HOW TO BE A SUSTAINABILITY LEADER WITH BILLABONG
HOW TO BE A SUSTAINABILITY LEADER WITH BILLABONG
BillabongCrossfire Elastic Shorts
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With over two decades of experience in sustainability and environmental conservation, Brad Lancaster brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Billabong's sustainability efforts. Under his leadership, the brand implemented a range of initiatives, including responsible sourcing, water conservation, and waste reduction programs.
His work helped Billabong become a recognized leader in sustainable surf and outdoor apparel. Read our interview with Jake Lancaster below to discover why Billabong is considered one of the most environment-friendly brand in the world at the moment.
Hi, can you introduce yourself a bit and tell us what you do at Billabong? Hi! My name is Brad, & my role here at Billabong is head of Men's Creative, Product and marketing. What does Billabong mean by “protecting the places we play”? At Billabong we envision a world where everyone knows the feeling. To achieve this goal, we prioritize 'protecting the places we play' which essentially means finding better solutions to minimize the footprint of the products we make and the services we provide. This is a never-ending journey to reduce our impact on the planet and create a better future for the surf and snow community and beyond.
Billabong is known for introducing the first boardshort fully made out of PET recycled plastic, the Recycler. How did the idea come about back in 2007? The mid-2000s marked a significant moment in the growing realization of the impact of plastic waste on our oceans and the planet. Many of us had learned of the great Pacific garbage patch, and thanks to organizations like the Surfrider Foundation, there was a real increase in public awareness around the environmental consequences of plastic pollution. In response to these issues, various industries started to explore utilizing recycled PET waste as an alternative to virgin polyester. In 2007, working closely with our fabric vendors and mills, we found a way to turn plastic bottles into boardshorts and launch our recycler program.
How has the Recycler program evolved over the years? What started in just a few boardshorts each season back in 2007, is now our entire boardshort line. Since 2019, all of our boardshorts globally are Recycler, and today that program stretches across all of our in-water products with 100% of our boardshorts, submersible walkshorts, our UV surf shirts, and our wetsuits all made from Recycled materials. Plus, all of our Adventure Division apparel is made using recycled or organic materials. Since its launch, Recycler has turned hundreds and hundreds of millions of bottles into new products, saving them from ending up in our oceans or landfill. Alongside our Recycler program, we've recently partnered with an organization named CiCLO® Textiles, to launch an enzyme yarn solution that mimics nature where synthetic textiles behave like natural fibers, biodegrading and helping close the loop when a product is at the end of its lifespan. That means, when textiles made with CiCLO®-enhanced fibers end up in environments where biodegradation can occur naturally, microbes are attracted to the fibers and can mineralize them at rates comparable to natural fibers, such as wool. We've worked to engineer CiCLO® through some select Recycler boardshorts as well as combining the technology in the recycled polyester jersey of our Natural rubber wetsuits.
From the plastic bottles found in the ocean to the pair of boardshort, can you give us a brief overview of the Recycler fabrication process? The intercepted post-consumer PET (plastic bottles), are collected and broken down into chips called flake. The flake then goes through another process where they are forged into small-sized pellets. These pellets are then extruded and spun into yarn with the other secret ingredients that make a pair of Billabong trunks. Billabong’s sustainability efforts go all the way to the product’s packaging. Can you share a few of Billabong’s initiatives when it comes to sustainable packaging solutions? All of these efforts going into re-engineering products more sustainably is no good if we're still delivering our products in single-use poly bags. In 2020, we went all in with our packaging too. 100% of our packaging across all categories is now recyclable and made from recycled materials.
How has Billabong measured and tracked its sustainability progress over the years? What are some of the brand’s short and long-term goals in terms of sustainability? We've got lots of little wins to cheer about, but what really counts for us is seeing big global programs like boardshorts making shifts toward a more sustainable future. Even though we've made some significant manufacturing achievements to date, we know there's still a long way to go and launching in Spring 24, you'll see new eco-friendly solutions across the line that further focus on pushing beyond just recycling waste to upcycling processes that close the loop. Our long-term goals continue to involve those larger milestones, and by the end of 2025, we're aiming for 100% of our Adventure Division products and more than 70% of our inline products to be made from recycled or more sustainable materials. We're also working on our Higg index rating which is our current global footprint score which will be calculated and published, enabling us to set long-term, trackable targets on our carbon footprint and emissions.
On the other end of the product, what does Billabong do to educate its customers on sustainability and eco-consciousness? As a core value of our brand, sustainability is at the heart of all our hero product campaigns and we strive to integrate this messaging into every aspect, whether it's our retail trade marketing, digital platforms, social media, or our channels featuring athletes and advocates. When it comes to our products, all of our eco-conscious styles feature hang tags that highlight our efforts to reduce our environmental footprint so our customers can see that we're committed to making a positive impact. In addition to that, you'll discover detailed info about our sustainability efforts and what we aim to accomplish in years to come over at billabong.com/mens-sustainability.html. It's a priority of Billabong's to make sure we're doing our part in protecting our planet and our playground for future generations to come!
As you can see, Billabong really got it dialed when it comes to sustainability so you don’t just buy a product, you do your part for the playground we all love to play on.
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