HanesBrands says it has reduced water use by 25%, energy use by 16% and carbon emissions by 16%, compared to its 2007 baseline.
The apparel company reported its carbon emissions and related information to the CDP in its 2017 Climate Change Report. Hanes said it also shifted 25% of its energy consumption to renewable sources and diverted 84% of the waste from its company-owned supply chain from landfills.
Hanes is working toward a 40% reduction in energy use and carbon emissions, 50% reduction in water use, sourcing renewable energy for 40% of the company’s needs, and achieving zero waste by diverting company-owned supply chain waste from landfills, by 2020.
Here are some of the areas the company focuses on to reach its goals:
- Energy reduction: The company’s energy management program has an intense focus on its (mostly) company-owned supply chain operations, which have reduced energy used per pound of apparel manufacturing by 16%. Most of the company’s manufacturing facilities have registered energy use baselines with the EPA and have committed to earning Energy Star awards for reducing energy use by more than 10% within a five-year period; to date, 23 facilities have earned awards.
- Renewable energy: HanesBrands owns and operates two biomass facilities in its global energy portfolio. The first is a process steam biomass boiler at the company’s textiles facility in the Dominican Republic, and the second is a biomass-fueled combined heat and power system connected to its textile and sock plants in El Salvador. A large portion of the energy used to make Hanes’ T-shirts and underwear in the Western Hemisphere is generated by biomass, hydro and geothermal energy sources.
- Waste diversion: To reach its landfill diversion rate of 84%, the company recycles more than 118 million pounds of fabric-cut parts, corrugate, plastic and other materials. The company continues to work to identify opportunities to minimize waste and reuse materials.
- Water conservation and wastewater treatment: Hanes focuses on reducing the amount of water used per pound of manufactured apparel by researching and implementing best-in-class management processes and procedures. The company also sources nearly all of its cotton from the southeastern US, where annual rainfall exceeds a cotton plant’s water requirements.
Hanes says that making strides toward its sustainability goals and protecting the environment creates value for the company, investors, consumers and communities, and that “publicly reporting progress against our goals is an important part of that effort.” The company has been reporting to the CDP every year since 2007. Hanes scored a “B” for carbon emissions and for forests in the CDP’s 2016 report.
Apparel companies are increasingly focusing on sustainability, with many focusing on the carbon footprint of their products. The carbon footprint of a garment largely depends on the material. While synthetic fibers like polyester have less impact on water and land than grown materials like cotton, they emit more greenhouse gasses per kilogram, according to the World Resources Institute. A polyester shirt has more than double the carbon footprint of a cotton shirt (5.5 kg vs. 2.1 kg, or 12.1 pounds vs 4.6 pounds). Polyester production for textiles released about 706 billion kg (1.5 trillion pounds) of greenhouse gases in 2015, the equivalent of 185 coal-fired power plants’ annual emissions.
Companies that report their progress toward environmental management to the CDP are ensuring “sustainability and profitability,” CDP says.