Athletic apparel



How sustainable is Lululemon?


Bluesign System Partner

Fair Labor Association

Science Based Targets Initiative

Lululemon is a Canadian athletic apparel brand that offers technical solutions for yoga, running, fitness and more. The company doesn’t publish a sustainability report and its website offers only little insight into its operations and its performance regarding our pillars. Lululemon is relatively transparent about its supply chain and publishes a list of finished goods suppliers. But in terms of material sourcing, there’s not enough information about what materials the company uses and where it originates. Without transparency on this topic, there is a risk that animals are being harmed for the manufacturing of its products, but it also leaves us without information about the environmental performance of its sourcing policy. The same goes for Lululemon’s carbon footprint. Even though the Canadian brand states that it reports yearly emissions with the Carbon Disclosure Project, the CDP website states that Lululemon has declined to participate in the previous few years. If you look closely enough, there’s some climate action though. The company has joined RE100 and has a target for 100% renewable energy in 2021 for its owned and operated facilities. It has also set a Science Based 60% reduction target for its entire supply chain by 2030, which is very ambitious. It’s not that the ambition is not there, there is just a lack of transparency in its reporting at the moment. Workers’ rights remain a complicated and closed topic in our research for which we largely have to rely on the information the company provides itself. A proper Code of Conduct that covers decent workers’ rights is the first step a company usually takes and Lululemon has this in place. But then the question is: how do these codes and standards translate to the real world? Lululemon conducts a large amount of audits itself, but is also a member of the Fair Labor Association, which conducts some independent audits. The Canadian brand produces in many high-risk countries and it appears that a Code of Conduct and a Fair Labor Association membership are no guarantees for the upholding of workers’ rights in its supply chain. In a 2019 Guardian investigation, the newspaper found workers’ rights were being violated in factories where Lululemon manufactured. The journalists found that workers’ monthly wages were less than the price of one pair of its leggings, which is obviously lower than a living wage. The Bangladeshi workers said that they were being abused in the workplace and forced to work overtime.

Publication date: May 18th 2020
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