The planet needs urgent progress to combat the negative impacts of climate change. The UN reports, “Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century — with some areas of the world expected to warm even more.” As a multinational retailer with a global supply chain, the decisions we make have the potential to create more resilient and sustainable systems while reducing our emissions.
By managing resources responsibly, we increase our capacity to adapt to resource scarcity, geopolitical uncertainty, changing technologies and future environmental and social challenges. From the beginning, we’ve embedded sustainability teams within our supply chain, where we’ve been able to make a significant impact on responsible materials and labor. We’ve focused our approach around:
- Responsibly Sourced Materials, Products & Packaging
- GHG Emissions Reductions
- Energy Efficiency
- Landfill Diversion
Our work begins at the design phase, prioritizing low-emissions materials, such as responsibly sourced cotton and wood. We carry that focus through sourcing, packaging and marketing — from working with suppliers towards lower emissions in manufacturing to adopting sustainable material certifications. We apply environmental strategies and targets across both our owned and operated facilities and our supply chain, and we report on our progress in our annual Impact Report.
Products & Packaging
We strive to further minimize the environmental impact of our products and packaging each year. We prioritize responsible materials and finishes in our products, including:
- 100% responsibly sourced cotton by 2021
- 50% responsibly sourced wood by 2021
- 100% GREENGUARD company-produced Pottery Barn Kids bedroom and nursery furniture as of 2020
We also prioritize recycled and preferred fiber alternatives, such as REPREVE polyester made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and TENCEL™ fibers made from Forest Stewardship Council(R)-certified wood pulp. To guide our responsible sourcing initiatives, we work closely with many third-party certification organizations that verify our commitments to Organic, Sustainably Sourced, Fair Trade, Handcrafted, and Certified Nontoxic products. Learn more here.
Since 2007, 100% of our catalogs have been FSC Mix-certified. As we’ve acquired new customers, we’ve prioritized digital communication, reducing catalog production from 250M in past years to less than 120M in 2020. As part of our landfill diversion program, we also began a major initiative to transition our packaging to curbside-recyclable materials like cardboard, and we’re working to reduce packaging volume in general.
We’ve focused on reducing emissions and expanding water-based finish options across our products to improve wellbeing for both our customers and factory workers. All of the products we sell are required to meet national and state laws for restricted substances and emissions, and we invest in meeting and exceeding these standards. For example, across our brands we offer a wide array of products certified to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® for consumer safety, by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for environmentally and socially responsible materials and manufacturing, and by GREENGUARD for low chemical emissions.
GHG Emissions Reduction
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are increasingly the focus of public concern for the welfare of our environment. Reducing emissions by increasing efficiency provides us with significant cost savings (a competitive advantage) and supports our commitment to reducing our environmental impact. We’ve made big strides in emissions reduction in our operations. While our revenues have increased, we’ve reduced our carbon intensity year-over-year since 2011. In 2020, we conducted a comprehensive Scope 3 assessment with third-party experts, Anthesis, and made our first public CDP Climate Disclosure submission. In 2021, we expanded our Climate disclosure and submitted our first public CDP Forests disclosure. All of our CDP Climate and Forests submissions can be accessed here. In 2021, we announced a Science-Based Target (SBT) for emissions reduction by 2030. Measured against a 2019 baseline, our goal is:
- 50% absolute reduction in Scope 1 & 2 Emissions
- 14% absolute reduction in Scope 3 Emissions from materials, production, downstream transportation and product use.
We also set a goal to be 100% carbon neutral in Scope 1 & Scope 2 Emissions by 2025. The full details of our SBT commitment can be accessed here.
We’re continually working to improve our operational efficiency and mitigate the risks of electricity cost volatility wherever possible. We do this by strategically managing electricity purchases, investing in efficiency projects and taking advantage of incentives for renewable energy. To date, over 420 of our stores and facilities have been retrofitted or designed with energy-efficient LED lighting. Our consumer lighting products include LED bulbs across our brands, and brands like Rejuvenation are leading the design of energy-efficient lighting for a broad range of spaces, from homes to businesses.
We’ve committed to 75% landfill diversion across our operations by 2021 and our recycling programs extend across our stores, distribution centers and corporate offices. To reach this goal, we’ve engaged with landlords and recycling providers across all locations to expand the types of materials we recycle and engage and train teams around best practices. We’ve collaborated with partners such as Good360 to donate unsold products and materials to nonprofit groups and reduce product waste in our supply chain. Beyond our own operations, we continue to prioritize the production of high-quality products crafted to last.
Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility
Our focus on certified sustainable materials began in 2008 with our long-term Global Forest & Trade Network partnership, and we formalized our process in 2010 with a sustainable supply chain strategy. Since then, we’ve set increasingly ambitious goals for environmentally and socially responsible labor and materials. All of our suppliers are expected to follow applicable environmental laws and regulations in the country of operation, adopt reasonable measures to mitigate negative operational impacts on the environment, and strive to continuously improve environmental performance. The Higg Index Facility Environment Module (FEM) is mandatory for our top suppliers and we are using the data from Higg FEM to help our suppliers track and set reduction targets aligned with our Science-Based Target. To learn the details of our environmental compliance standards, see our Environmental Policy.
Third-Party Certifications and Memberships
We are active members of the following organizations, and use these industry groups to guide and inform our strategy:
- Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
- Textile Exchange
- Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
- WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN)
- Leather Working Group (LWG)
By partnering with external groups and certification bodies, we hold ourselves to a higher standard of awareness and accountability. These groups include, but are not limited to:
- Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
- Organic Content Standard (OCS)
- Better Cotton Initiative™ (BCI)
- Recycled Claim Standard (RCS)
- Global Recycled Standard (GRS)
- Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC)
- Fair Trade USA®
- STANDARD 100 BY OEKO-TEX®
- Nest’s Ethical Handcraft Program
- The All India Artisans & Craftworkers Welfare Association (AIACA) Craftmark
Assessing Our Impact
Every year, we report on our progress with transparent metrics that include Scope 1 (direct GHG emissions from fuel consumption), Scope 2 (indirect GHG emissions from purchased electricity, heat and steam) and Scope 3 (value chain). We will continue to post our CDP Climate Disclosure to provide a greater level of detail about our emissions, and our strategy and metrics are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We amplify our impact by integrating sustainability into business decision-making and sourcing strategy. Working with operations teams, we’re developing a long-term energy and emissions strategy, improving clean production across our business, and researching science-based targets. We also consider climate-related risks within company-wide risk assessments. And we train brand teams and vendors on a regular basis around our environmental initiatives to drive engagement and ownership. To learn more, see our Environmental Policy.