Sustainability 2013 - 2016 Progress Report Update
Volcom’s New Future
In 2013, we went out to you and our endemic press with a vision of what we wanted to accomplish in terms of sustainability here at Volcom. We boldly aligned with our parent company, Kering and embarked on a journey to further strengthen our existing program. Three years later, we’re happy to report that we’ve made progress.
Some targets saw more progress than others, but all in all, we’ve seen positive momentum and to say the least, have learned a lot. With three iterations of the much-lauded E P&L under our belt, it’s time now to embark on our newly crafted and refined New Future Roadmap with our new sustainability partner, The Underswell. Stay tuned for frequent updates.
Read more about each of our commitments and their progress, as well as our new 3-year vision.
Sustainability at Volcom – The Vision Then, and a Look at How We Did
While our journey began a few years prior, it was 2013 when we came to you, our extended Volcom family, with an outline of sustainability commitments. Looking back now, these were really a set of challenges to ourselves; challenges we knew, if achieved, would help further strengthen the budding program we were building. Nonetheless, we felt it was important to put these expectations out there to the press, the public, and you, thus holding ourselves accountable to what we were striving to achieve.
These commitments had a 2016 target date...we’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but acknowledge there’s a long way to go. Have a look at how we did and where we’re going below.
Our 2016 Sustainability Vision, as presented in April 2013:
- Adopt and Utilize the E PL&L (Environmental Profit & Loss) Impact Management Tool
- Reduce Volcom’s Carbon Emissions, Waste and Water Usage by 25%
- Eliminate PVC from Volcom Products
- Source Paper and Packaging Material from Recycled Sources and/or Certified Responsibly Managed Forests
- Increase the Amount of Sustainable Material & Processes in Volcom’s Product Mix
- Certify Volcom’s Major Surf Events as Deep Blue Surfing Events™
- Continue Give Backs to Community-Based Programs
A Look Back at the Vision and the Targets: How We Did
Goal: The Environmental Profit & Loss
This has been one of the marquee initiatives of our sustainability commitments, and in 2013 we embarked on our first report measuring the impact of Volcom products across our entire supply chain using the manufacturing data we collected in 2012. In fact, we’ve just recently wrapped up our 2015 E P&L, the 3rditeration of the annual report measuring previous year’s data
The benefit of adopting the E P&L is that it allows us to make better New Future decisions since it gives us a clear understanding of where our biggest impacts are occurring. Additionally, it translates these impacts into the language of business: dollars. To see the full details on what an E P&L is, and how and why it was developed, please click here
Goal: Reducing Emissions, Waste and Water
Status: A Work in Progress
You’d think this would be the low hanging fruit, right? We’ll, there’s a catch with this target. It’s one thing to control the water use at your facilities (we don’t use much), and to reduce, reuse and recycle at your offices and stores. It’s another thing to address the emissions that are a result of all the products we produce, and to reduce the amount of waste that’s created and water that’s used, from the point of raw material extraction to the product shipping out of our distribution center. And that’s just what this target has come to mean.
When we initially put this target out there, we were not yet involved in E P&L accounting. We were thinking of typical environmental reporting guidelines for the sites that we own and operate, imagining that if we changed out all our lights, switched to low-flow fixtures and low-water landscaping (which we did in 2011-2012) and put a better recycling program in place (which we did), that we would be able to tackle and achieve this goal. Not so, once we adopted the E P&L management tool, the target moved considerably.
In 2016, we’re looking at the results in our E P&L to measure our impacts and now understand that upwards of 77% of our environmental impacts are occurring at the furthest back points of our supply chain. In other words, it’s how we design and source materials that will matter and really move the needle on this target. To address this, we’ll continue to work with Kering and our strategy team to revise this goal to one that is more realistic and aligned with how we’re now quantifying our impacts.
Goal: Eliminating PVC
PVC is also known as polyvinyl chloride and is often used in products that require flexibility; things like belts and bags made out material meant to simulate real leather. Why avoid PVC? PVC contains high levels of phthalates, which are charged with being carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting. These phthalates, which are not bound to the PVC in any way, are at high risk of leaching out into the environment over time.
There were a few styles in our line that contained PVC at one time, but we are glad to say as of 2016 and moving forward, PVC has been eliminated from all Volcom products.
Goal: Sustainable Paper and Packaging
We can’t imagine you’d be stoked to know that the paper that we printed on in the office, or the hangtags that were temporarily swinging from that new Volcom shirt you bought, were made from trees sourced from endangered or ancient forests. So ensuring that we move to a higher mix of certified, responsibly sourced paper with a high recycled content rate is important to us.
