In honor of Earth Day, Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) today unveiled new commitments from Banana Republic and Old Navy to accelerate the company’s use of more sustainable materials in apparel production and reduce the environmental impacts of product manufacturing. Today’s announcement marks the latest step in Gap Inc.’s journey to integrate more sustainable product innovation and technology across its portfolio, and builds on 2017 commitments made by the company’s namesake brand Gap and Athleta.
Banana Republic will continue to integrate sustainability into design and manufacturing decisions to reduce the environmental impacts of each garment. Today the brand made the following commitments:
- SUSTAINABLE COTTON AND FIBERS BY 2023:
- The brand aims to source 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources, primarily sourcing through the Better Cotton Initiative, as well as through recycled and organic sources.
- Additionally, at least 50 percent of all Banana Republic branded product will aim to source sustainable fibers, including: cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative, partnering with Canopy-compliant suppliers to source preferred man-made cellulosics; sourcing recycled and responsible wool from vendors that are compliant under the Responsible Wool Standard; linen and recycled polyester.
- REDUCE WATER IMPACT AND PROMOTE CLEANER CHEMISTRY BY 2025:
- Banana Republic aims to make 50 percent of all products with techniques that save at least 20 percent water in comparison to conventional methods at mills and at laundries. This will include Banana Republic leveraging the smart denim wash program called Washwell™, which was launched by Gap brand in 2016 and reduces water usage by 20 percent or more in the product’s garment wash stage for denim products.
- The brand will also focus on using cleaner chemistry in the supply chain, leveraging Gap Inc.’s Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) commitment and ongoing efforts to select more preferred chemistry options in Banana Republic’s products.
- ECO-FRIENDLY DENIM:
- In addition to adopting Washwell™ for Banana Republic’s denim products to preserve water in the garment wash process, Banana Republic will also utilize more sustainable dye methods, such as foam dye, eco-friendly finishes such as bio-softeners and laser technology, and trims made out of recycled materials, to make its denim more eco-friendly.
“Sustainability is important to our brand, to our environment and to our customer,” said Mark Breitbard, Banana Republic President and CEO. “Banana Republic is committed to using production techniques that will save and preserve water quality while creating versatile and more sustainable fabrics that our consumers have come to know and love.”
Old Navy will also increase its sourcing of sustainable cotton and enhance efforts to use water-saving techniques. The brand sells 27,000 Rockstar jeans a day alone, making the scale of its sustainability goals around denim and cotton significant. Today the brand made the following commitments:
- SUSTAINABLE COTTON BY 2022:
- Old Navy aims to source 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources, primarily through the Better Cotton Initiative as well as through verified, responsibly-grown cotton and recycled cotton.
- WATER-SAVING EFFORTS BY 2022:
- Additionally, 100 percent of Old Navy’s denim product aims to be made using techniques that save water, including proven wash processes. In Spring 2019, 60 percent of Old Navy’s denim was already made using Washwell™ techniques, saving 20 percent or more in the product’s garment wash stage compared to conventional techniques.
In a focused effort to communicate product sustainability efforts directly to customers, today Old Navy is also unveiling Heart Earth, the brand’s new sustainability platform. Through Heart Earth, customers can find the latest information about how Old Navy is working to meet their sustainability goals.
“At Old Navy, we believe every one of us has the power to make a difference, and we owe it to future generations to leave our planet better than we found it. But, our work to ensure the world runs right is never done, and we want to bring our customers along on our journey,” said Jamie Gersch, CMO of Old Navy. “We’re proud to introduce Heart Earth, Old Navy’s new sustainability platform, including our goals to produce more sustainable product related to Cotton and Water by 2022.”
Gap and Athleta
Today’s announcement builds on 2017 commitments made by the company’s namesake brand Gap and Athleta. As part of its Gap for Good platform for more sustainable fashion, Gap committed to obtaining 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources by 2021, employing water-saving techniques, as well as empowering women through Gap Inc.’s signature life skills and education program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement). The brand’s Washwell™ efforts have saved over 229 million liters of water since 2016 when compared to conventional wash methods.
In 2017, Athleta committed to making 80 percent of the brand’s apparel materials with sustainable fibers, such as recycled polyester and nylon, organic cotton, and others, by 2020. Athleta, whose assortment predominantly features technical fabrics, recently announced progress made to date. Athleta announced last year it had earned B Corp Certification, becoming one of the largest apparel brands in the world to certify as B Corp, for its focus on social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Incubated alongside Athleta, Gap Inc.’s newest brand, Hill City, was launched as a B Corp certified brand by integrating sustainability throughout many of its products, using high-quality renewable and recycled fibers to create performance fabrics.
On Earth Day, Gap Inc. is also joining forces with other apparel brands to tackle clothing waste through a unique effort. As a core partner of the Make Fashion Circular initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the company is supporting the #WearNext campaign alongside other retail brands and the City of New York. Beginning on Earth Day and lasting through mid-June, participating Athleta, Banana Republic and Gap stores in New York City will host drop off recycling bins where New Yorkers can bring clothing they no longer wear to ensure it will be diverted from landfills through recycling or repurposing. An online map created by New York City Department of Sanitation will guide people to locations across the city where they can take clothes.
More on Gap Inc.’s product sustainability commitments...
The global apparel industry is one of the largest, most intensive users of water in the world. In response, the company has been steadily scaling partnerships with sourcing suppliers and industry groups throughout its supply chain. In 2018, Gap Inc. unveiled a new sustainable manufacturing goal to conserve a total of 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020. So far, Gap Inc.-led projects have saved over 5 billion liters of water. Product innovation and efficiency improvements at fabric mills and laundries are key to achieving these water savings.
Beginning with Gap Inc.’s launch of its Water Quality Program in 2004, which requires denim laundries to adhere to strict guidelines on wastewater by treating it to remove any residue from manufacturing, the company has steadily ramped up its efforts to help drive water efficiency improvements at the mill and laundry level. In 2013, the company expanded this focus by joining the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) program, and now requires its strategic mills and laundries to test their wastewater discharge twice a year and publish the results through the ZDHC Gateway.
A significant portion of the fiber used by Gap Inc. brands is cotton, which is one of the most water-intensive crops globally. Collectively since 2016, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta have sourced more than 371 million pounds of cotton through the company’s membership of the global nonprofit Better Cotton Initiative, which recently ranked Gap Inc. #4 on its top 10 list of top companies that source sustainably farmed and sourced cotton by volume.
The company is also taking action as a global retailer to reduce its environmental footprint across its supply chain. By the end of 2020, Gap Inc. has committed to a 50 percent absolute reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in its owned and operated facilities globally from a 2015 baseline, and to divert 80 percent of its shipping packaging waste in the U.S.