Circular Design Reducing impacts at every stage
To understand environmental impacts for the entire process—from design, to sourcing, to manufacturing, all the way to a customer’s closet—we perform life cycle assessments (LCA). We use these to evaluate indicators such as product carbon emissions, chemicals and water usage from cradle to grave. Our LCAs helped us understand where we can engage our supply chain, internal teams and customers to help reduce the environmental impacts of our products at all stages.
We perform life cycle assessments to understand
environmental impacts for the entire process—from
design, to sourcing, to manufacturing,
all the way to a customer’s closet.
Given that denim plays such an important role in each of our brands’ assortments, we measured the environmental impact of a pair of both men’s and women’s jeans, as well as one of our T-shirts. Our findings revealed that, in terms of water, raw materials have the greatest impact, primarily due to the water required in cotton cultivation. Consumer use contributed the second-highest water impact due to laundering garments. Consumer use also contributed the most significant carbon emissions due to the high level of energy required to dry jeans and other clothes.
Using these results, we increased our efforts in areas where we have direct influence: raw materials selection, fabric development, garment production and finishing. We also affirmed that durable and well-loved garments, worn time after time, will have lower life cycle impacts, which has strengthened our commitment to classic, well-made designs that our customers love and keep for years.
We affirmed that durable and well-loved garments, worn time after time, will have lower life cycle impacts.
Circular Design: Product End of Life
In order to create truly sustainable fashion, we recognize that we must address the full life cycle of our garments, from raw materials to end of life — and back again.
The environmental impact of a product at the end of its life is large — the majority of textiles ultimately end up in landfill or incinerated. We understand that we must close the loop and create a system that uses recycled inputs and reduces waste. To do so, we are building programs to address product end of life and create circular design systems that reduce waste and increase recycling, upcycling and reuse.
There are opportunities for industrywide collaboration to find innovative solutions to many outstanding issues. We are partnering with leaders in the circular economy, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) and Fashion Positive, to explore circularity solutions. In 2017, we attended the Ellen MacArthur Circular Fibers Initiative workshop and contributed to their report, addressing circularity and solutions for product life extension and end-of-life solutions. This will set the foundation for our strategy, alongside an industry partnership that is seeking large-scale innovation.
As part of our 2020 Circular Fashion Commitment with GFA, we have set three commitments to achieve by 2020:
- We will train our cross-functional product teams for each of our brands on circular design techniques and best practices.
- We will help increase the volume of used garments collected globally through participation in pre-competitive, industry-led collection pilots.
- We will identify the most promising recycling technologies for post-consumer materials across multiple product categories, and we will start scaling them up in our supply chain.