So how are we doing? When we look at our biggest uses: 98% of the paper that our product catalogs are printed on is FSC certified, as was 100% of the paper that made up our first in-home mailer catalog. Additionally, our biggest hangtag programs are either made with recycled content, and/or are FSC certified material and reports from our trim suppliers come back calculating 70% and more recycled content.
As for office paper, here in North America we’re at a +90% mix of certified/recycled content, and the cardboard we purchase for warehousing and shipping is at a 89% mix of FSC certified/recycled.
We are glad to report that each season, we’re seeing more and more paper products get the attention they deserve, from office paper and boxes, to hangtags and catalogs.
Goal: Sustainable Products Mix Increase
Offering more sustainable choices in our collections is one of the surest ways to express our commitment and then share it with you. At one point, we branded styles that had a sustainability feature in them with a different logo – it was called the V.Co-logical Series. We’ve since discontinued the use V.Co-logical branding as signifier of a garment featuring sustainable material, with the expectation that sustainability is something that is meant for the entire Volcom line of products.
With that said, you won’t always see sustainability pointed out on a product you get from us, but if you take the time to read the label or the description on the website, you’ll find the use of organic cotton (3.7% of all the cotton Volcom used in 2015 was organic) and recycled polyester (just over 7% of Volcom’s total polyester used in 2015 was from recycled content) occurring more and more.
Get more details on how Volcom is incorporating sustainable materials into products here.
Goal: Deep Blue Surf Events Commitment
When Sustainable Surfcame on the scene with a set of guidelines for running a more sustainable surf event, it was right in line with what we were thinking, and we jumped right on board. Since 2012, each of our most major surf events, the Fiji Pro (2012 – 2013) and the Volcom Pipe Pro have been Deep Blue Certified. Then in 2015, we then added the TCT Champs event at Lower Trestles at San Onofre State Beach in San Diego County, California
as another Deep Blue Surf Event in our portfolio.Since working with Sustainable Surf, we’ve offset over 2500 Mt of CO2 through verified, mostly Wildlife Works REDD+, programs allowing us to be a part of protecting threatened forests while providing sustainable development opportunities to local forest communities mainly in the Kasigau corridor in Kenya. To put it in perspective, this is the equivalent of eliminating 526 passenger cars being driven in North America for a year!
Goal: Give Back Programs Maintained
Our Give Backseries launched in 2009 when we offered a t-shirt in which a portion of the proceeds of each sale were donated to TACA (Talk About Curing Autism) to raise awareness around autism. Since then, we’ve partnered with many organizations to do the same; from breast cancer education and prevention (Boarding For Breast Cancer) and music in schools (Fender Music Foundation) to youth mentoring (STOKED and Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii). Happy to report, the program is alive and well. 2015 saw our continued our support of the Mauli Ola Foundation with launch of our second Give Backwith them, as well as a new partner in the Dan Eldon/Creative Visions Foundation. 2015 also marked Volcom’s 5thyear in working with Boarding For Breast Cancer to create a range of Snow products that includes a Give Backto B4BC.
Since its inception, the Give Back Series has generated over $650,000for our non-profit partners and other community initiatives.
In conclusion: While there’s always room for improvement, we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished since that commitment back in 2013. However, a long journey is still ahead of us.
New Future: A Look Ahead – The 2020 Roadmap
Having reflected back on 2015 and recalling all the great stories we were able to create in the years past, we turn our attention now, to the future.
We spent much of the last 12 months focused on building a New Future Roadmap that could guide us in a meaningful way, closer and closer to our Sustainability targets. We’ve learned where our impacts occur, and what drives them, and it’s time to aggressively address them.
What drives us? This was the question we asked ourselves when considering the foundation of our environmental sustainability commitments – for us, the answer was clear:
Strong Oceans + Stable Climate + Smart Society
Strong Oceans– When our oceans are weak, we do not thrive as a species, period. Plus, we like surfing.
Stable Climate– It’s no secret: as climate becomes more and more erratic and unpredictable, the planning of our business, and enjoyment of our sports, becomes that much more difficult. And this is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended).
Smart Society– It takes us all contributing to this New Future. Support of renewables, better recycling, emissions awareness & management, water conservation, strong land management, awareness of biodiversity issues...it’s up to all of us to play a part.
To support these drivers, we’ve built, and will go forward focusing on, the three pillars of what has already become our New Future program:
Responsible Manufacturing + Giving Back + Impact Evaluation
Responsible Manufacturing starts with our P.A.S.S (Product And Social Safety) Program – Ensuring our products are built responsibly and in compliance with the highest global standards. Starting with our Fair Labor Association Membership.
