Yeti Holdings is a global designer, retailer, and distributor of outdoor products. The Austin, Texas-based company has more than 800 employees based in seven countries. While it does not own or operate manufacturing facilities, it partners with those who do. As of November 2022, its products were manufactured in the United States, China, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Through the continuation of our ESG work, we deepened the connection between our core business operations and our ESG goals,” says Matt Reintjes, chief executive officer. “We built stronger relationships with our suppliers to better understand the scope of our supply chain’s environmental impact.”
How does Yeti manage its carbon footprint?
The company joined the Science-Based Target Initiative this month, which uses the best technologies to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. It says that its Scope 3 emissions tied to its supply chain represent 99% of its total emissions and include those associated with product materials, third-party manufacturing, and waste management. Because Yeti is rapidly growing, its Scope 3 emissions also increased by 32% from 2020 to 2021.
Most immediately, it wants to trim that to 27% a year. To do so, it is working with several peer groups and conducting energy and environmental audits — specifically at the ‘drink ware’ units in china. “Through this collaboration, we can expedite the assessment process, deepen supplier relationships, and accelerate our suppliers’ climate action strategies. We anticipate integrating insights from these audits when engaging with other facilities in our supply chain in the future,” the company says in its 2022 sustainability statement.
It is also collaborating with experts on implementing new renewable energy strategies at its headquarters and among its suppliers. To that end, it says it is progressing. Its Scope 1 and 2 emissions tied to its operations and the fuels it buys from others are falling. Its goal is to decrease those emissions by half and to buy 100% renewable electricity for its US facilities. In 2021, 68% of the electricity it consumed at its US locations came from green sources. Those efforts, combined with buying renewable energy credits, helped it cut its Scope 2 (what it buys from others) emissions by 62% between 2020 and 2021.
However, its Scope 1 emissions at its operations increased by 10%. It attributed to that increased growth and the use of fleet vehicles. It notes that its Scope 1 emissions represent less than 1% of its total greenhouse gas emissions.
What about the materials that Yeti uses to design its products?
Besides deploying energy efficiency techniques and renewable energy, the company is working with its suppliers to develop more environmentally friendly materials. Specifically, it is consulting with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Textile Exchange, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and the Global Fashion Agenda to understand the energy, emissions, water, waste, and circularity profile of the materials it uses. Therefore, it created a scorecard to prioritize materials, especially those used in apparel. The aim is to use materials that can be recycled.
For example, it converted Yeti hats, hard brims, and short and long-sleeve t-shirts from virgin polyester to recycled polyester. As a result, its GHC emissions will fall substantially.
Moreover, the regulatory landscape is pushing companies to use safer chemicals. In that regard, the company has removed long-chain PFAs chemicals from all products. PFAs are an broad umbrella group that hosts about 5,000 chemicals. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not easily break down and remain in the body. Hence, a fierce effort is underway for more oversight. In the movie “Dark Waters,” the protagonist Rob Bilott sues DuPont and reveals that its chemical — a subset of ‘PFAs’ — is contaminating drinking water supplies for residents of the Ohio Valley.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAs can be found in cookware, pizza boxes, and stain repellants. Exposure to PFAs could lead to low birth weights, weakened immune systems, and reduced fertility — on top of causing cancer. “Forever chemicals” have now been detected in nearly 2,800 communities, including 2,411 drinking water systems and 328 military installations, according to the Environmental Working Group. It says that more than 200 million Americans have been exposed to PFAs and that roughly 30,000 companies could be discharging those chemicals into the air and water.
Yeti is also using product packaging that is recyclable, reusable, and compostable. “Our packaging material mix has remained consistent since we began reporting that information in our 2021 ESG Report: 89% of our packaging is fiber-based (including corrugated boxes), 5% plastic, 3% metal, and 3% other materials … When assessing end-of-life options for our packaging in 2021, we found that 97% of our packaging by weight is recyclable due to fiber-based boxes being the majority of our packaging.”
Yeti designs products that last a long time. But it is also committed to the circular economy. To avoid sending its products to landfill, it works with third-party logistics providers to implement next-best-use solutions, including product donations, recycling, and waste-to-energy options. As a result, in 2021, it avoided sending 310,000 pounds to a landfill. And it will continue to conduct waste audits and expand data collection.