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Volcom Sustainability 2013 - 2016 Progress Report Update
In 2012 our parent company, Kering launched an ambitious set of environmental and social compliance 5-year targets for all its Luxury and Sport/Lifestyle brands, and with our own sustainability program still relatively young, we were excited to be part of a larger initiative that help would take our program to the next level. With a course set by Kering for robust and engrained sustainability, we then came to you, our extended Volcom family, with an outline of Volcom’s own commitments that took the targets Kering had set and added a few of our own. Looking back now, these were really a set of challenges to ourselves; challenges we knew, if achieved, would help further strengthen the budding program we were building. Nonetheless, we felt it was important to put these expectations out there to the press, the public, and you, thus holding ourselves accountable to what we were striving to achieve.
These commitments had a 2016 target date... we're proud of what we've achieved, but acknowledge there's a long way to go. Have a look at how we did and where we're going below.
Volcom's Sustainability Vision, as presented in April 2013:
- Adopt and Utilize the E P&L (Environmental Profit & Loss) Environmental Impact Management Tool
- Reduce Volcom's Carbon Emissions, Waste and Water Usage by 25%
- Eliminate PVC from Volcom Products
- Source Paper and Packaging Material from Recycled Sources and/or Certified Responsibly Managed Forests
- Increase the Amount of Sustainable Material & Processes in Volcom’s Product Mix
- Certify Volcom’s Major Surf Events as Deep Blue Surfing Events™
- Continue Give Back Series that benefit community-based programs
Now let's see how we did...
GOAL: ADOPT AND USE THE INNOVATIVE E P&L (ENVIRONMENTAL PROFIT & LOSS) MANAGEMENT TOOL
This has been one of the marquee initiatives of our sustainability commitments, and in 2013 we embarked on our first report measuring the impact of Volcom products across our entire supply chain using the manufacturing data we collected in 2012. In fact, we’ve just recently wrapped up our 2015 E P&L, the 4th iteration of the annual report measuring previous year’s data. Learn more about the E P&L here.
The benefit of adopting the E P&L is that it allows us to make better New Future decisions since it gives us a clear understanding of where our biggest impacts are occurring. Additionally, it translates these impacts into the language of business: dollars. To see the full details on what an E P&L is, and how and why it was developed, please Kering's E P&L website.
GOAL: REDUCE VOLCOM'S CARBON EMISSIONS, WASTE & WATER USAGE BY 25%
STATUS: WORK IN PROGRESS
You would think this would be the low hanging fruit, right? We'll, there's a catch with this target. It's one thing to control the water use at your facilities (we don't use much), and to reduce, reuse and recycle at your offices and stores. It's another thing to address the emissions that are a result of all the products we produce, and to reduce the amount of waste that's created and water that's used from the point of raw material extraction to the product shipping out of our distribution center. And that's just what this target has come to mean...
When we put this target out there, we were not yet involved in E P&L accounting. We were thinking of typical environmental reporting guidelines for the sites that we own and operate, imagining that if we changed out all our lights, switched to low-flow fixtures and low-water landscaping (which we did in 2011-2012) and put a better recycling program in place (which we did), that we would be able to tackle and achieve this goal. Not so, once we adopted the E P&L management tool, the target moved considerably.
In 2016, we're looking at the results in our E P&L to measure our impacts and now understanding that approximately 70% of our environmental impacts are occurring at the furthest back points of our supply chain. In other words, it's how we design and source materials that will matter and really move the needle on this target. To address this, we'll continue to work with Kering and our strategy team to revise this goal to one that is more realistic and aligned with how we're now quantifying our impacts.
GOAL: ELIMINATE PVC FROM VOLCOM PRODUCTS
PVC is also known as polyvinyl chloride and is often used in products that require flexibility; things like belts and bags made out material meant to simulate real leather. Why avoid PVC? PVC contains high levels of phthalates, which are charged with being carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting. These phthalates, which are not bound to the PVC in any way, are at high risk of leaching out into the environment over time.
There were a few product styles in our line that contained PVC at one time, but we are glad to say as of 2016 and moving forward, PVC has been eliminated from all Volcom products.
Additionally, Volcom continues to work with Kering on a robust chemicals management program that includes ensuring that all hazardous chemicals have been phased out and eliminated from our production by 2020.
