PVH Corp. is a global fashion company operating in 40 countries. Its brands include Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. The company started in 1910 when it was known as the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation. Based in Manhattan, the company has 120,000 employees positioned worldwide. It is sustainable and acclaimed for ethically sourcing its materials, working to eliminate waste, and trying to eliminate its emissions.
“To truly drive this progress and ensure we remain steadfast in meeting our targets, we are working diligently to embed sustainability across our business. We are investing in new technologies, training associates to design and develop sustainable products, and scaling sustainability solutions across our value chain,” says Rick Relinger, Chief Sustainability Officer, in the company’s 2021 annual report.
The goals, established in 2019, are:
— The offices, warehouses, and stores will be powered by 100% renewable electricity, and the company seeks to reduce emissions among its suppliers by 30% by 2030. Today, it is fueling 53% of its offices with clean energy while it has achieved 93% cuts in CO2 emissions among its suppliers.
— All PVH offices, distribution centers, and stores will achieve zero waste and eliminate single-use plastics by 2030. It is now 58% of the way there.
— Three of its most commonly purchased products will be completely circular, including the traceability of critical raw materials by 2025.
Moreover, PVH aims to sustainably source all of its cotton and viscose by 2025 and to do the same for its polyester by 2030. Respectively, it is 54%, 25%, and 28% of the way there as it stands now.
What is your approach to environmental stewardship?
PVH is a progressing fashion company. It is working to generate zero waste at its business operations, zero carbon emissions, and zero hazardous chemicals. It also wants all its products to be reused or recycled. “We take a holistic approach to environmental stewardship, meaning we seek to assess our impacts across a product’s full life cycle.”
Within its operations, it is adopting energy-efficient technologies and converting to renewable energy — and by sharing that knowledge within its value chain. It will rely on long-term power purchase agreements. With that, it has tracked emissions tied to its raw materials since 2017: In 2020, these materials released 432,574 metric tons of CO2-equivalents, a 29% decrease from 2019.
— It has achieved a 58% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions across owned and operated facilities from our 2017 baseline, down 21% from 2020.
— It has derived 53% of its energy from renewable sources, an increase of 10% over 2020, achieving our interim target of 50% renewable energy usage by 2025, four years ahead of schedule.
Similarly, materials are sourced using environmental and social considerations. Materials, whether natural, synthetic, or animal-based, are tracked. To that end, last year, it deployed an approach to allow it t to scale up its use of sustainable materials. “This will build on our work to transition key product and packaging materials to sustainable alternatives, and support regenerative agricultural practices that protect animal welfare and are better for the planet.”
It’s progress? As of 2021, 44% of its total materials are sustainably sourced, up from 41% in 2020. Specifically, sustainable viscose increased from 16% to 25% between 2020 and 2021. Sustainable polyester jumped from 16% to 28%, and cotton rose from 53% to 54% during the same time.
It is also piloting circular designs — clothes that can be recycled rather than tossed in the landfill. Since 2020, PVH says 110,792 pounds of textile waste has been diverted from landfills through circularity initiatives. However, “The transition to a circular economy presents several challenges, one being the lack of knowledge about the chemical content within post-consumer recycled textiles.”
Let’s dive deeper into recycling
More than 200 million trees are cut down annually, processed with intensive chemicals, and dissolved into wood pulp, which then gets turned into fashion textiles. To end this reliance on wood, Canopy — dedicated to the world’s forests, species, and climate — is working with clothing makers to create the demand for “man-made” fibers. These alternatives also use 75% less energy and 90% less water.
“This is all predicated on the belief that we don’t need to be cutting down 500-year-old trees to make pizza boxes and T-shirts,” says Nicole Rycroft, founder and executive director of Canopy, dedicated to the world’s forests, species, and climate. “We need to displace 50% of forest fiber and have it come from lower-carbon and next-generation fiber. Innovators can use a ripped T-shirt or old hotel bedding and make that into new clothing. Consumers won’t even notice.”
According to Rycroft, the top 10 most prominent producers of forest textiles — rayon, viscose, and modal — control 80% of the global supply chain. “The retailers knew it came from wood but didn’t know it came from endangered forests. Now there is a public commitment to use recycled textiles.”
PVH is partnering with Canopy to protect endangered forests and stop illegal logging. Rainforests are carbon sinks. Making the trees worth more dead than alive is critical to the fight against climate change. That’s why PVH is working to “transform its packaging and viscose supply chains to become more forest-friendly.” PVH, however, is not part of the recycled clothing initiative that Canopy is also heading up.
Consider that most old clothing ends up in landfills. Manufacturers generate 100 billion garments annually, and at some point, 60% of that gets tossed in the trash — either by the original owners or second-hand stores like Goodwill. And landfills are the third largest source of anthropogenic CO2. Alternatively, consumers can recycle those clothes — something the European Union will require in 2025.