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December 21, 2021

Kontoor on track for 100% sustainable cotton by 2025

Jeans giant Kontoor Brands, owner of the Wrangler and Lee brands, sourced 50% of its cotton sustainably in 2020 but says there is more it can do to drive meaningful environmental and social advancements.

By Laura Husband

The second sustainability report published by Kontoor Brands outlines its sustainability achievements in 2020 based on Global Reporting Initiative standards (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards.

Kontoor Brands president, CEO and chair of the Kontoor Brands board explains in the introduction to the report: “While our targets for sustainability are new, we are committed to building on the progress to-date and recognise that we have much more to do.

“Sustainability is a core part of our DNA at Kontoor – a foundational element of how we do business around the world. While we are pleased with our initial progress outlined in the report, we recognise there is more that we can do. As we move ahead, we are committed to using our scale and purpose-led approach to drive meaningful environmental and social advancements for all of our stakeholders.”

The report reveals the progress the company is already making in terms of its sustainability agenda which is focused on people, product, and planet as well as how it is using a unique model of owned manufacturing operations to improve its water conservation efforts.

The report explains that Kontoor is aiming to not only set and meet its own ambitious goals, but also to apply lessons learned and best practices transparently so others can bring these innovations to life in their own manufacturing operations.

The report which is based on the year 2020 from 1 January to 31 December 2020 notes company highlights including being on track to achieve 100% sustainable cotton in all products by 2025.

Kontoor Brands sustainability achievements so far

  • The company explains that by deploying innovative water-saving and recycling technologies such as Indigood, it has reduced water consumption by over 8bn litres since 2008. The report says this puts the company on track to achieve its goal of saving 10bn litres of water by 2025.
  • For the company’s more than 120m units of apparel and accessories it produced in 2020, Kontoor’s teams sourced 50% of its cotton sustainably, which means the company is on track to achieve 100% sustainable cotton in all products by 2025.
  • In alignment with the company’s goal to exclusively working with factories that support worker wellbeing, Kontoor’s teams initiated community development programmes in select factories in Bangladesh to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and education to benefit 1,200 local workers.
  • Kontoor is also on track to use 100% preferred chemistry by 2025 and expects to announce a science-based climate target for greenhouse emissions next year (2022).

Other achievements so far include:

  • A 97% waste diversion rate at its distribution centres.
  • 4,955 metric tonnes of materials being recycled at its distribution centres and internal manufacturing.
  • 4,700 acres conserved through the company’s Alcoa Land Project, along the Yadkin-Pee Dee River in North Carolina, US.
  • Over half (56%) of Lee Europe products being rated ‘low impact’ using the Jeanologia Environmental Impact Measurement (EIM) tool.

The report explains that Kontoor Brands’ initiatives take place throughout the production chain and are focused on circularity and diverting materials from landfills to partnering with Business for Social Responsibility’s HERproject to improve access to healthcare knowledge and services for garment workers in Bangladesh.

“Sustainability is core part of our DNA at Kontoor – a foundational element of how we do business around the world,” says CEO Scott Baxter. “While we are pleased with our initial progress outlined in the report, we recognize there is more that we can do. As we move ahead, we are committed to using our scale and purpose-led approach to drive meaningful environmental and social advancements for all of our stakeholders.”

Jeff Frye, vice president of procurement, product development, innovation, and sustainability at Kontoor Brands, adds: “Although our industry faced substantial uncertainty over the last two years, we have used this time to strengthen our resolve to meet our goals and set new ones – for our people, products and the planet.

We’re incredibly proud of the progress we have made during this period and have rallied as a team and continue to focus on building a more resilient future.”

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