Back in 2017, VF Corp launched the VF Traceability Program to trace its upstream supply chain and identify the points of impact. Now, as of December 2021, it has been announced this mechanism has traced over 100 products, creating traceability maps for many of its most famous pieces, such as the Timberland® Waterproof Boot, Jansport® Big Student Backpack, Vans Slip-On, and The North Face® Nuptse Jacket.
Full traceability isn’t limited to the factories that produce the goods, it also analyzes the farms, ranch or facilities where the raw materials are grown, extracted and sourced. Within this process, high-impact goods such as cotton, wool, leather, rubber and polyester are also included. The object behind this is to allow VF Corp to pinpoint how these materials are processed and the impacts they have on the environment and the people who live in the communities that support these processes. Through this practice of supplier outreach, surveys and ongoing research, the company can better understand its entire supply chain.
Based on the data collected VF Corp developed these Traceability Maps to understand where its suppliers are operating, identify areas of concern and address them. Practically, this would translate into, for example, looking at if a supplier is operating in a high-risk location for deforestation, or figuring out if there are more sustainable ways to recycle water in the supplier’s area. Besides this type of information, the maps also include data on human rights, furthering the company’s commitment to its human resources.
With the data that has been collected so far the company has already implemented new policies regarding the ethical sourcing of supplies. A concrete example of the map at work was back in 2019, VF Corp discovered that the leather sourcing in Brazil wasn’t up to its standards, this lead the company to cease collaboration with those suppliers for international distribution until there were assurances that the sourcing of the materials would have no environmental impact. At the moment, the company is focusing on tracing its polyester in order to guarantee that both the recycled and virgin polyester is sourced from locations with fair labor laws, with no forced labor, child labor or unpaid wages.
Designing, developing and manufacturing at VF Corp is done with responsible sourcing and sustainability at the core of the process. This commitment extends across all the brands within the company and concentrates on reducing their footprint and positively impacting the communities and environments in which the materials are made, as well as the people that make them. VF Corp is sharing these maps with the public to back up its commitment to giving back and doing better for the planet. It also validates the sustainability of its brands and sets its mission in stone.
Going forward, VF Corp has set out to create a purpose-led supply chain by 2030, exclusively partnering with producers that meet its standards, have the materials used for its brands’ products be 100% recycled, regenerative or responsibly sourced. This recent milestone is only the beginning of what is to come from VF Corp on the sustainability front!
While there are still certain aspects of VF Corp’s processes that still leave room for improvement, namely the use of leather and the high volume of travel its products are doing across the planet, this is a great initiative on the company’s part. We can only hope that going forward the information collected through the Traceability Maps continues to inform and better the company’s supply chain, making it greener, more sustainable and less impactful on the planet.
You can check out the many Maps at vfc.com.