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How sustainable is Lee ?

Lee & sustainability


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Dont buy Click here for score rapport: 4 out of 32

Sustainability summary

Lee has achieved the E-label, because there's no concrete policy in place on climate, environment or labor conditions. It is hard to see the effort Lee is making on sustainability. Therefore, more policy and transparency is needed.

Brand owner: VF Corporation
Head office: Merriam, KS, USA
Sector: Denim & jeans
Categories : Male, Female
Free Tags: VFC, Shirts, Pullover, Jackets, Jeans, Dress

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Lee sustainability score report

Last edited: 6 April 2017 by Mario
Last reviewed: 6 April 2017 by Mario

Questions about Climate Change/ Carbon Emissions

1 out of 6
1. Is there a policy for the brand to minimize, reduce or compensate carbon emissions? VFC (brand owner of Lee) implements several measures to reduce its climate emissions, such as energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. Source
2. Has the brand (company) disclosed the annual absolute carbon footprint of its 'own operations' (Scope 1 & 2) and has the brand already reduced or compensated 10% of these emissions in the last 5 years? VFC has reduced its climate footprint of own operations from 263,485 tons of CO2e in 2013 to 258,815 tons of CO2e in 2015. This represents a decrease of around 1.8% (see link, "Climate Change 2014 & 2016 Responseā€). Source
3. Is at least 50% of the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? VFC reports on the use of renewable energy, aims to use renewable energy by 2025 only, but is not clear enough about the overall share of its current renewable energy consumption, as well as sources, types and additionality of renewable energy supply. Source
4. Is all the electricity used by the brand (company) generated from renewable resources, such as wind or solar energy? See remark for carbon emissions policy question 3. Source
5. Has the brand (company) set a target to reduce the carbon footprint of its 'own operations' by at least 20% within the next 5 years? VFC does not communicate up to date target reductions for its absolute climate footprint of own operations. Source
6. Does the brand (company) also have a policy to reduce/compensate carbon emissions generated from the product supply chain that is beyond own operations? VFC evaluates the climate impacts of its contracted factories, and is working to increase awareness of carbon use in its supplier base. But, for the time being VFC does not publish clear results, which include emission reductions achieved. Source

Questions about Environmental Policy

2 out of 12
1. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 5% of its volume? VFC is a member of Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and has defined a sustainable fiber strategy. But, the overall proportion of preferable raw materials currently processed for Lee garments is not reported. Source
2. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 10% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
3. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 25% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
4. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 50% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
5. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 75% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
6. Does the brand (company) use environmentally 'preferred' raw materials for more than 90% of its volume? See remark for environmental policy question 1. Source
7. Is there a policy for the brand (company) to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from the whole lifecycle to make the jeans and other apparel? VFC has standards for wastewater treatment in the production of all their products (Chem-IQ). VFC has also published its RSL (see link at Environmental question 9), and gives an annual (but superficial) overview of the progress (as of May 2016). Source
8. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least one suspect chemical group, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? Neither Lee nor VFC report whether at least 1 out of 11 suspect chemical groups, such as azo dyes or chlorophenols can be considered as fully phased-out in the entire production chain. Source
9. Has the brand (company) eliminated at least three suspect chemical groups, such as Phthalates or Per fluorinated chemicals from its entire garment production? See remark for environmental policy question 8. Source
10. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize the environmental impact of its shipping packaging and carrier bags, by reducing, re-using, recycling and responsible sourcing of packaging materials, and does the brand annually report on these results? VFC implements sustainability purchasing criteria for its packaging materials. However, concrete aggregate results regarding its packaging materials footprint are not made public. Source
11. Does the brand (company) have clear objectives to minimize waste, by reducing, re-using and recycling, and does the brand annually report the results? Lee does not report on the specific annual results of its waste reduction policy. However, brand owner VFC implements several measures to reduce its waste streams and reports on its aggregate annual waste material footprint (more than 69,965 metric tons annually). Source
12. Does the brand (company) encourage the return or re-use of garments? Neither Lee nor VFC report, whether the return or re-use of garments by its customers is stimulated. Source

Questions about Labour Conditions/ Fair Trade

1 out of 14
1. Does the brand (company) have a supplier Code of Conduct (CoC) which includes the following standards: No forced or slave labor, no child labor, no discrimination of any kind and a safe and hygienic workplace? All standards are mentioned in VF Corporation's Global Compliance Principles. Source
2. Does this CoC include at least two of the following workers rights: 1. to have a formally registered employment relationship 2. to have a maximum working week of 48 hours with voluntary and paid overtime of 12 hours maximum 3. to have a sufficient living wage? 1. Not mentioned; 2. No, maximum working week of 60 hours, not clear whether overtime is voluntary and 'except under extraordinary business circumstances', which can mean anything; 3. No, mention of minimum legal or the prevailing industry wage, not living wage. Source
3. Does this Code of Conduct include the right for workers to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively; and in those situations where these rights are restricted under law, the right to facilitate parallel means of independent and free association and bargaining? Freedom of association is mentioned, but nothing found about situations in which this right is restricted by law. Source
4. Does the brand (company) have a clear and effective health and safety policy for the workers in the finishing process of jeans, at least covering the ban on sandblasting? VFC has not clearly publicly issued that sandblasting is banned from the Lee's supply chains. Source
5. Does the brand (company) have a published list of direct suppliers, that have collectively contributed to more than 90% of the purchase volume? VFC does not provide a significant list of direct suppliers. Source
6. Is the brand (company) a member of a collective initiative that aims to improve labor conditions, or does the brand (company) purchase its supplies from accredited apparel manufacturers with improved labor conditions? VFC participates in a number of MSI's, such as FLA (but as a Category B Licensee only) and Social Accountability International (SAI / SA8000). However, VFC does not specify what percentage of factories/annual volume is certified. Source
7. Do independent civil society organizations like NGO's and labor unions have a decisive voice in this collective initiative or in these certification schemes? See remark for labor conditions policy question 6. Source
8. Is there a policy for the brand (company) for capacity building at the apparel manufacturers for improved labour practices? VFC implements its 'The Third Way' programme at strategic suppliers to improve labour practices, and for instance, to decrease absenteeism of workers. Results such as improved efficiency by 23% for cutting, 41% for sewing and 52% for finishing and product defects decreased by 8.5%, but not with respect to improved labour conditions itself. Source
9. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy? Is at least 90% of the brands production volume from apparel manufacturers monitored for labour conditions? VFC communicates to audit all its 1st tier suppliers (such as sewing, cutting, embroidery, screen-print, laundry). However, the provided information about audit results are not specific enough. Source
10. Is at least 25% of the production volume from apparel manufacturers approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FWF, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 9. Source
11. Is at least 50% of the production volume from apparel manufacturers approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FWF, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 9. Source
12. Does the brand (company) implement a policy to establish the payment of living wages at its apparel manufacturers? Are at least first living wage payments realised? VFC reports to work closely with NGO partners, factory owners and workers to advance living wages and safer, more efficient production practices for long-term success. However, clear results of the respective measures are not yet reported. Source
13. Does the brand (company) annually report on the results of its labor conditions policy for the leather, yarn and fabric production phases, including a reasonable overview of the number and region of workplaces covered by the policy in relation to the total production volume? VFC states to audit all its 2nd tier suppliers (such as fabric mills or tanneries) but does not report on results of its labour conditions policy for the fabric manufacturing phases. Source
14. Are at least 50% of the brand's leather, yarn and fabric production phases approved as socially compliant by independent third parties, such as FLO-Cert, GOTS or SA8000? See remark for labor conditions policy question 13. Source