American Eagle Looking at Uzbekistan Cotton – Sourcing Journal

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American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. is stepping up efforts to produce more sustainable denim and said it exceeded its water reduction goals two years ahead of its original target date.

The company’s transition to resource-efficient denim processing has saved more than 3.5 billion gallons of water since 2017, the owner of American Eagle and Aerie detailed in its first governance report. environmental social (ESG) published last week. So far, it has reduced its water consumption by an average of 36% per pair of jeans produced, aiming for 50% by 2023.

American Eagle’s ESG strategy focuses on mitigating the environmental impact of its portfolio of denim products and materials. The company credits the Water Leadership program it established in 2017 to set expectations for denim mills and weaving mills around wastewater, water recycling and chemical management for accelerate more efficient textile processing. The platform scores each Tier 1 and Tier 2 supplier based on their progress so the company can direct new business to the highest-rated producers.

“We are working with key laundries to implement new technologies and equipment that significantly reduce overall water requirements for finishing and washing garments, reducing the amount to be discharged,” he said. “Our manufacturers and laundries have made investments to develop new approaches and install computer-controlled washing machines that use a fraction of the water used by conventional washers, as well as other technologies such as nebulization.”

Many laundries have implemented Jeanologia’s Environmental Impact Monitoring (EIM), which assesses water consumption, energy consumption, chemical use and worker health. This year, the company is able to recycle 45% of the water used in denim processing. Its 42 laundries and dry cleaners and 56 fabric mills undergo annual wastewater testing to track improvements.

“AEO’s inaugural ESG Report underscores our commitment to building a better world, ensuring greater transparency, communication, standardized reporting and, most importantly, outlining our goals for continuous improvement,” the CEO said. Jay Schottenstein. “We take deliberate steps to protect our planet, care for our people, and operate with the highest level of integrity through best practices.”

According to Schottenstein, the company is also “expanding the use of sustainable materials in our products, identified by our Real Good label.” The badge, applied to all American Eagle product lines, indicates the use of environmentally friendly fibers such as recycled polyester made from plastic bottles, recycled nylon or sustainably sourced cotton. More than 95% of American Eagle jeans fall under the Real Good category, while 50% of combined American Eagle and Aerie products carry the badge.

“We’ve made great strides in expanding Real Good across assortments and brands, and we’ll continue to raise the bar as we strive to make products our customers love while minimizing our impact on the environment. “said President and Executive Creative Director Jennifer Foyle. , who oversees design for American Eagle and Aerie.

Aerie’s best-selling Sunnie bra of 2021 was made from recycled nylon, while the swimwear collection also includes recycled nylon and recycled polyester. Aerie Play leggings contain recycled polyester from First Mile, which sources plastic waste from Haiti, Honduras and Taiwan to support income generation for local people.

American Eagle designates more than half of its overall offering as Real Good for its use of responsibly sourced and recycled content. Cotton, polyester and man-made cellulosic fibers (MMCF) account for 82% by weight of materials used in its range, with cotton accounting for 57% of material consumption.

“Using materials that reduce environmental impact is key to meeting our water, carbon and waste reduction goals,” said Vice President of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability Michelle Tarry. . The company is committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton and MMCFs more sustainably by next year through continued partnerships with Better Cotton and Canopy, the latter working with brands to help to preserve vital forests.

By the start of the 2023 school year, the company aims to have all of its denim jeans made with BCI cotton or sustainably sourced recycled cotton, she added. American Eagle launched its partnership with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign Project in 2021, releasing four styles of organic cotton jeans. Easily removable material has been used to ensure that the products can be recycled at the end of their useful life. This partnership will continue as the company explores new ways to make its jeans more sustainable and recyclable while ensuring material traceability and health.

The brand also partners with organizations that promote circularity or end-of-life solutions for used clothing and textile waste. New York-based Fabscrap collects, sorts and shreds post-production fabric scraps for use in industrial materials such as insulation, while Cotton Inc.’s Blue Jeans Go Green program allows consumers to return their used denim through the mail or to stores for recycling. . Since partnering with the group in 2014, American Eagle said the partnership has recycled 569,000 pairs.

In light of geopolitical issues and changing legislation, the company reiterated its stance on cotton sourcing, stating that it fully complies with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law prohibiting the import of materials or finished products of any kind from China’s Xinjiang region, where reports of forced labor from Muslim minorities proliferate. The company also said it was banning its factories from sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan due to allegations of forced and child labor in the region. The US government banned imports of cotton products from Turkmenistan in 2018, citing human rights abuses.

While imports from Uzbekistan have not been sanctioned, American Eagle has banned its factories from sourcing raw materials from the region. According to the company, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has documented widespread improvements in labor practices in Uzbekistan. American Eagle is reassessing its position and considering using cotton from verifiable and traceable sources.

The company is a member of the ILO’s Better Work collective of industry, government and NGO stakeholders aiming to boost competitiveness across industry while improving working conditions. According to executive vice president and chief operating officer Michael Rempell, the company audits more than 300 manufacturers in 20 countries each year to ensure compliance with its code of conduct. “We are committed to defending human rights around the world, which is fundamental to living our values ​​wherever we do business,” he said.

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