The cotton used in Timberland apparel during the third quarter was 79 percent organic, either of U.S. origin or Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)-certified. This figure represents an improvement from 58 percent last year but also a dip from the 87 percent announced by the company earlier this year. Timberland, a brand of VF Corp., admitted there are still some challenges in utilizing recycled, organic or renewable (ROR) materials.
Around 94 percent of the leather used in the third quarter came from tanneries rated as silver or gold by the Leather Working Group (LWG), the multi-stakeholder group seeking to align environmental priorities across the leather manufacturing industry. This figure compares to the 99 percent reported in mid-2016. In the third quarter, Timberland used 84 percent ROR materials in its shoes, the same level as last year. In 2011, Timberland used 35 percent ROR materials in its shoes.
The brand has set strict targets for 2020. By that date, all cotton used in its apparel must come from organic, U.S. or BCI-certified sources, and the leather it uses must come from tanneries LWG silver or gold rated. Also, all footwear must include at least one component that contains ROR content by 2020.
Timberland is also working to reduce the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in footwear. During the third quarter, the average use of VOCs per pair was 52 grams, a 4 percent improvement from the same period last year. Progress was made thanks to increased material pre-treatment processes, better containment of VOC adhesives to prevent evaporation, and the upgrade of VOC application equipment. The 2020 target is 42 grams of VOCs per pair. The company continues to work with suppliers to identify lower VOC adhesion methods that still grant the necessary performance.
Among Timberland's suppliers, 17 new factories were selected during the third quarter to make Timberland products. Two of these factories were rated Accepted, 13 were rated Developmental, and two were rated Pending Rejection. The factories rated Pending Rejection have six months to develop corrective actions and after being re-audited, they could evolve into Approved to make Timberland products.