KPI: Products with Environmentally-Preferred Materials
This measures the number of product styles sold – both MEC-brand and non-MEC-brand – that have one or more of the following attributes:
- PVC free (PVC eliminated from products that would typically contain PVC)
- Recycled content (e.g., nylon, polyester; at least 50% of materials are recycled)
- Organically grown cotton content (at least 50% of materials are organically grown cotton)
- Bluesign® approved material content (at least 50% of materials are bluesign approved)
- Repurposed content (at least 50% of materials are derived from "scrap materials" otherwise slated to be landfilled)
Our goal is to eliminate unnecessary environmental harm in how our products are made and used. For 2012, our target was simply to increase the number of products (that we make or buy) with these attributes.
In 2012, 406 styles of MEC-brand products and 318 styles of non-MEC brand-products were made with environmentally preferred materials, for a total of 724 product styles (up from 644 in 2011). Learn more about our efforts here.
Products with Environmentally Preferred Materials (#)
One challenge we're facing is determining the credibility of material sustainability content claims. This requires a robust traceability program with increased transparency in our supply chain, and established checkpoints to validate claims. Admittedly, this is a challenging feat in our industry, as few verification standards and systems currently exist. That said, we're committed to improving our ability to validate claims, and being transparent along the way.
Progress to date includes:
- PVC free: MEC has a high degree of confidence that materials specified as "PVC free" by suppliers meet this claim. PVC content can readily be verified through 3rd-party testing.
- Recycled content: We currently rely on our suppliers to provide information for validation of recycled content claims. In many cases 3rd-party certification of recycled content is not yet available, but we're working on improved transparency and means of verification.
- Organically grown cotton: Third-party certification standards and systems exist for organically grown cotton. However, transaction certificates for chain of custody beyond the yarn spinning stage are not readily available as part of our existing supply chain. We have transparency of our supply chain for the majority of our organically grown cotton products, but are still establishing systems, in collaboration with our suppliers and industry, to obtain transaction certificates to the finished product stage. We're trying to close any information gaps through closer communication with our suppliers.
- Bluesign® approved material: Traceability of bluesign approved materials is achieved through the bluesign certification process. Each approved material has a certificate of authenticity which meets our chain of custody requirements for traceability.
In our last report, we said that we would refine our measurements and set a target for environmentally preferred materials by 2012. We haven't done so yet, but are embarking on setting a benchmark in 2013. This will include better systems for measuring environmental attributes of MEC-brand products, and working with product managers and our design team to assess performance in each of our product categories. For non-MEC brand products, we'll start to engage our wholesale brand suppliers in conversations regarding our preference for environmentally preferable products, among other criteria. Finally, we'll aim to make progress in improving our systems for assuring supply chain sustainability claims.