BURLINGTON, N.C. – Textile producer Glen Raven Inc. has made progress in its corporate sustainability efforts over the past year, including achieving a 25% use of renewable electricity and a 50% increase in its use of recycled products.
“Our corporate sustainability report reflects what we’ve been doing through history, and it’s our opportunity to really articulate what Glen Raven has stood for over time,” said Leib Oehmig, CEO of Glen Raven Inc. “We want to be transparent both internally and externally and hold ourselves accountable. We want to make sure both our customers and the larger community are aware of what we are doing.”
Since last year’s initial report, the company has also attained a 33% decrease in Scope 1 and 2 net carbon emissions between 2019 to 2021, recycled 108,309 pounds of fabric in partnership with customers and increased its waste diversion from the landfill rate to 97%.
“We feel like it’s an achievable goal to become 100% powered by certified renewable electricity by 2025,” Oehmig said. “25% of our energy use today is from renewable sources. We are learning every day, working with power suppliers. We own two of the largest privately held solar installations in North and South Carolina, and we consistently push ourselves to do more.”
The concept around the company’s Recycle My Sunbrella program goes back a decade with the company’s focus on motivating consumers to return fabric so the company could recycle it into reusable fiber that has the look, feel and texture that consumers expect from Glen Raven.
“We went through a lull in that program in terms of interest,” he said. “But we’ve seen a renewed energy in the program over the past several years. It took us a little while to recycle 1 million pounds, but we believe we’ll get to that next million much more quickly.”
The company also has made progress in its goals to support its people and communities by establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team to lead the company; creating six new positions to help foster associate growth and inclusivity; achieving safety rates that were 50% better than the latest OSHA benchmarks; and completing 2,193 hours of volunteer work via the company’s associates.
One of the areas that’s been important to Glen Raven for generations has been early childhood education, both at the local level and in a broader way.
“We want to have a role in ensuring that the next generation can have access and the opportunity to get the education they deserve,” said Oehmig. “The company’s culture is such that if employees require time away from the office to volunteer, no one is looking at the clock. There is a high level of trust here. We schedule these initiatives in a way that has a minimal impact on operations. We are flexible with our associates and haven’t felt the need to formalize that.
”When the company issued its first corporate sustainability report last year, the goal was to share a set of aspirational goals with the public. This updated report is another step to demonstrate Glen Raven’s commitment to accountability, according to the company.
“We’ve always operated with the belief that business growth is most valuable when done alongside the growth of people and preservation of the planet,” Oehmig added. “I thank our dedicated team and partners working toward our ambitious goals in spite of the pandemic and supply chain challenges. I commend them for the wins made last year and for their continued drive for more wins to come.”
For more information and to view the progress report, visit GlenRaven.com/sustainability.
Anne covers the evolving landscape among retailers and manufacturers in the bedding, technology, e-commerce and disruptive retail segments.