Timberland has pledged to transition to 100 percent organic, U.S.-grown, or Better Cotton Initiative-certified cotton by 2020, according to a fresh slate of sustainability commitments unveiled by the outdoor-lifestyle brand on Wednesday. Other four-year goals for Timberland’s Environmental Product Standards include phasing out PVC and perfluorinated chemicals from all its apparel and shoes, sourcing leather only from eco-friendlier tanneries rated Gold or Silver by the Leather Working Group, and ensuring that 100 percent of its footwear includes some element of recycled, organic, or renewable content.
“Building on the legacy of our Earthkeepers collection, we’re taking our commitment to making products responsibly to new heights,” Stewart Whitney, president of Timberland, said in a statement. “With TEPS, we are setting environmental targets for all product categories, not just one collection. With this increased focus, we aim to reduce the environmental impact of virtually every product we make—across footwear, apparel and accessories. Over time, as our business continues to grow, this has the power to make a big difference.”
Timberland doesn’t have far to go before it achieves some of its benchmarks. The company’s 2015 corporate social responsibility report, which it also released on Wednesday, noted that 84 percent of Timberland’s current footwear lineup includes at least one material that contains recycled, organic, or renewable content—up from 72 percent in 2014.
PVC elimination, Timberland added, is at 98 percent.
Less ideal is its use of organic cotton, which fell from 19 percent in 2014 to 18 percent in 2015, primarily “due to cost constraints,” the firm admitted.
In view of its 2020 target, however, Timberland says it has set “new strategies in place” to prioritize the use of more responsibly grown cotton.
But 2015 wasn’t without its highlights, either. Timberland says it incorporated 1 million pounds of recycled polyethylene, derived from post-consumer plastic bottles, into that year’s shoes alone.
The brand also included 843,000 pounds of recycled rubber—the equivalent of 10 semi trucks—in its outsoles., which have contained at least 34 percent of the stuff since 2009.
“At Timberland, we hold ourselves accountable for what goes into our products as well as how they’re made, and we’re constantly seeking innovative solutions to reduce their environmental impact,” said Colleen Vien, sustainability director for Timberland. “But it doesn’t stop with products. As an outdoor brand, we’ve always been willing to put a stake in the ground and push ourselves to protect and preserve the outdoors. We owe it to ourselves, to our consumers and to our planet.
Data related to its 2015 greenhouse-gas emissions and renewable energy usage, Timberland says, is being compiled and will be released with its Q2 report.