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Vans sets new sustainability targets to reduce environmental impact

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Apr 20, 2021


courtesy of Vans

Action sports brand Vans is reaffirming its sustainable position with new goals to reduce its global environmental impact, including committing to making core materials 100 percent regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable or recycled by 2030.

The California-based brand, part of VF Corporation, said it was moving towards creating circular products and systems that use regenerative and recycled materials to reduce waste and keep products in use and out of landfills. The enhancement of its sustainability efforts includes aiding the United Nations in achieving the organisation’s Sustainable Development Goal 12 to ensure responsible consumption and production patterns.

Kim Matsoukas, senior manager of sustainability at Vans, said in a statement: “At Vans, we believe that sustainability starts with all of us, but can only be accomplished in partnership. Enabling creative expression is central to Vans. As a purpose-driven company that is engrained in youth culture, we are leveraging our commitment to creativity to seek new solutions that reimagine the lifecycle of our products and protect the environment for future generations.

“While there’s more work for us to do, through our Vans family, partnerships with PUR Projet, Terra Genesis, and other leading environmental organisations, we’re proud to accomplish these goals by 2030 as we look to create a brighter future for our environment, our communities, and our planet.”

Vans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030

To achieve its sustainability vision by 2030, Vans is committing to ensuring that 100 percent of its top materials, including rubber, cotton, leather, and polyester are regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable or recycled. This will be assisted through partnerships with Terra Genesis who generate regenerative rubber and Indigo Ag who supply cotton, added the brand.

Additionally, the company will commit to a 43 percent carbon reduction by reducing the average impact of its top materials by 35 percent by 2025, utilising 50 percent of recycled polyester by 2025 and sourcing 100 percent sustainably grown cotton by 2025.

On the brand’s website, Vans added: “Reimagining the materials we use in our products is essential to our sustainability. This means using responsibly sourced natural materials as well as finding creative ways to recycle and reuse synthetic materials back into our products. It also means exploring innovative solutions, such as natural alternatives to traditional synthetics or recycled natural materials.”

courtesy of Vans

Vans will also look to reduce its scope 3 carbon emissions from a 2017 baseline by 30 percent, which it said will be done by piloting and scaling regenerative, recycled and responsibly sourced materials covering 85 percent of the brand’s materials.

Such initiatives include using rubber, cotton, and leather sourced from farms and ranches practising regenerative agriculture, alongside exploring bio-based alternatives with lower carbon footprints than traditional petroleum-based synthetic materials. In addition, Vans will convert virgin polyester used in its footwear, apparel and accessories to recycled sources.

Vans announce new sustainable vision to be achieved by 2030

Vans is also looking to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging and reduce waste at “every point of its business model” by 2025. This will be achieved by removing all plastic shopping bags from its retail spaces by the end of 2021 and by minimising all remaining packaging, and ensuring that they all originate from sustainable sources and are recyclable.

The final pledge from the American company is to convert all owned and operated facilities to 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. In 2017, the company began this transition by installing a 1 MW solar array at its headquarters, achieving a LEED platinum certification, one of the highest standards for sustainable buildings in the world.

The footwear, accessories and apparel brand added that in Europe it is also partnering with Soles4Souls, a non-profit organisation that creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the free distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Participating stores will allow customers to drop off unwanted pairs of shoes, which will then be given a new lease of life via their dedicated programme to help entrepreneurs build small businesses through the sales of the donated shoes, with the ultimate goal to break the cycle of poverty. ​