Respecting the Environment: Volcom

Volcom: making waves in sustainability.

It should come as no surprise that for Volcom—a brand that offers casualwear for men, juniors and kids who can often be found riding waves, snowboarding down mountains or skateboarding in a local park—environmental sustainability is a business issue that's top of mind. And because the company was built on the ideals of liberation, innovation and experimentation, it should also come as no surprise that Volcom is taking some groundbreaking steps toward making itself an even more sustainable brand than it already is.

"We've spent a lot of time instilling our sustainability principles into the DNA of the company."

A Holistic Approach to Sustainability

Volcom's commitment to sustainability can be seen in all aspects of its business, from its supply chain all the way through to its impact on the communities where its customers and employees live and work. This commitment is even reflected in the company's mission statement—its Brandifesto: "We strive to responsibly make meaningful product that not only exemplifies our lifestyle but enhances the ability to live it." 

And when it comes to sustainability, it all starts with the endgame. Volcom, with support from its parent company, Kering, has set ambitious goals to meet by 2016. They're focused on issues like reducing carbon emissions, waste and water usage; increasing use of sustainable materials and processes; and eliminating certain dangerous chemicals from their products. 

To top it off, Volcom is also making some behind-the-scenes changes that make it easier for them to be a sustainable company. They've adopted a new strategy called Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) that places a monetary value on a company's environmental impact. By adopting this strategy, they're better able to track and understand environmental impact throughout their supply chain—which is a first and very important step toward reducing that impact. It's also supported their participation in the Nordstrom Supplier Scorecard Initiative, which helps Nordstrom vendors track and monitor their environmental impacts.

All this leads to satisfied customers who love the brand's Earth-friendly sensibility. "Volcom is a great company with a longstanding commitment to fresh, fun and innovative clothing," said Scott Sheppick, Direct buyer at Nordstrom. "This attitude really carries over into their unwavering focus on communities and the environment—something that means a lot to our customers and Nordstrom as well." 

What's Next? 

One of the company's biggest areas of focus in 2014 is incorporating more recycled polyester into its clothing. This is a big step forward, especially because polyester is one of the fibers Volcom uses most. For its spring 2014 line, almost 25 percent of men's board shorts contain materials made by Repreve—a company that produces recycled fibers. Interested in snagging a pair? Just look for items with the green Repreve hangtag. 

The company is also focusing on opportunities to improve their packaging. Volcom has set a target to source 100 percent of their paper and packaging from certified sustainable sources with at least 50 percent recycled content. 

Though it's clear Volcom has started to emerge as a leader in environmental sustainability, for them it's just the beginning. "There's still so much work to be done, but we've spent a lot of time instilling our sustainability principles into the DNA of the company," said Derek Sabori, Volcom's Senior Director of Sustainability. "The building blocks and the blueprint are there. Now it's time to execute."