American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) is doubling down on water recycling and conservation efforts, exceeding its original goal ahead of schedule.
The Pittsburgh-based brand has released the results of its 2022 ESG study and announced newly updated commitments based on its performance. “In 2022, a comprehensive materiality assessment and subsequent update was conducted, which included interviews with executives, an employee survey, analysis of customer and industry data, and feedback from the majority of our shareholders,” it said.
Last year, the company reduced water consumption per pair of jeans by 38 percent, exceeding its original goal of 30 percent a year earlier. Now AEO is deepening its promise to reduce water consumption and promote water recycling, especially in denim.
The retailer plans to recycle 70 percent of all water used in its denim laundries by 2025 and reduce its overall water footprint by 30 percent by 2028 across its own operations, strategic factories and mills. Last year, laundries recycled 9 million gallons of water, accounting for 64 percent of total laundry water use. Adopting better production practices in denim factories has saved 4 billion gallons of water since 2017.
AEO has now committed to reducing its emissions to zero by 2050 and initial work towards this goal is underway. The company reported that it is on track to meet its initial goal of reducing carbon emissions across its manufacturing by 40 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2040 from its 2018 baseline. Emissions have fallen by 2 percent since 2021.
The adoption of renewable energy will contribute to the goal as AEO has pledged to secure non-fossil energy sources for 100 percent of its electricity needs at its owned and operated facilities by next year. AEO achieved a renewable energy share of 23 percent in 2022. The report also outlined its new commitment to phase out coal-fired boilers across the supply chain by 2030.
In 2022, the company recorded a 60 percent decrease in transportation-related Scope 3 emissions compared to the base year of 2019. Although not part of its science-based targets, the company monitors emissions generated during upstream transportation from factories to distribution centers as well during downstream transport from distribution centers to retailers or consumers. AEO praised the acquisition of Quiet Platforms, its logistics subsidiary, for helping the company achieve a 6 percent reduction in downstream transportation emissions.
With 85 percent of the company’s emissions coming from raw materials and manufacturing, AEO has also decided to shift 75 percent of its fiber intake to sustainable fiber sources by 2028. The company is well on its way to achieving its previous goal of sourcing 100 percent sustainable or organic cotton from groups such as the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), the Organic Content Standard (OCS), the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS ) and the US Cotton Trust Protocol was verified within this period and reached 62 percent last year. Cotton accounts for 61 percent of total material consumption.
AEO sustainably sourced 90 percent of man-made cellulose fibers last year and is well on its way to achieving its 100 percent goal by 2028. The company uses CanopyStyle’s Green Shirt rating system to track its closed-loop production of man-made cellulose fibers. Chemicals used in the production of tree-based fibers such as rayon, viscose, modal and lyocell are captured, recycled and reused, reducing water pollution becomes.
New to the commitment are goals around recycled and synthetic fibers. According to AEO, 20 percent of all-natural fiber volume will be derived from recycled materials within the next five years. Over the same period, the company aims to source 50 percent of its nylon from sustainable sources, and by 2022 it will reach 25 percent.
The company has also revised its polyester plans. In 2019, the company set a goal of sustainably sourcing 50 percent of polyester fibers and already achieved 25 percent of this goal last year. The company has increased its commitment to 100 percent sustainable sourcing of polyester by 2028. AEO uses Unifi’s Repreve, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, and also works with the First Mile Initiative to source fiber from recycled, responsibly collected bottles from Taiwan. The company said its overall material-based emissions fell 3 percent last year due to the increased use of recycled polyester and recycled nylon.
“It was incredibly gratifying to see AEO prioritize meaningful change across the industry and be passionate about building a better planet,” wrote Michelle Tarry, head of responsible sourcing and sustainability. “I love that our products make you feel good and that we promote the way our production has the least impact on the environment. I am proud of the team and our continued efforts to develop practices that have a positive impact on the people and communities where our products are made.”
https://sourcingjournal.com/denim/denim-sustainability/aeo-american-eagle-outfitters-esg-2022-water-recycling-denim-emissions-455748/ American Eagle Exceeds Water Recycling Goal at All Denim Laundries – Sourcing Journal