Minimizing Environmental Impacts
Respect for the environment guides our actions and decision-making, from the early stages of product development to the point of sale at our retail stores.
We measure our world-wide environmental footprint and take actions to reduce our impacts so we can achieve the established goals set by our Global Sustainability team for our offices, retail locations, distribution centers and VF-owned and operated manufacturing facilities. These goals are outlined in our Sustainability & Responsibility report.
With Responsible Sourcing, we are working to instill this same commitment to environmental responsibility within VF’s supplier factories. We partner with them to conduct environmental analyses of their operations to highlight the areas of greatest opportunity, and then we help them make improvements that aren’t just good for the environment, but generate financial benefits as well.
We help our suppliers focus primarily on three sustainability categories: water, energy, and waste. VF’s wastewater standards ensure that process water discharged to the environment meets the most stringent global requirements, and we’re working hard to continually help our suppliers identify ways to reduce overall consumption. Our dedicated focus on energy reduction has led to consistent energy savings year over year. Partnerships with energy efficiency experts in China, Vietnam, and Cambodia have contributed to strong results at supplier factories in those countries. And, we continue to work with our suppliers to understand how we can collectively send less waste to landfills.
When a sustainable mindset takes hold across a global network of facilities, there is a compounding effect of the positive results produced. This is our ambition. VF wants to serve as a catalyst to drive sustainability improvements in individual factories around the world. We have lots of work ahead of us, but we’re proud of the progress we’ve achieved so far.
Higg in Action: Improving Sustainability at VF's Strategic Supplier Factories
Self-Evaluation: We require all VF-owned and all strategic supplier factories to complete a self-evaluation using Higg Index tools and methodologies. The results from these self-assessments are submitted to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
Verification Process: A member of VF’s Sustainable Operations Team reviews the self-assessment then visits each factory to verify its responses using a protocol outlined by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. Acting as a consultant rather than an auditor, VF’s Sustainable Operations Specialist helps the factory’s management team understand its environmental sustainability strengths and weaknesses, and ways to improve.
Action Plans: Following the Higg Score review, VF’s Sustainable Operations Team works directly with the supplier factory to plan and advance improvement opportunities. These actions directly address ways to improve the factory’s Higg score, but they also emphasize newly identified opportunities for environmental enhancements that the Higg scoring helped to uncover.
Follow-up and Training: As a follow-up to the data analysis and action planning, the Sustainable Operations Team drives change through targeted programs and trainings that are customized for each of our strategic supplier facilities and their unique situation.
Measurement and Target Setting: Members of VF’s Responsible Sourcing Team, in collaboration with members of VF’s Supply Chain and Corporate Sustainability functions, uses its understanding of environmental risks, opportunities for improvement, and regional conditions to set targets for supplier factories in each region where we do business. Additionally, we set an overall minimum Higg Index score for all VF-owned factories and suppliers. Bearing in mind the need for continual improvement, VF assesses the minimum target score on an annual basis.
Video: Environmental Sustainability in Supplier Factories
Respect for the environment is deeply embedded at VF. We work hard to infuse this mindset and supporting initiatives throughout our supply chain and into our supplier factories. In this video you will see how VF shares our sustainability knowledge with suppliers so they can incorporate more eco-conscious operations into their production facilities.
The Higg Index is an innovative tool that enables the apparel and footwear industries – as well as consumers and customers – to compare similar products against a standard set of environmental and social criteria. Just as consumers look at ingredients in foods, the Higg Index allows for accurate evaluation of water, energy and chemical use in apparel and footwear products. It was created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), of which VF is a proud founding member. VF uses the Higg Index to establish environmental and social sustainability baselines for our supplier factories and to drive continuous improvement over time.