GOAL: SOURCE PAPER AND PACKAGING MATERIAL FROM RECYCLED SOURCES AND/OR CERTIFIED RESPONSIBLY MANAGED FORESTS
We can't imagine you’d be stoked to know that the paper that we printed on in the office, or the hangtags that were temporarily swinging from that new Volcom shirt you bought, were made from trees sourced from endangered or ancient forests. So ensuring that we move to a higher mix of certified, responsibly sourced paper with a high recycled content rate is important to us.
So how are we doing? When we look at our biggest uses: 98% of the paper that our product catalogs are printed on is FSC certified, as was 100% of the paper that made up our first in-home mailer catalog. Additionally our biggest hangtag programs are either made with recycled content, and/or are FSC certified material and reports from our trim suppliers come back calculating 70% and more recycled content.
As for office paper, here in North America we're at a +90% mix of certified/recycled content, and the cardboard we purchase for warehousing and shipping is at a 89% mix of certified/recycled.
We are glad to report that each season, we're seeing more and more paper products get the attention they deserve, from office paper and boxes, to hangtags and catalogs.
GOAL: INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL & PROCESSES IN VOLCOM’S PRODUCT MIX
Offering more sustainable choices in our collections is one of the surest ways to express our commitment and then share it with you. At one point, we branded styles that had a sustainability feature in them with a different logo – it was called V.Co-logical. We’ve since discontinued the use of V.Co-logical branding as signifier of a garment featuring sustainable material, with the expectation that sustainability is something that is meant for the entire Volcom line of products.
With that said, you won’t always see sustainability pointed out on a product you get from us, but if you take the time to read the label or the description on the website, you’ll find the use of organic cotton (3.7% of all the cotton Volcom used in 2015 was organic) and recycled polyester (just over 7% of Volcom’s total polyester used in 2015 was from recycled content) occurring more and more. In fact, looking forward, we are challenging ourselves with the goal of our sustainable fiber mix being at a 20% ratio by the end of 2020 as outlined in our 2020 Sustainability Targets.
Get more details on how Volcom is incorporating sustainable materials into products.
GOAL: CERTIFY VOLCOM’S MAJOR SURF EVENTS AS DEEP BLUE SURFING EVENTS™
When Sustainable Surf came on the scene with a set of guidelines for running a more sustainable surf event, it was right in line with what we were thinking and we jumped on board immediately. Since 2012, each of our major surf events, the Fiji Pro (2012 – 2013) and the Volcom Pipe Pro on the North Shore of Hawaii, have been certified Deep Blue Surf Events. Then in 2015, we added the TCT Champs event at Lower Trestles at San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County, California as another Deep Blue Surf Event in our portfolio.
Since working with Sustainable Surf, we’ve offset over 2,500 Mt of CO2 through verified, mostly Wildlife Works REDD+, programs allowing us to be a part of protecting threatened forests while providing sustainable development opportunities to local forest communities mainly in the Kasigau corridor in Kenya. To put it in perspective, this is the equivalent of eliminating 526 passenger cars being driven in North America for a year!
GOAL: CONTINUE GIVE BACKS TO COMMUNITY-BASED PROGRAMS
Our Give Back Series launched in 2009 when we offered a t-shirt in which a portion of the proceeds of each sale were donated to TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) to raise awareness around autism. Since then, we've partnered with many organizations to do the same. From breast cancer education and prevention (Boarding For Breast Cancer) and music in schools (Fender Music Foundation) to youth mentoring (STOKED and Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii). Happy to report, the program is alive and well. 2015 saw our continued our support of the Mauli Ola Foundation with the launch of our second Give Back with them, as well as a new partner in the Dan Eldon/Creative Visions Foundation. 2015 also marked Volcom's 5th year in working with Boarding For Breast Cancer (B4BC) to create a range of Snow products that includes a Give Back to B4BC. Since its inception, the Give Back Series has generated over a half million dollars for our non-profit partners and other community initiatives.
While there's always room for improvement, we're proud of what we've accomplished since that commitment back in 2013. However, a long journey is still ahead of us... Please join us in the New Future as we look ahead to the road to 2020 and stay up-to-date on all things sustainability at Volcom.