Waste

Waste Working towards 80% waste diversion

We have a responsibility to help prevent and properly care for global waste, which impacts the environment and adds unnecessary costs to our business. In North America, 90% of waste comes from our retail sites, and we are exploring ways to significantly reduce and divert our packaging waste. By achieving our goal, we will divert more than 30 million pounds of material annually from landfills, while innovating to optimize packaging and reduce volume, lower business costs, and support industrywide change. In 2019 we diverted nearly 65% of waste generated in our North American facilities. 

To meet our goal, we are pursuing a few opportunities. Since landlords control waste management at 75% of our North American stores, we historically focused on engaging our largest landlords to identify opportunities to improve recycling. However, in recognition that an industry solution will take more time, we have been exploring steps we can take as a company to innovate our packaging design and recycling systems to achieve our 2020 goal, and ultimately our new goal to eliminate single-use plastics by 2030. 

We are working towards diverting 80% of the waste produced by our U.S. facilities by 2020 and are committed to eliminating single-use plastics by 2030.

Our efforts focus on the boxes, hangers and plastic wrapping used to transport and protect our clothes as they move from distribution centers to stores.

One area of focus is plastic: In response to growing global conversations around plastic waste, Gap Inc. is proud to be doing our part to address plastic, both upstream and downstream, in our business. In 2019, we conducted a complete inventory of our plastic consumption and engaged in multiple efforts to reduce the quantity, volume and spend of plastic packaging across our brands. We are also continuing to invest in recycling solutions.

To tackle this immense challenge, we are focusing on steps we can take as a company to innovate our packaging design and recycling systems. One of the major changes we are making is implementing stringent requirements on retail polybag size and thickness, with an expected elimination of more than 4 million pounds of plastic every year. 

Our brands are also taking action: Old Navy committed to recycling hangers from 500 stores. Currently, recycling is available at over 100 Old Navy locations, and the brand recycled 124,000 pounds of hangers in 2019. Old Navy is also updating its standards on how apparel is folded for packaging and shipping, which is expected to reduce more than 40,000 pounds of plastic annually. In 2019, Gap brand’s First Favorites line tested alternative materials, moving from plastic packaging to cardboard hangers, which eliminates more than 16,000 pounds of plastic every year.

 

In addition to these efforts, we are continuing to test a suite of solutions that account for the fact that only a portion of our store locations are able to recycle soft plastics. Our ongoing solutions include better communication with store employees about current recycling opportunities at their location, collaboration across our brands to reduce the quantity of polybags shipped to stores, and creating and selecting in-store marketing materials with recyclability in mind. We are also continuing to engage the industry and our landlords to develop longer-term solutions to reduce waste and expand opportunities for recycling across the retail industry.

We recognize that waste in our sector requires both company-specific and industry-level solutions. We must engage external stakeholders to improve recycling capability and access; we must work with the retail industry and suppliers to create new solutions for packaging and retail display; and we must engage with our brands, sourcing, and transportation teams to create and implement programs that help us meet our waste goals. 

Looking forward, we will also need to consider approaches to optimize efficiency and reductions in online packaging, especially as more consumers use these channels to purchase our products.