• Timberland's 2017 CSR report shows progress towards its five-year performance targets across three core pillars.
  • The brand – which is owned by US apparel giant VF Corp – says it is making "steady" progress towards its 2020 sustainability goals.
  • These include a 40% increase in the amount of its apparel cotton that comes from organic, US-origin or Better Cotton Initiative-certified sources.
"Were proud to celebrate the progress weve made in the past year, especially our efforts to incorporate more sustainable cotton in our apparel," said Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland

"We're proud to celebrate the progress we've made in the past year, especially our efforts to incorporate more sustainable cotton in our apparel," said Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland

Outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland says it is making "steady" progress towards its 2020 sustainability goals, particularly in its bid to incorporate more sustainable cotton into its apparel.

The company's just-released 2017 corporate social responsibility report shows the latest results towards its five-year performance targets across three core CSR pillars – product, outdoors and community.

Among the highlights include a 40% increase in the amount of its apparel cotton that comes from organic, US-origin or Better Cotton Initiative-certified sources during the year, taking the overall total to 81%. The brand is working towards achieving 100% by 2020.

During 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 components of footwear (e.g., uppers, linings, soles), the company is no longer including minor components in its reporting. As such, materials with at least 10% ROR content were used in 67% of all Timberland footwear shipped in 2017.

It remains confident it will reach its 2020 goal for 100% of footwear to include at least one significant component containing ROR content, even with the more stringent requirements, and believes this change in reporting will lead to increased overall usage of ROR content across the business.

Meanwhile, Timberland also continued to increase its use of recycled PET, incorporating over 890,232 pounds of recycled PET into its footwear in 2017, or the equivalent of 40m plastic bottles. This reflects an increase of 3m plastic bottles over 2016.

Last year, the brand set a new commitment to eliminate per-fluorinated compounds (PFCs) completely from durable water repellants (DWR) used in its products by 2020. While significant efforts have been made over the past several years to eliminate PFC-based DWR treatments from its top volume waterproof footwear leathers, Timberland says it is actively seeking non-PFC chemical innovations for its remaining footwear products but warns the challenge is in ensuring that such alternatives can deliver the required performance attributes.  For 2017, the company reported that 91% of its footwear DWRs were non-PFC.

"We're proud to celebrate the progress we've made in the past year, especially our efforts to incorporate more sustainable cotton in our apparel," says Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland. "But at Timberland we have a commitment to sustainability and responsibility that goes well beyond the products we make. That's what makes us Earthkeepers. In our view, responsibility also means protecting and enhancing the outdoors, and the communities around the world where we live, work and explore."

Timberland sourced from a total of 488 factories in 2017, up from 472 in 2016. It added working hours were cited in 36% of the 410 audits conducted by VF Compliance in 2017, up from 30% in 2016. Timberland defines this issue as anything over 60 hours per week, or working more than 6 days consecutively.

Minimum wage issues, meanwhile, were cited in 4% of audits conducted (flat on 4% in 2016), primarily a result of the complex structure of the minimum wage in India, said Timberland.

The company also began auditing Tier 2 suppliers (textile mills, outsole factories, and tanneries) for life safety issues in 2017. Life safety audits cover legal business practices, child labor, forced labor, health and safety, monitoring and compliance, worker residence and environment.

"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," said the company. "For this reason, we disclose our factories on a quarterly basis.

"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."

Click here for the most recent factory list.