VF Corporation, whose brands include The North Face, Timberland, Wrangler and Lee, today released its first-ever Forest Derived Materials Policy, which sets purchasing guidelines and commits the company and its suppliers to using sustainable forest materials and products.
The announcement comes as several other multi-nationals have recently developed similar forest products purchasing policies that extend to their supply chains. These include Ralph Lauren, H&M, Zara, Stella McCartney, ASOS, Levis Strauss & Co.
Deforestation also represents a financial risk to companies — as much as $906 billion total annual turnover could be at stake, according to a recent CDP report.
VF says the new forestry policy aims to avoid issues associated with deforestation and forest degradation including the loss of ancient and endangered forests, loss of biodiversity and habitat, use of forced labor in making forestry products and loss of indigenous peoples and local community rights.
It says the company will use products made with recycled fiber whenever possible. The policy also encourages VF and its suppliers to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and fiber.
It extends across all VF brands, coalitions and suppliers involved in the procurement, sourcing and manufacture of all products produced for any VF brand. The company says this includes, but is not limited to: fabrics containing man-made cellulosic fibers, hangtags, shoeboxes, hangers, shopping bags, corrugate, tissue paper, store fixtures and solid wood furniture.
All suppliers must sign and adhere to the policy, which sets various timelines for compliance. By the end of 2017, for example, all office paper, commercial print and corrugate in the US and EMEA, as well as all man-made cellulosic fiber materials globally, must comply with the forests policy.
VF says it will randomly audit suppliers to ensure compliance.
The company partnered with several NGOs and other stakeholders, including nonprofit environmental organization Canopy, to develop the policy. Its overarching sustainability and responsibility program has promoted responsible material use and transparency in recent years. This extends to the company’s chemical management program, as well.
VF also has publicly supported the Clean Power Plan in the US and the Paris climate agreement globally, and says investing in energy efficiency and other low carbon initiatives has already saved the company $25 million.