When you think of sustainability, what comes to mind? We’re guessing the first thing that comes up is something “green”: recycling, composting, trees. These are definitely important pieces of the puzzle, but our approach to sustainability at Burton goes further than that. We’re passionate about leaving an overall positive impact in the long-term. That includes how we treat our workers, what materials we use in our products, and how our actions are affecting the snowy climates we love so much. For Burton, sustainability isn’t a “nice to have”—it’s essential to how we do business.
A Decade of Burton Sustainability Progress
Our commitment to sustainability began in earnest a decade ago when we joined the bluesign® System. A year later, in 2012, we founded our company-wide sustainability program to make sure we were embedding our values in the business. Fast forward to December of 2017, when Burton announced three-year sustainability goals to achieve by the end of 2020.
Our 2020 Sustainability Goals included a wide range of categories so we could improve our impact across the board: from manufacturing, to packaging, office energy usage, and our fair labor standards. Making these goals a reality was (and is) hard work, but the health of all people, our planet, and our sport depends on it. The goals were ambitious due to the short timeline and broad scope, but we’re used to pushing the limits.
Here’s where we’re at now, at the end of our 2020 Sustainability Goals.
- 21% average carbon footprint reduction for our snowboards from the Winter 2017 to Winter 2022 product seasons. Going forward, we are doubling down on our other products and looking for more ways to collaboratively drive down industry-wide emissions.
- 12% CO2 reduction at our global headquarters. This wasn’t quite the 20% we hoped for, but we made massive progress to get there. Our Burlington, Vermont, and Innsbruck, Austria, headquarters both underwent building upgrades to reduce their carbon footprints, and the Tokyo, Japan, office was moved to a more efficient building. 942 solar panels were installed on our Burlington headquarters to contribute renewable energy to the local electric grid. By continuing to upgrade infrastructure, lower our energy use, and advocate for better policy, we will continue to reduce our CO2 emissions.
- Advocacy and activism. Our partnership with Protect Our Winters started in 2013 and continues to help us influence policymakers to effect systemic solutions to climate change, and empower the outdoor community to use their voices, too. We’re also a founding member of the collaborative Outdoor Industry Association Climate Action Corps, a group of companies that commit to measure, plan, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and share their progress annually. On the ground, we closed our offices and stores to join the Global Climate Strike in 2019 and rally our community around climate action.
- 59% bluesign® products. This means our softgoods product is responsibly crafted in processes that minimize impact on people and our planet. While COVID-19 affected our progress towards this goal, we are well on our way to 100% and have already crossed the finish line for apparel and outerwear as well as 98% of backpacks.
- 78% PFC-free DWR. This eco-friendly alternative maintains durable water-repellent (DWR) performance while reducing the harmful environmental impacts of conventional DWR chemicals. For the upcoming Fall 2021/Winter 2022 season, 100% of our bags, headwear, and accessories, 92% of apparel, and 74% of outerwear are PFC-free.
- 99% sustainable cotton. Organic cotton is farmed without toxic chemicals, supporting ecosystem balance. All cotton apparel, fleece, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton.
- 36% recycled polyester. Recycled polyester fiber conserves resources, uses less water, and produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than virgin polyester. We’ve gone from 5% to 36% over the past three years.
- Recycled and recyclable packaging. We’re committed to reducing waste and increasing recycling. That’s why 66% of Burton's packaging at retail is recyclable and almost all contains a minimum of 80% recycled materials. There is more work to be done, so we joined the Responsible Packaging Movement to collaborate with other companies in the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of retail product packaging.
- 100% responsibly sourced down. We ensure that every feather originates from ethically treated ducks and geese.
Fair Labor Practices
- Accredited by the Fair Labor Association in 2020. This is the highest standard for ensuring safe conditions, ethical treatment, and fair labor practices throughout our supply chain.
- Company culture. Flexible schedules, free local mountain season passes, organic community garden plots, and office dogs. Our culture is our foundation.
- Employment benefits. Paid time off to vote and volunteer in the community, paid maternity and caregiver leave, and comprehensive family healthcare plans.
- Equal pay. We pay employees based on experience, position, and performance. We have achieved gender pay equality and are in the process of assessing our pay practices across a range of additional demographics to ensure pay equality for all.
- A B Corp since 2019, which reinforces our commitment to use business as a force for good.
Follow Us Forward
Burton's sustainability achievements are the result of hard work by our passionate employees around the world. Our gratitude also goes out to our many collaborators—the suppliers, industry peers, and non-profit organizations—that help us work towards positive change.
We’re proud of our progress so far, and aware of the long hike ahead of us. The 2020 goals were not the end of our efforts. Check back later this year to keep following us on our sustainability journey.