocation of capital towards purposeful and value-driven projects in regions where the Company operates and to gradually reach a contribution of 1% of its pre-tax earnings by 2026.

Transparency and disclosure

Gildan commits to further enhancing and strengthening its ESG disclosure across its areas of focus, effectively allowing stakeholders to make more informed ESG-focused decisions.

In 2022, Gildan is planning to further enhance alignment to the TCFD framework through a subsequent disclosure in a stand-alone report, which will detail Gildan’s climate-related governance, strategy, risk management and metrics, and targets.

“From our beginning, we have been re-imagining and building the future of responsible apparel manufacturing. This has made Gildan the company it is today; recognised for the apparel we make and how we make it,” said Glenn Chamandy, President and CEO of Gildan. “ESG has always been integrated into our business strategy and reflected in our market offering. This next-generation strategy will push us to deliver even stronger ESG performance and continue to reinforce Gildan as a leading ethical, sustainable, and efficient apparel company.”

Claudia Sandoval, vice-president of corporate citizenship at Gildan, added: “We are confident that this new strategy will propel our efforts to greater heights and allow us to become a stronger and more resilient company. While Gildan embarked on its ESG journey over two decades ago, we know that the path to sustainability is ongoing, which is why we will continue our journey forward to further strengthen our programs. We also know that it is not enough to set targets. Therefore, we are developing clear and credible roadmaps to address the challenges and opportunities we face to continue to make meaningful positive impacts, and we won’t be doing it alone. Our success depends on the collaboration of all key stakeholders, and we are excited to foster and leverage a global, collaborative approach to bring our goals to life.”

Last month, Gildan acquired Phoenix Sanford, LLC, the parent company of Frontier Yarns, for a total cash consideration of about US$168m.

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