Since its inception, the renowned New Zealand merino brand, Icebreaker, has committed itself to sustainability and removing unnecessary plastic use. Jordi Beneyto-Ferre, the Senior Manager and Global Materials and Sustainability at Icebreaker, stated that transparency and accountability within the industry were critical to making a difference.
“For us, sustainability never has been and never will be a trend. It’s our fundamental reason for being. Since 1995, our message has always been clear: nature has the answers,” shared Beneyto-Ferre.
The enterprise commits itself to sustainability through three key aspects. Firstly, working closely with its growers and partners at The New Zealand Merino Company to innovate farming principles to regenerative practises, using renewable resources to minimise carbon footprints.
Secondly, Icebreaker is working towards the end goal of being plastic-free, having made strides already with 95 percent of the company’s global fibre consumption being natural or plant-based.
Thirdly, Icebreaker leads through transparency in its relationships with its suppliers, ensuring that from sheep to the shirt, the brand improves on how it makes its products.
Icebreaker’s focus on sustainability and creating a circular economy was a part of the brand's mission to create clothes with care, integrity, and responsibility.
“Over 25 years ago, we set out to challenge an outdoor clothing industry dominated by plastics and synthetics with a different and more sustainable way of thinking, doing and making.”
Beneyto-Ferre stated that Icebreaker is focused on encouraging consumers to consider the complete life cycle of clothing items. In the latest Transparency Report, the brand committed to repairing and rehoming its products. To achieve this, the brand has partnered with UPPAREL, which provides information and a conscious solution for clothing items consumers no longer use them.
The brand's materials aligned with its sustainability goals are primarily merino wool, organic cotton, and Tencel Lyocell, a cellulose-based fibre derived from sustainably sourced eucalyptus tree wood pulp.
To reduce its carbon footprint at the production and shipping level, Icebreaker has adopted the Higg FEM (Facility Environmental Module) as a part of the VF Corporation, where the brand uses the verification and training programme, where the brand then shares and promotes environmental management practices.
“Since 2018, VF’s Supply Chain Sustainability team has trained over 1000 supplier factory representatives on implementing leading energy efficiency and resource management strategies.”
Beneyto-Ferre revealed that for Icebreaker, sustainability is as much of a social consideration as an environmental one. The VF Corporation’s principles include regulations and requirements around workers’ safety and rights. It targets crucial industry issues, including providing workers' and communities' basic needs such as water, sanitation, education, healthcare, childcare and nutrition.
“At icebreaker, supporting safe, stable working environments for those in the factories producing our product and improving the lives of those in local communities beyond our factory walls is critical. Through investing in improving their livelihoods, we build a healthier, more efficient, and more stable team that will thrive in the workplace.”
To engage consumers with the brand’s missions and objectives, Icebreaker continues to launch campaigns and activities to connect people with a greater understanding of how their clothing is made and how turning to natural fibres with clothing can make a positive difference.
Beneyto-Ferre shared that for the future, Icebreaker will continue to upscale the adoption of regenerative wool, with an ultimate end goal of the brand’s wool all being sourced from regenerative agricultural farms.
“We continue to advance our Plastic Free initiative with substantial progress year after year. We last published 95 percent of plastic-free fibres and will soon release the progress over the last year.”
The brand will launch its take-back program on the 27th of March in collaboration with UPPAREL, in which recycling bins will be installed in seven New Zealand and Australia stores where customers can dispose of their pre-loved apparel by the brand.