How Brooks Running Decreases Environmental Footprint With Each Step – Sports Illustrated

Brooks Running is your favorite runner's favorite running shoe brand. The company has made itself an ally to athletes of all ages thanks to its wide selection of exciting performance apparel and footwear.
In addition to keeping the running community on its toes with a steady stream of new releases and exciting colorways, Brooks Running has its eye on the future. That means long-term sustainability.
Sports Illustrated recently spoke with Dave Kemp, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Brooks Running, about the company's plan to decrease its environmental footprint.
What steps are you taking to decrease your environmental footprint?
"Brooks is committed to a long-term, science-based approach to sustainability, and we use that lens to address our contribution to climate change and align our efforts across every level of our business to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Strategies are focused on materials, product design, manufacturing processes, and our global supply chain.
Our targets are as follows: 
At Brooks, we aim to reduce the impact that our running gear has on the planet. To do this, we've created our sustainable consumption strategy in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #12: Responsible Consumption & Production.
We take a holistic approach, managing the impact of our products on the planet across their lifecycles, from raw materials all the way through to product use and end-of-life. We've identified key interventions to address that impact: we will minimize our reliance on non-renewable resources and use more sustainable materials in our product, minimize material waste generated during manufacturing, introduce a fully circular product and take responsibility for our product after its usable life. 
Last year we made significant progress towards our sustainability goals. In 2023, 24% of Brooks' total raw materials used in Footwear and Apparel products were recycled or bio-based, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from raw materials by 5.9% per unit. 88% of textiles used in our product are recycled yarns, up from 67% in 2022.
Our first footwear final assembly factory installed rooftop solar in 2023, with almost all final assembly footwear factories with plans to have operational rooftop solar in 2024. Lastly, 40% of footwear material waste was diverted from landfill or incineration, an increase from 33% in 2022.
Where does the Higg Index fit in your strategy?
"Our efforts span beyond raw material choices to consider the overall environmental impact of materials and the full life cycle of our finished product. One life cycle stage we focus on is the processing of raw materials into a finished material, such as textile knitting, textile dyeing, and midsole manufacturing, all of which contribute 35% of our total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
To help better understand the environmental impact of our materials and products across their life cycles, we use the industry standard tools. Developed by the apparel and footwear industry collaborative group, , the Higg product tools measure five environmental impact categories: global warming potential, fossil fuel depletion, water scarcity, eutrophication, and chemistry. 
The Higg Index product tools allow us to use industry life cycle assessment data and implement a scientific approach to identify new strategies to further reduce GHG emissions of our materials and product as well as other environmental impacts, such as water scarcity. These tools also help us improve the accuracy of our impact disclosures, such as Scope 3 GHG emissions.
We are scaling our adoption of both the Higg MSI and Higg PM, working towards entering all footwear and apparel materials into the Higg MSI and evaluating the environmental impact of all our footwear and apparel styles using the Higg PM.  
Since 2021 we have adopted the SLCP CAF, replacing our traditional third-party audit approach. Our factory partners use Worldly to complete the SLCP assessment through the Higg Facility Social Labor Module (Higg FSLM). This ensures we are doing our part to help reduce duplicative auditing and costs for our suppliers. Using the FLSM helps us to measure solar labor practices and monitor compliance to the Brooks Supplier Code of Conduct. 
To achieve our objective to ensure environmental compliance at the factories manufacturing Brooks product and materials, we assess their environmental performance through the industry-standardized tool, the  (Higg FEM).
We have used this tool with our Tier 1 final assembly factories since 2014, and, since 2019, with our in-scope Tier 2 material suppliers. Following the completion of this self-assessment, all factories are required to verify the accuracy of their assessment via a Cascale-approved verifier."
Are there any other environmental/sustainability causes you want to highlight?
"This past year, Brooks launched its new recommerce program, ReStart, to refurbish and resell gently used Brooks footwear in the US. ReStart keeps gently used gear on the run and enters the brand into the growing recommerce market.  
Brooks partnered with Trove, the industry leader in branded resale for more than a decade and the recommerce partner to the world's leading brands, to power ReStart and ensure a seamless shopping experience, inviting new customers into the brand and providing accessibility and optionality to the Brooks community.
In addition to ReStart, Brooks invested in key partnerships across sectors to make progress towards their Planet 2030 strategy. Most notably, Brooks was a founding cohort in the launch of The Footwear Collective, which brings together major footwear industry players to drive a collaborative and circular approach to footwear consumption. The collective is the first industry-specific initiative of climate advocacy non-profit, EarthDNA. 
Looking specifically at Brooks performance product, we also launched the carbon-neutral Green Silence Ghost 15, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 5% compared to the inline Ghost 15, making it our most sustainable product to date.
The Green Silence Ghost 15 paves the path to moving our entire product line closer to our goal of incorporating at least 50% recycled or bio-based content in all the materials used in Brooks products by 2030."
Further Reading: Brooks Running has unveiled its "Run USA Collection" for the summer.
Pat Benson covers the sneaker industry for Sports Illustrated's FanNation. Previously, he has reported on the NBA, authored "Kobe Bryant's Sneaker History (1996-2020)," and interviewed some of the biggest names in the sports world. You can email him at
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