Waste

We have set a new goal to eliminate single-use plastics by 2030

Sun rising on a green landscape

We have a responsibility to help prevent and properly care for global waste, which impacts the environment and adds unnecessary costs to our business. In North America, 90% of waste comes from our retail sites, and we are exploring ways to significantly reduce and divert our packaging waste. By achieving our goal, we will divert more than 30 million pounds of material annually from landfills, while innovating to optimize packaging and reduce volume, lower business costs, and support industrywide change.

To meet our goal, we are pursuing a few opportunities. Since landlords control waste management at 75% of our North American stores, we historically focused on engaging our largest landlords to identify opportunities to improve recycling. However, in recognition that an industry solution will take more time, we have been exploring steps we can take as a company to innovate our packaging design and recycling systems to achieve our 2020 goal.

In response to growing global conversations around plastic waste, Gap Inc. is proud to be doing our part to address plastic, both upstream and downstream, in our business, and we have set a new goal to eliminate single-use plastics by 2030.

We are committed to eliminating single-use plastics by 2030.

Our efforts focus on the boxes, hangers and plastic wrapping used to transport and protect our clothes as they move from distribution centers to stores.

2020 Progress
With COVID-19 disrupting business across malls, waste haulers and internal operations, we shifted our waste diversion efforts to our new goal of eliminating single-use plastics by 2030.  

Our 2019 plastic consumption inventory showed us that we use nearly 70 million pounds of single-use plastic per year. In 2020, we identified critical focus areas: the hangers, polybags, shopping bags and e-commerce mailers that account for 60 percent of our single-use plastic inventory. We created an internal, cross-functional task force to find solutions for these high-impact categories. In addition, we continue to innovate packaging design, product labeling and recycling systems.

While COVID-19 delayed some of our work, our 2020 highlights include the following:

  • Gap Inc. increased the recycled content in its polymailer from 35 percent to 50 percent (to be rolled out in 2021).
  • New folding standards for Gap, Old Navy and Athleta have saved $13 million in freight costs, and avoided more than 8 million pounds of plastic packaging.
  • Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic use 100 percent recycled tape for all content and care labels, which has the potential to save 830 tons of plastic annually. These brands also have a price ticket with smaller dimensions that incorporates FSC-certified paper, saving 120 tons of paper.
  • Old Navy has expanded its hanger recycling program to 600 stores, which will divert 2.2 million pounds of plastic from the landfill annually. The program will be expanded to all stores by the end of 2021.
  • Athleta diverted 74 percent of the waste it generated.

We continue to test solutions that account for the fact that only a handful of municipalities are able to recycle soft plastics. These include better communication with store employees about current recycling opportunities at their location, collaboration across our vendors to reduce the size of polybags shipped to stores, and creating in-store marketing materials with recyclability in mind. We also continue to engage the industry and our landlords to develop longer-term solutions to reduce waste and expand recycling across the sector.

Looking ahead, we will be participating in industry working groups and piloting emerging plastic material alternatives to reduce, and eventually eliminate, our plastic packaging footprint.

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