At the end of the second quarter, there were 423 factories actively producing for Timberland

At the end of the second quarter, there were 423 factories actively producing for Timberland

Outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland continues to progress towards its 2020 sustainability goals, with all of the cotton used by its global apparel production team in the second quarter responsibly-sourced.

During the period, Timberland apparel and accessories used 863 metric tonnes of cotton, 77% of which (664 metric tonnes) was either organic (32%), BCI-certified (37%) or US-origin (8%). The brand's global apparel production team, specifically, used 564 metric tonnes of cotton during the period, all of which was responsibly-sourced.

The company says it is also working with its accessories licensees who have historically struggled to find ways to incorporate responsible cotton into their products. 

And its new 2020 target is for 100% of the cotton used in its apparel, accessories and licensed goods to be sourced more sustainably than conventional cotton. This includes cotton that is certified organic, recycled or Fairtrade; of US origin; or sourced as Better Cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

The latest quarterly corporate social responsibility update shows progress on its five-year performance targets across three core CSR pillars – product, outdoors and community.


In 2017, the brand – owned by US apparel giant VF Corp – changed its method of reporting the use of material containing recycled, organic or renewable (ROR) content. From 2011 to 2016, all materials were reported, including those used in minor components such as webbings, trims and labels. To drive focus towards using ROR materials in more significant footwear components (such as uppers, linings, soles), the company is no longer including minor components in its reporting.

As such, significant materials with at least 10% ROR content were used in 69% of all Timberland footwear shipped in 2018, a slight improvement over the 2017 result.

Recycled PET continues to be the largest source of ROR materials in Timberland footwear, incorporating over 717,519 pounds – the equivalent of 32m plastic water bottles. To date, the brand has incorporated the equivalent of more than 345m plastic bottles into its footwear.

To further advance toward its 2020 goal for 100% of footwear to include at least one component containing 10% or more ROR content, "we have developed design policies that require ROR content in all new product development, and we will be revisiting carry-over styles to engineer in ROR where applicable," the brand says.

Timberland is also working to phase out the use of PVC in its products, with an end goal of being PVC-free by 2020.

"In 2018, 3% of Timberland footwear shipped contained PVC, which is even with our 2017 result. While not yet at 100% PVC-free, we are proud of the progress that we've made over the years to phase out PVC in our footwear," it adds.

Meanwhile, in terms of the materials used in its products, Timberland says its average use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) per pair of shoes was 48 grams during the first quarter, a "considerable decrease" over its first-quarter 2018 usage of 52 grams per pair.

It noted results for the second quarter are "not yet available" and will be reported in the third quarter.

"Our manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic continues to reduce their VOC usage and their best practices are being employed by other manufacturers as well," the company says. "One of our suppliers has incorporated water-based adhesives in several styles, and other methods of application are being used in place of the standard glue-pot technique. We remain committed to our goal of averaging 42 grams of VOCs per pair."

Meanwhile, there has also been a year-on-year rise in the overall volume of leather produced at tanneries with a Gold or Silver rating from the cross-brand Leather Working Group (LWG). LWG certification is awarded to tanneries that demonstrate environmental best practices and performance in all areas of leather production, from chemical, water and waste management to energy use and hide traceability.

During the second quarter, 96.2% of the group's overall leather volume used for Timberland footwear, apparel, accessories and licensed products was produced at tanneries that have a Gold or Silver LWG rating. The figure was up from 96% in the second quarter of the prior year.

When looking at leather used during the period for Timberland footwear only, 99.6% came from tanneries rated Gold or Silver. Timberland says it remains committed to limiting production at non-certified tanneries until they achieve Gold or Silver status.


At the end of the second quarter, there were 423 factories actively producing for Timberland. Broken down by business unit, this equates to 60 footwear factories, 151 apparel factories, 105 factories producing licensed goods and accessories, 31 tanneries, 62 fabric mills and component suppliers, and 14 independent distributor factories.

Of these, 198 (47%) were rated accepted, meaning there are no serious safety, health, or labour issues and the facility is certified to produce VF products for 12 months, while 224 (52.8%) were rated as developmental, meaning there are some minor safety, health, or labour issues. These factories are authorised to produce for VF while the issues identified are corrected in a timely manner and a follow-up audit is scheduled within 6-9 months. If the problems are corrected as required, then the status of the factory will be elevated to 'accepted.' If not, the factory is downgraded to 'pending rejection-180 days', at which time they have a final six months to satisfactorily resolve the outstanding issues or be downgraded.

One factory was rated as rejected during the period. 

Meanwhile, VF Compliance audited 124 Timberland factories during the first quarter. Of the factories audited, 56 (45%) were rated accepted, 58 (47%) were rated developmental, nine (7%) were rated pending rejection, and one (1%) was rated rejected. The factories rated pending rejection are working on their corrective action plans and will be re-audited within six months. Purchase orders with the rejected factory are on hold until the factory is re-audited and a favourable rating is attained, or production is relocated to another factory.

"Timberland believes, along with others in our industry, that factory disclosure and collaboration can create common standards and shared solutions – helping to advance global human rights in all our factories. For this reason, we disclose our factories on a quarterly basis. See the most recent factory list here. Although our supply chain sources may change from time to time, our quarterly factory disclosure represents our best attempt to disclose all of Timberland's active factories as of that date."

Timberland, along with other VF Corporation brands, recently published full supply chain transparency footprint maps on nine of its most iconic products. The source maps, available on VF's sustainability website, help ensure every step in the production of VF's apparel and footwear meets the corporation's standards of quality, sustainability and social responsibility – from raw material extraction to VF distribution centres.

The interactive maps display the number and locations of suppliers in a region and users can zoom in for a close-up look at each supplier, including onsite inspections, verifications, and associate interviews.

Meanwhile, 43 new factories were selected to produce for Timberland during the second quarter. Of these factories, 12 (28%) were rated accepted, 26 (60%) were rated developmental, and five (12%) were rated rejected. These five factories were given a corrective action plan (CAP) detailing the issues that led to their rejection. They can apply for re-audit after a minimum of three months and upon completion of their CAP. If a favourable rating is attained, they will be approved to produce for Timberland. If they receive a second rejection, they will not be permitted to apply for re-audit for 12 months