US retail giant JC Penney increased its effort to audit supplier factories in the last year and has surpassed its energy and greenhouse gas emissions goals.

JC Penney sources merchandise from around 2,600 domestic and foreign suppliers, and has become one of the most experienced importers of textile and apparel in the US. The company's social and environmental responsibility teams - located in buying and quality assurance offices globally - work with a third-party auditor to conduct compliance audits of factories producing its private brand apparel.

In fiscal years 2015 and 2016, the retailer's third-party provider conducted over 2,000 social audits, and, in 2016, this effort was extended to include textile mills, completing over 100 assessments to help improve mill conditions, according to the group's 2016 Sustainability Report.

In 2015, JC Penney set an aggressive energy and greenhouse gas emissions goal to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions per sq. ft. by 15% by 2020. Just two years into the journey and the retailer says it has surpassed this goal by reducing emissions 19.6% - a decrease driven largely by behaviour change and a company-wide energy management system utilised in nearly 840 stores.

As part of its ongoing energy management efforts, JC Penney has a long-standing partnership with the US Department of Energy's 'Energy Star' programme. Through this, the retailer has received Energy Star's Partner of the Year, Sustained Excellence designation for ten consecutive years.

The retailer has also made efforts to significantly reduce waste by recycling 85% of its annual domestic waste by 2020. In 2016, JC Penney increased its recycling rate to 80%, up 9% since 2014.

The company also recycled 74,000 tons of waste last year, while decreasing waste to landfill by 5,000 tons from 2014 to 2016. Furthermore, in 2015 and 2016, JC Penney recycled around 147,000 tons of waste, which equals around 80% of total waste from the company's operations.

In 2015, JC Penney adopted a goal to reduce total water consumption across US operations 5% by 2020, from a 2014 baseline. The company says it is making strong progress toward the goal through a combination of engineered solutions and behaviour change. As a result, JC Penney has reduced domestic (in-store) water consumption by 12% from 2012 to 2016, and reduced landscape irrigation during the same time period by 66%.