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How sustainable is The North Face ?

The North Face & sustainability


The North Face
Dont buy Click here for score rapport: 5 out of 36

Sustainability summary

The North Face has achieved the E-label, because only a little information is published about a policy on sustainability. It is hard to see the effort The North Face is making on sustainability. Therefore, more policy and transparency is needed.

Brand owner: VF Corporation
Head office: Alameda, CA, USA
Sector: Sport & outdoor - clothing & shoes
Categories : Male, Female, Kids
Free Tags: VFC, Bags, Caps, Shirts, Pullover, Jackets, Jeans, Dress, Shoes, Boots

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The North Face sustainability score report

Last edited: 1 May 2017 by Mario
Last reviewed: 1 May 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? The North Face implements several measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as using renewable electricity at its stores, headquarter and office buildings. 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? The North Face publishes its climate footprint from US operations (6,206 metric tons of CO2e), and from 2013 only. Brand owner VFC has reduced its total climate footprint of own operations from 263,485 tons of CO2e in 2013 to 258,815 tons of CO2e in 2015. This represents a decrease of around 1.8% (see link, "Climate Change 2014 & 2016 Response”). Source
3. Is at least 50% of the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? The North Face reports on the use of renewable energy for its own operations, but is not clear about the proportion related to its total electricity consumption. Source
4. Does 100% of the electricity that the brand (company) uses for its ‘own operations’ come 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? VFC does not communicate up to date target reductions for its absolute climate footprint of own operations. 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)? VFC evaluates the climate impacts of its contracted factories, and is working to increase awareness of carbon use in its supplier base. But, for the time being VFC does not publish clear results, which include emission reductions achieved. Source

Questions about Environmental Policy

3 out of 16
1. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 5% of its volume? Neither band owner VFC nor The North Face communicate concrete results on the total use of preferred raw materials, such as organic cotton or recycled polyester for The North Faces' products (see also link at next question). 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. Does the brand have a clear and effective policy to avoid the use of leather that originates from cattle farms in deforestated Amazone areas? VFC does not communicate a policy to prevent the destruction of rainforest caused by cattle farm expansion for leather production. Source
8. Does the brand (company) have a clear and effective policy to minimize environmental pollution of chromium and other harmful substances from leather tanning processes, e.g. by waste water treatment or by vegetable tanning? Concerning The North Face products VFC does not openly communicate a policy to limit chromium and other harmful substances pollution caused by leather tanning processes (see also link at previous question). Source
9. Is there a policy for the brand (company) to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle and all production procedures to make the clothing and footwear? The North Face clothing is bluesign® certified. This means that during production high environmental standards maintained for chemical and water use. This certification is applicable to some products of the collection. Source
10. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least one suspect chemical group, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? The North Face communicates to be in the process of eliminating suspect chemical groups. But, it remains unclear whether or not at least one suspect chemical group, such as Phthalates or Perfluorinated chemicals can be considered entirely eliminated from the production of The North Face entire garment production. Source
11. 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 10. Source
12. Does the brand (company) have a clear target to phase out PVC in their products, and has the brand already achieved a PVC phase out level of more than 90%? VFC supports efforts to find acceptable alternatives to PVC use in all products, with the ultimate objective being a comprehensive prohibition on all PVC use. But, VFC does not specify whether a phase out of PVC in The North Face products can be considered realized in the meantime (see link, page 24 & 54). Source
13. Has the brand (company) a clear and effective policy to minimize the use of solvents based chemicals in their shoe production, and has the brand already achieved a level of average max. 40 grams of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emissions per pair of shoes? VFC does mention VOC's in their restricted chemical substance list. However, it is unclear what reduction levels are achieved for the footwear production (see link, page 18). Source
14. 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? VFC implements sustainability purchasing criteria for its packaging materials. However, concrete aggregate results regarding its packaging materials footprint are not made public. Source
15. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize waste, by reducing, re-using and recycling, and does the brand annually report the results? Vans does not report on the specific annual results of its waste reduction policy. However, brand owner VFC implements several measures to reduce its waste streams and reports on its aggregate annual waste material footprint (more than 69,965 metric tons annually). Source
16. Does the brand (company) encourage the return or re-use of garments? The North Face offers a garment collection system in its stores. Source

Questions about Labour Conditions/ Fair Trade

1 out of 14
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? All standards are mentioned in VF Corporation's Global Compliance Principles. 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? 1. Not mentioned; 2. No, maximum working week of 60 hours, not clear whether overtime is voluntary and 'except under extraordinary business circumstances', which can mean anything; 3. No, mention of minimum legal or the prevailing industry wage, not living wage. 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? Freedom of association is mentioned, but nothing found about situations in which this right is restricted by law. Source
4. Does this labour conditions policy also apply further down the production chains, at least covering the leather production or the animal farms? VFC does not make clear if the Global Compliance Principles and consequent labour conditions policy also applies further down the footwear production chain, such as leather tanning or cattle farms (see also link at previous question). Source
5. Does the brand (company) have a published list of direct suppliers, that have collectively contributed to more than 90% of the purchase volume? VFC does not provide a significant list of direct suppliers. Source
6. 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? VFC participates in a number of MSI's, such as FLA (but as a Category B Licensee only) and Social Accountability International (SAI / SA8000). However, VFC does not specify what percentage of factories/annual volume is certified. Source
7. Do independent civil society organizations like NGO's and labor unions have a decisive voice in this collective initiative or in these certification schemes? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
8. Is there a policy for the brand (company) for capacity building at the apparel manufacturers for improved labour practices? VFC implements its 'The Third Way' programme at strategic suppliers to improve labour practices, and for instance, to decrease absenteeism of workers. Results such as improved efficiency by 23% for cutting, 41% for sewing and 52% for finishing and product defects decreased by 8.5%, but not with respect to improved labour conditions itself. Source
9. 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? VFC communicates to audit all its 1st tier suppliers (such as sewing, cutting, embroidery, screen-print, laundry). However, the provided information about audit results are not specific enough. Source
10. 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? See remark for labor conditions policy question 9. Source
11. 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
12. 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? VFC reports to work closely with NGO partners, factory owners and workers to advance living wages and safer, more efficient production practices for long-term success. However, clear results of the respective measures are not yet reported. Source
13. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy for the leather, yarn and fabric production phases, including a reasonable overview of the number and region of workplaces covered by the policy in relation to the total production volume? VFC states to audit all its 2nd tier suppliers (such as fabric mills or tanneries) but does not report on results of its labour conditions policy for the fabric manufacturing phases. Source
14. Are at least 50% of the brand's leather, yarn and fabric production phases approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FLO-Cert, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 13. Source