Giving Back – The Volcom Give Back Series continues to support and bring awareness to organizations meaningful to our stakeholders (that’s you, that’s us).
Impact Evaluation – The Environmental Profit & Loss allows us to measure and monitor the costs of environmental changes associated with our business, and then zero in on the areas that need the most attention.
2020 New Future Roadmap and Targets
Now at the 2016 mark, it’s time for us to revisit the targets we had set in 2013. With good lessons learned, and solid metrics to use we’re challenging ourselves with goals that we believe are realistic and achievable.
Our Focus then, moving forward:
- Fiber Sourcing– Recycled Content & Better Cotton
- New Future Messaging– Like volcom.com/sustainability
- New Future Education & Training at all levels of the company
- A Take Back x Give Back program to address our EPR (extended producer responsibility) and Community Give Back initiative
These areas of focus are, of course, not the only things we’ll be working on in the coming years, but they are what we believe to be marquee initiatives that will help push our E P&L results lower, and help continue to engrain New Future thinking into the fabric of the brand and our extended family.
Recall that from our E P&L findings, upwards of 77% of our environmental impacts come from deep within our supply chain: raw material sourcing and processing. For Volcom, the two fibers that matter the most are cotton and polyester, so that’s where our priorities landed:
We are committing to show a continued increase in the amount of recycled content in our products and organic and/or better* cotton. By the end of 2020, our goal is to report that:
- 20% of the total amount of our polyester & nylon usage will come from recycled content.
- 20% of the total amount of our cotton usage will come from organic, recycled, and/or other better cotton profiles.
*For us, better cotton might consist of organic, recycled, CMiA, BCI, or other cotton sources with an improved environmental and social impact.
New Future Messaging:
Up until this point, we admit, it’s been a little difficult for those interested, to learn about our sustainability program in a concise manner. There’s been a separate New Future blog and facebook page, and the occasional post on our website, but our goal is to share our journey with you on a regular basis. As we’ve said before, we’re building New Future into the brand – start to finish – so that means in our marketing messages too. You’ve seen the pre-cursor to it, but by the end of 2016, our goal is to report to you that:
- Volcom’s New Future story will be prominently featured on the home page with expanded info on the Vision, the Roadmap, and general running news.
Education & Training
A successful program will entail that each of us here at Volcom is equipped with the language of sustainability. While we all operate in different functions, we’re all working towards the same New Future goals. Hence, we’re crafting an internal certification program that will roll out in phases, and eventually become a mainstay of our employee education program; applicable to all levels of employment at Volcom. So, by the end of 2017, our goal is to report to you that:
- All of our executives and all levels of managers will have been internally, New Future certified, and at least 75% of our employees will have begun their certification process.
- By the end of 2018, it will be a standard, and at least 90% of Volcom employees will have either been certified or will have started their certification process.
Take Back x Give Back
We’re proud of the giving back we’ve been able to do through our event partnerships and through our Give Back Series and we’ve also had great response to our Give Jeans a Chance Program over the years. So what better way to address our extended producer responsibility by combining it with a Give Back?
We implemented a take back program a few years ago as a pilot and with end of life (after you are done with your Volcom products) becoming more and more of a concern, we’re committed to taking some responsibility for the goods that we put out into the market. Thus, by the end of 2018, our goal is to report to you that:
- A new campaign will be in place globally, allowing Volcom-collected A-grade products to be donated to community groups in need, cycled back into the global market, and/or set aside for recycling in a closed loop manner.
In Partnership – A New Journey with The Underswell
With this more narrowed focus, we take a new turn: Derek Sabori, our former VP of Sustainability, has been key to many of these sustainability efforts mentioned here and now, after more than 19 years with the brand, Derek is branching out to pursue a new challenge by applying his passion for sustainability beyond Volcom.
His newly formed firm, The Underswell will serve as Volcom’s Sustainability Advisor & Accelerator and will also be open to help other groups, organizations and personalities in their sustainability journeys. Derek will continue to coordinate the brand’s sustainability efforts, especially when it comes to this continuously evolving sustainability roadmap.
“It’s up to us now, as a company to truly adopt and embrace sustainability as a tenant of our business, as a core value, and as a brand differentiating opportunity. I’m looking forward to the further strengthening of what we will continue to call our New Future program, but for now, we’re welcoming Derek to his new role and wishing him the best as he starts a new chapter.” – Todd Hymal CEO [to be approved]
Check back often for updates on our journey...we’re looking forward to it. Hope you are too.