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How sustainable is American Apparel ?

American Apparel & sustainability


American Apparel
Dont buy Click here for score rapport: 4 out of 31

Sustainability summary

American Apparel has achieved the E-label. American Apparel has earned it by communicating hardly any concrete about the policies for environment, carbon emissions or labor conditions. For us as consumers, it is unclear whether American Apparel is committed to sustainability or not.

Brand owner: Gildan Activewear Inc.
Head office: Los Angeles, California, USA
Sector: Casual clothing
Categories : Male, Female, Kids, Baby
Free Tags: Bags, Shirts, Pullover, Jeans, Dress, Shoes, Boots

What's your sustainability news about American Apparel?

American Apparel sustainability score report

Last edited: 21 April 2017 by Mario
Last reviewed: 21 April 2017 by Mario

Questions about Climate Change/ Carbon Emissions

1 out of 6
1. Is there a policy for the brand to minimize, reduce or compensate carbon emissions? American Apparel implements several measures to minimize, reduce or compensate greenhouse gas emissions, such as the use of solar panels and the shipping of goods via excess space on passenger flights and busses. Source
2. Has the brand (company) disclosed the annual absolute carbon footprint of its 'own operations' (Scope 1 & 2) and has the brand already reduced or compensated 10% of these emissions in the last 5 years? Although American Apparel states it has a smaller climate footprint than its competitors, the company does not publicly provide the details of this carbon footprint (or where to find it) on its website. Source
3. Is at least 50% of the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? American Apparel reports to use 15% renewable energy on total electricity consumption. This was generated by the brand's own solar panels. Source
4. Is all the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? See remark for carbon emissions policy question 3. Source
5. Has the brand (company) set a target to reduce its absolute ‘own operations’ carbon emissions by at least 20% within the next 5 years? American Apparel does not communicate any information on target reductions for its greenhouse gas emissions. Source
6.  Does the brand (company) also have a policy to reduce/compensate carbon emissions generated from the product supply chain that is beyond own operations (Scope 3)? American Apparel does not communicate a policy to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in the production chain that is beyond own operations. Source

Questions about Environmental Policy

1 out of 12
1. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 5% of its volume? American Apparel has an 'Organic Collection' made from 100% USDA Certified Organic and pesticide free cotton. Furthermore, American Apparel states its always looking for more ecologically sound materials. Nonetheless, it is not clear what percentage of the total volume this represent. Source
2. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 10% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
3. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 25% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
4. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 50% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
5. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 75% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
6. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 90% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
7. Is there a policy for the brand (company) to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures to make the clothes and footwear? The production of American Apparel's clothing is GOTS certified, which means that high standards are maintained for suitable chemical use and water policies during production. This certification is applicable to some products of its entire collection. Source
8. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least one suspect chemical group, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? Although some of American Apparel's collection GOTS is certified, it remains unclear whether the target chemical groups can be considered as entirely eliminated from the production of American Apparel's entire garment production. Source
9. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least three suspect chemical groups, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? See remark for environmental policy question 8. Source
10. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize the environmental impact of its shipping packaging and carrier bags, by reducing, re-using, recycling and responsible sourcing of packaging materials, and does the brand annually report on these results? American Apparel doesn't report on the annual results of its consumer packaging policy. Source
11. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize waste, by reducing, re-using and recycling, and does the brand annually report the results? American Apparel implements several measures to minimize the environmental impact of its waste, like using recycled fiber yarns, and estimates (effective by 2014), that per week on average 125,000 lbs of textile and 25,000 lbs of paper, plastic and cardboard is recycled. This is almost all their manufacturing waste. But, more recent figures are not published. Source
12. Does the brand (company) encourage the return or re-use of garments? American Apparel doesn't report whether the return or re-use of garments by its customers is encouraged. Source

Questions about Labour Conditions/ Fair Trade

2 out of 13
1. Does the brand (company) have a supplier Code of Conduct (CoC) which includes the following standards: No forced or slave labor, no child labor, no discrimination of any kind and a safe and hygienic workplace? American Apparel provides a Code of Conduct (CoC), but this is not a supplier CoC. Furthermore, regarding its own operations in the US, this CoC does not meet all required standards. Source
2. Does this CoC include at least two of the following workers rights: 1. to have a formally registered employment relationship 2. to have a maximum working week of 48 hours with voluntary and paid overtime of 12 hours maximum 3. to have a sufficient living wage? See remark for labor conditions policy question 1. Source
3. Does this Code of Conduct include the right for workers to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively; and in those situations where these rights are restricted under law, the right to facilitate parallel means of independent and free association and bargaining? See remark for labor conditions policy question 1. Source
4. Does the brand (company) have a published list of direct suppliers, that have collectively contributed to more than 90% of the purchase volume? American Apparel communicates it is vertically integrated. This means manufacturing, distribution, marketing, accounting, design and retail are under the same roof (in LA). The company controls almost every step of the production chain. Source
5. Is the brand (company) a member of a collective initiative that aims to improve labor conditions, or does the brand (company) purchase its supplies from accredited factories with improved labor conditions? American Apparel refers to the certification scheme GOTS (which also includes social standards), but it is not clear what percentage of annual volume is certified. Source
6. Do independent civil society organizations like NGO's and labor unions have a decisive voice in this collective initiative or in these certification schemes? American Apparel does not communicate any information about being part of a collective initiative or purchasing from an accredited supplier, on its website. Source
7. Is there a policy for the brand (company) for capacity building at the apparel manufacturers for improved labour practices? American Apparel does not report whether measures at its (supplying) production facilities are implemented to achieve improved labour practices with respect to product and / or production process quality. Source
8. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy? Is at least 90% of the brands production volume from apparel manufacturers monitored for labour conditions? American Apparel does not publicly report clear results of its implemented measures to improve labor conditions at its (supplying) factories. Source
9. Is at least 25% of the production volume from apparel manufacturers approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FWF, GOTS or SA8000? Although of American Apparel's collection is GOTS certified, it remains unclear whether at least 25% of the production volume is verified as compliant against the standards from eligible third parties or certification schemes, such as SA8000 or GOTS. Source
10. Is at least 50% of the production volume from apparel manufacturers approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FWF, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 9. Source
11. Does the brand (company) implement a policy to establish the payment of living wages at its apparel manufacturers? Are at least first living wage payments realised? American Apparel reports to pay 12-14$ per hour for its factory workers in California, which is clearly above the minimum wage level in California (10,50$ in 2017). Source
12. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy for the fabric manufacturing phases, including a reasonable overview of the number and region of workplaces covered by the policy in relation to the total production volume? American Apparel does not publicly report clear results of its implemented measures to improve labor conditions at its fabric manufacturers. Source
13. Are at least 50% of the fabric manufacturing phases - from spinning to final fabric - approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FLO-Cert, GOTS or SA8000? It remains unclear whether at least 50% of the production volume of American Apparel's fabric manufacturing is verified as compliant against the standards from eligible third parties or certification schemes, such as GOTS. Source