Glen Raven Inc., a leading provider of innovative textiles including Sunbrella® brand fabrics and the parent company of Trivantage, has released its first ever corporate sustainability report, Continuing a Pattern of Good. The report establishes a baseline of metrics across two foundational pillars—“Supporting Our People and Communities” and “Sustaining Our Planet”—while outlining the company’s measurable goals.
“As the world evolves, we feel it is important to be more transparent about our actions, acknowledge the work we’ve done and continue to challenge ourselves to be an even stronger champion of sustainability,” said Leib Oehmig, chief executive officer, Glen Raven. “We owe it to future generations to continue to be a business that demonstrates success while contributing to the greater good of our planet.”
Transparency for all stakeholders
Oehmig says that while the report is new, Glen Raven has followed sustainable practices throughout its 140-year history. However, the report is an opportunity to set measurable goals and provide transparency to its stakeholders—associates, suppliers, customers, shareholders and the communities in which it operates.
“We’re seeing more and more that well-informed consumers want to know that the people and the brands with whom they’re engaging reflect their own values and that those brands have the same commitments and have aligned the commitments to sustainable practices,” he says. “We’re seeing much more of this across many industries, sectors and the markets that we serve.”
For example, in 2009 the company launched its “Recycle My Sunbrella” take-back program that accepts pre- and post-consumer Sunbrella waste and repurposes it for a variety of products. Glen Raven will reach 1 million pounds of recycled material through the program in 2021, and it has set a goal to reach another 1 million pounds by 2025.
“When we launched Recycle My Sunbrella in 2009, we had high goals and a relatively high level of engagement. We’ve had to work out tactical things like storage of fabrics before they are returned and, of course, by owning a logistics company, we can certainly handle a lot of the shipping,” Oehmig says. “We’re on a good path now. We have a lot more engagement across the market and from a lot of our industry partners, so we’re really excited about the opportunity to make a difference with that program.”
Additional goals outlined in the report are divided among four areas:
- Leadership diversity: Increase diversity in leadership by 20% by 2025, and increase the number of women among first-line supervisors by 25% by 2025. Currently, women make up 41% of Glen Raven’s global workforce and 30% of its leadership.
- Safety: Improve safety with zero at-risk behaviors each year at all facilities.
- Volunteerism: Gain 100% participation of all associates in volunteer activities by 2025, with a specific focus on early childhood development.
- Energy management: Become 100% powered by certified renewable energy by 2025.
- Carbon footprint: Become carbon neutral by 2030 for Scope 1 (direct greenhouse emissions, e.g., fuel for boilers) and Scope 2 (indirect greenhouse emissions, e.g., purchased electricity) emissions.
- Recycled material use: Use five times more recycled raw materials by 2025, introducing additional fabrics that use yarns from post-consumer recycled streams.
- Minimize waste: Implement zero-waste-to-landfill practices at all facilities by 2022.
Safety and wellness
The pandemic itself didn’t affect the report, Oehmig says, but it did reinforce the company’s commitment to the health and well-being of its associates. The company has spent almost $8 million in testing, contact tracing, paid sick leave and quarantine pay and enhanced cleaning, aligning employee wellness with existing safety goals in the process.
“We’ve moved beyond the traditional measures of incident rates and the amount of lost time due to injuries,” he says. “In 2014 we really started focusing on the behaviors that lead to incidents and create injuries. [The pandemic] just elevated and amplified that as our plants have been navigating the pandemic with associates who were dealing with not only everything in their professional lives—as we have tried to continue to support our customers—but in their personal lives as well, which can naturally create stress and distraction.”
Oehmig notes that the company’s corporate-based team moved to 90 percent remote work due to the pandemic and will continue that practice at least through mid-2021 to support its associates who are parents of school-age children through the end of the current academic year.
Working with sustainable business experts BSR™, Glen Raven followed the reporting standards of two organizations, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, to develop the report.
“Over an 18-month period we brought a group of our associates from all levels and all of our locations around the globe,” Oehmig says. “This isn’t a North American-centric sustainability report. It is a global announcement.”
Glen Raven employs 3,000 associates worldwide. Its flagship operation is based in Anderson, S.C., with plants in Wasquehal, France, and Suzhou, China, and locations in 23 countries on six continents.
“We clearly recognize and embrace the cultural differences that we have in all of our locations around the world, but everywhere we operate, it’s still rooted in Glen Raven values, whether it is our commitment to our associates and their well-being, to the environment, or to the communities that we serve globally,” Oehmig says. “That’s what this report represents.”