New Future - Environmental Sustainability
The environmental impacts of operating and producing goods globally is significant. We recognize that, and for the last 10 years have been slowly (but steadily) building sustainability and management of our impacts into our business. We’re nowhere near perfect – that goes without saying – and while there’s still a long road ahead of us, here are a few things we’d like to share with you as we look back on 2015. When we look at our impacts, we’re considering everything we can from start to finish; from raw materials to the finished products that end up on your body (and then what you do with them afterwards).
Environmental Profit & Loss (the E P&L)
We’re proud to say, thanks to the E P&L, that as far as we know, we are the first brand in our space to participate in natural capital accounting, This innovative reporting tool is helping us understand where our most significant impacts are occurring (hint, hint: we’re starting here with our products).
Placing a monetary value on the changes to society that our products have created, the E P &L allows us to measure our impacts across all our supply chain broken out by:
- GHGs (greenhouse gas emissions – be sure to keep up on the news post COP21)
- Air Pollution
- Land Use
- Water Use
- Water Pollution.
It then evaluates these impacts and places them in one of the following Tiers:
- Tier 4 – Raw Material Production (from the earliest stages – think farms, and mines)
- Tier 3 – Raw Material Processing (converting cotton to yarn, polymers to polyester, etc.)
- Tier 2 – Manufacturing (sub-components, prep for assembly)
- Tier 1 – Product Assembly (final manufacturing, cutting & sewing, packaging)
- Tier 0 – Stores, Warehouses, and Offices (Volcom)
With 3 years of reporting under our belts, we are confident to say – and it’s well understood and widely accepted amongst our industry – that upwards of 75% of our impacts occur at the points of production furthest back in our supply chain: Raw materials sourcing and production. This continues to help drive the decision-making when it comes to sustainability initiatives in the company.
Something else to note: Kering has made public the methodology of the E P&L; something this good deserves to be opened up to others. Learn more at Kering’s website.
Continued Partnership with Repreve
To address the impacts that our raw material choices have, we have partnered with Repreve, helping “turn plastic bottles into cool stuff.” Once just a staple in the boardshorts line, Repreve Recycled Fibers are finding their way into our Snow base layers, and more significantly, into our Frickin’ chinos; one of Volume biggest volume products. You can be sure there’s more to come. Did you know that every boardshort made with Repreve uses about 5 plastic bottles, giving that resource a new, and we’d like to think, better life!
After evaluating fiber usage for our 2015 E P&L Report, we’re happy to report that recycled PET (Polyester) use is up compared to last year, making up just over 7% of our total polyester use.
Sustainability in T-Shirts
Our t-shirt line is one of our biggest programs, so it’s important that we address sustainability here. The two t-shirt fits (in the Mens range) that make up most of the program are the Basic Fit and the Modern Fit. Both have significant sustainability features.
Our Basic Fit tees are made with conventionally grown US & Mexico cotton that is spun into yarns in Mexico. The fabric is knit here in California and is then dyed at Bluesign™ system partner, Swisstex California in Los Angeles. Swisstex is one of the premier and most sustainable dye houses in the industry, and having their facility Bluesign™ certified equals the elimination of harmful substances from the beginning of the manufacturing process and ensures that there are controls and standards for a more environmentally friendly and safe production. The tees are then sewn in Mexico and shipped to our warehouse here in California.
Our Modern Fit Tees are made of cotton, organically grown in India. Organic cotton has the environmental and social benefits of being grown without pesticides. According to Textile Exchange, organic cotton “emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems.” According to a recent LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) report some of the measured benefits of organic cotton are:
- 46% reduced global warming potential
- 70% less acidification potential
- 26% reduced eutrophication potential (soil erosion)
- 91% reduced blue water consumption (see TE LCA report for details)
- 62% reduced primary energy demand
After evaluating fiber usage for our 2015 E P&L Report, we’re happy to report that organic cotton use is up compared to last year, making up 3.7% of our total cotton use.
bluesign® Approved Fabrics
In line with our parent company’s sustainability target of “Ensuring all hazardous chemicals have been phased out and eliminated from our production by 2020” we continue to offer more and more bluesign® approved fabrics in our line – especially the Snow line. The bluesign® system is the solution for a sustainable textile production. It eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production.
Reduce, Reuse, ReVolcom
What started as a way for us to put the vinyl banners from our surf events to new use, allowing them a new life rather than ending up in the landfill, has become a bit of a small movement. The Reduce, Reuse, ReVolcom concept is about taking Volcom items that have had a prior life and putting them to new use: ReVolcom-izing them. Here in North America we offered a collection of items including boardbags, totes, and iPad cases made from Volcom Pipe Pro banners during a fundraising drive for Surfrider Foundation and in Japan the team put old fabric scraps to use by making Stone throw pillows for their retail accounts.
We know that GHG emissions are a serious issue and as we work towards reducing them across our global operations we are excited to take a step forward in our commitment to renewable energy with the Volcom Pipe Houses at the world famous Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of O’ahu running on solar energy, thanks to our solar partner Rising Sun Solar. You too, can become sponsored by the sun!
Running events is quite the undertaking and there’s no shortage of areas to focus on when it comes to environmental impacts. Our biggest event each year is the Volcom Pipe Pro and since 2012 it has been deemed a Deep Blue Surf Event™ (DBSE) by the non-profit organization Sustainable Surf whose mission is to be the catalyst that transforms surf culture into a powerful force for protecting the ocean playground.
Volcom holds the distinct honor for receiving the first, official Deep Blue Surf Event certification back in 2012 at the Volcom Fiji Pro. Since then the Volcom Pipe Pro continues its roll while the TCT Champs came on board this year as well. See our DBSE Reports at: http://sustainablesurf.org/contests/
Sustainability at our HQ
From our supply chain to our HQ we are doing everything we can to reduce our environmental impact. It all adds up and if you were to tour our main campuses here is what you will find:
- Waste: On Site Recycling – A Single-Stream recycling program in partnership with Waste Management has recycle bins throughout, while bigger scale cardboard balers handle all the boxes that are ready for recycling at HQ and at the N. America Distribution Center. You’ll find a Waste to Waves collection box on site as well, to ensure that Styrofoam is going back into surfboards, and not into the landfill.
- Energy: LEDs and CFL mix is featured at our global HQ building with light sensors all throughout. Additionally, our retail team is committed to not building a new store without at least a +50 % LED mix in them.
- Water: Our global HQ is outfitted with low-flow water fixtures in all bathrooms and landscaping is low-water, drip system irrigated.
- Bike Share Program: Four bikes on site at Volcom HQ to encourage a ride to lunch, with new bike racks being installed in 2016!
- Sustainable By Design Monthly Contest: We encourage employees by offering monthly rewards for sustainability efforts at the office, or at home! A winner each month.