Raw Materials and Product

Blue cotton t-shirt

We are committed to selecting fibers that have a lower carbon footprint, use less water, create less waste and support efforts to protect biodiversity. We focus on the materials that account for nearly all (approximately 98 percent) of our fiber consumption: natural fibers (cotton, linen, hemp, and animal fibers), synthetics (polyester, nylon, elastane, etc.) and manufactured cellulosics (viscose, rayon and modal). 

These efforts are helping us meet our broader ambitions to achieve carbon neutrality and to have a net-positive water impact by 2050. 

Goals

Progress

By 2025

Source 100 percent of cotton from more sustainable sources*

2021

79% of cotton sourced from more sustainable sources

By 2025

All of our brands have a goal to source at least 45% percent of polyester from recycled sources (rPET)

2021

Combined Brands’ Progress: 10%

 

*Defined as: Better Cotton (formerly BCI), verified US-grown cotton (USCTP), organic, in-conversion (to verified organic), recycled and regenerative.

 

 

For more detailed and historical data on our fibers sourcing progress, please see our SASB Index. 

Our Approach

Our preferred fibers strategy aims for resilient supply chains that have a lower impact on the environment and support social wellbeing. We support this work by developing impact measurement metrics that allow better decision-making by our brands and Product Development teams, collaborating with our supply chain partners and participating in industry initiatives. 

To identify preferred fibers, we use industry tools such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and the Textile Exchange’s Preferred Fiber and Material Matrix.  

We also use life cycle assessment (LCA) data on indicators including global warming potential, water use and eutrophication, as well as holistic evaluations for biodiversity, potential for circularity, chemistry, land use and social conditions within production. We are also exploring ways to develop definitions and a validated approach to adopting regenerative agriculture and alternatives to fossil-fuel-derived raw materials. 

Our brands are empowered to set their own raw materials goals and integrate preferred fiber solutions in product development, where more than 80% of impact decisions are made. Our ESG team provides comprehensive resources to aid more sustainable decisions; these include recorded training sessions, regularly updated fiber consumption reports, an internal Product Claims Toolkit, and a materials calculator that uses MSI data to provide measurements of our brand’s climate and water impacts.  

Transparency 

A critical component of our work is collaboration with our suppliers to develop sustainable manufacturing processes. To connect with all levels of our supply chain, we are working to improve our transparency and visibility. As of 2021, we report via the Open Apparel Registry on all Tier 1 suppliers, and we have more than 65 percent visibility into Tier 2. 

Natural Fibers  

We take a portfolio approach to sourcing natural fibers (cotton, linen, hemp, and animal fibers) in order to scale multiple options and develop fiber security.  

We have a particular focus on cotton, which represents the majority of Gap Inc.’s fiber consumption across all brands. Our cotton strategy works to build fiber security, evaluate sourcing risks, and develop more sustainable sources of cotton that are better for people and planet.  

Partnerships: In 2020, we joined Textile Exchange’s 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge, and we were the first company to sign on to the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, which provides verified data on the sustainability practices used on U.S. cotton farms. We have also partnered with Textile Genesis, Better Cotton as well as other brands to advance traceability within the supply chain for greater assurance. Outside of the U.S., we are deepening our understanding of the social and environmental risks of sourcing from water-stressed regions in India, China and Pakistan.   

We closely monitor and manage the human rights risks that arise in the often opaque and complex cotton supply chains. We conduct high-level risk assessments to identify countries that have fewer protections for labor rights or increased risk of forced labor and human trafficking. These assessments rely on tools such as Verité's Forced Labor Commodity Atlas and the U.S. Department of State's Findings on the Worst Forms of Forced and Child Labor and Trafficking in Persons Report, as well as consultations with expert stakeholders. As a result of this work, our current policies prohibit suppliers from using cotton originating from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Xinjiang in our products.  

Read our Animal Welfare Policy here

Stacked spools of thread

Synthetics

The synthetic materials we use in our products include polyester, spandex, nylon and elastane, and provide essential performance properties. However, synthetics are most commonly derived from nonrenewable, petroleum-based sources and have fewer end-of-life solutions than natural fibers.

To address these challenges, we’re taking steps to source more sustainable synthetic fibers, improve manufacturing efficiency and develop high-performance products with these materials. We are especially committed to advancing lower-impact opportunities around nylon and elastane, two critical performance fibers with few existing alternative options. As research (R&D) evolves on microfiber/microplastics shedding in garments, we will incorporate the latest insights into our preferred fiber strategies.

Partnerships: We are an active member of the Microfibers Consortium, as well as the Textile Exchange Recycled Polyester Round Table and Biosynthetics Working Group, which investigates industry innovations toward more sustainable fibers. We are also collaborating with the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) to innovate a process to separate spandex, polyester, and cotton in pre and post-textile waste in order to increase recycling opportunities.

Manufactured Cellulosic Fibers

We are committed to helping protect critical forests and ecosystems that promote biodiversity, protect watersheds and help mitigate the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Our Wood-Derived Fabric Policy aims to ensure that our suppliers do not use ancient, endangered, high-conservation or high-carbon value forest areas to make cellulose-based textiles, including rayon, modal, viscose and lyocell. With this foundational policy, we have adopted a nominated Green Shirt policy based on Canopy’s Hot Button Report which rated “green shirt' or “dark green shirt” producers who have verified the highest levels of forestry practices and incorporate closed-loop and more sustainable manufacturing processes.

Partnerships: Together with CanopyStyle, we are encouraging our suppliers to set policies and complete audits to guarantee they are not sourcing from ancient and endangered forests in their production. We also partner with Canopy on next-generation fiber sourcing, which prioritizes alternative inputs such as recycled textiles and waste materials.

In early 2022, we reached our goal to eliminate the use of wood-derived fibers sourced from ancient and endangered forests.

Our Commitment to Biodiversity

Biodiversity—the variation and range of biological organisms on Earth—underpins the health of our planet, human well-being and business resilience. Today, biodiversity is at risk due to land use and sea-level rise, pollution, over-exploitation, climate change, and invasive species and disease.

Our company depends on biodiversity to support the production of raw materials and nourish the global communities that support our business. Gap Inc. supports the development and implementation of science-based targets for nature and is committed to developing a biodiversity strategy to meet the forthcoming targets.

Partnerships: We align with The World Resources Institute, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Textile Exchange, which have established a number of environmental goals and initiatives covering sustainable sourcing, water resilience, carbon neutrality and zero discharge of hazardous chemicals.