- Lululemon targets 100% renewable electricity to power business operations by 2021 and to halve single-use plastic packaging by 2025
- Nike and Adidas are driving sustainable innovation across the sector while Unilever, L’Oreal and Amazon launch similar eco-friendly initiatives in response to consumer demand
- Environmental pledges follow America’s controversial withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change
VANCOUVER, Canada — Athleisure giant Lululemon Athletica Inc. has released its first-ever Impact Agenda, outlining 12 commitments to address a range of global issues including diversity, inclusion, mental wellbeing, circularity and climate change.
The NASDAQ-listed company detailed its long-term strategy to become a more sustainable and equitable business, to minimise its environmental impact and accelerate positive change both internally and externally.
Lululemon has also pledged to invest $75 million into equitable wellbeing programmes globally by 2025, expand gender pay equity to full pay equity for its employees by 2022 and make 100% of its products from sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030.
The Canadian company also listed ambitious environmental targets, including to source 100% renewable electricity to power business operations by 2021, reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2030, and halve the use of single-use plastic packaging and freshwater to manufacture products by 2025.
“Lululemon has a unique opportunity, responsibility and platform to drive meaningful change,” said Calvin McDonald, Chief Executive Officer.
“We share our Impact strategy against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, a global climate crisis, and systemic inequities in our society. As a global brand, industry, and as individuals, we must play a part to change the world for the better.”
“Move to Zero”
Lululemon’s inclusive and sustainability initiatives follow those of other sportswear companies and retailers across the industry.
Last year Nike launched its “Move to Zero” sustainability plan, building upon existing efforts to fight climate change, including aiming to power facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2025 and operate with net-zero carbon emissions.
“The Move to Zero mission isn’t about a single product, a couple of partnerships, or a bunch of corporate targets,” said Nike’s chief sustainability officer Noel Kinder. “It’s really a reflection of the longstanding, quiet commitment that we’ve had around sustainability and the journey that we see going forward.”
According to its annual impact report, released in February, the company has now:
- Increased vice president representation of women and underrepresented groups by 3% and 2% respectively
- Is powering all its owned or operated facilities in North America with 100% renewable energy
- Is on track to reach its goal of using 100% renewable energy in owned or operated facilities globally by 2025
In September, German sportswear rival Adidas responded with the launch of a new fully vegan, eco-friendly Clean Classics line, redesigned to reduce the brand’s impact on the environment.
The company is also collaborating with rapper Kanye West to create a sustainable algae-based shoe prototype produced from hemp and cotton, and in May announced it was teaming up with New Zealand footwear brand Allbirds in a bid to “create the lowest carbon footprint ever recorded for a sports performance shoe”.
Adidas has committed to a 30% reduction in its carbon footprint by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2050 as part of its End Plastic Waste initiative.
Elsewhere, consumer goods giant Unilever recently announced plans to halve its use of “virgin plastic by 2025, having converted 10% of its plastic footprint to more sustainable post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR).
In June, global beauty brand L’Oréal announced 100% of its packaging would be recycled or from bio-based sources by 2030, and allocated €150 million to “address urgent social and environmental issues” as part of its new sustainability program “L’Oréal for the future”.
And e-commerce colossus Amazon has become the latest retailer to signpost more sustainable products on its site, launching a Climate Pledge Friendly filter for shoppers in Europe.
The feature will enable consumers to filter their searches by beauty, fashion, food, electronics and household products so that only those which meet certain sustainability certificates will be included.
The Paris Climate Agreement
These environmental pledges, in particular, are especially timely, given that on 5th November, two days after the US presidential election, America officially left the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Donald Trump had announced his intention to withdraw from the international forum in 2017. In response, Democratic candidate Joe Biden tweeted that “in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it”.
Under a Biden administration, the US is expected to have the most progressive position on climate change in the nation’s history, with a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and strict carbon tariffs on imports.
But, with Congress expected to be at an impasse, divided between a blue House of Representatives and red Senate, the onus will be on private corporations to draw up and honour environmental pledges.
With leading wellness companies such as Lululemon paving the way at this critical time for the health of our planet, it is hoped the brand’s efforts will raise standards in its respective sectors, and hold big business accountable.
Lululemon’s McDonald added: “Our Impact Agenda is more than a set of commitments. It’s a holistic approach that reflects who we are, guided by our purpose to elevate the world by realising the full potential within every one of us.”