Sustainable Cotton, Recycled Polyester and Alternative Flax
Hanes is committed to understanding and reducing the environmental impact of the raw materials we use to make our products.
The company’s efforts are already making a difference. For example:
- Nearly all of the cotton used in Hanes’ manufacturing facilities around the world is sourced from the United States and grown in low- to no-irrigation areas. Reducing the amount of water used in our manufacturing facilities offsets some of the water used to grow cotton.
- The need for virgin cotton is reduced by using recycled yarn as a substitute for the cotton content in our black socks. Some recycled yarn is also now being used in the production of white socks.
- Cotton fabric waste that cannot be used for recycled yarn is sent to other companies that recycle/reuse the material in the production of carpeting and other commercial products.
- Use of virgin polyester is reduced, as is society’s overall landfill waste, by sourcing some fibers from recycled PET – the equivalent of keeping 62 million plastic bottles out of landfills.
- We track chemical use to ensure HanesBrands’ products are made with the safest substances possible.
While cotton is a natural and renewable resource, growing cotton has an impact on the environment – including the use of water, pesticides and herbicides. That’s why the company adheres to cotton-sourcing practices that help ensure the lowest possible impact to the environment.
More than 90 percent all of the cotton used in HanesBrands’ internal manufacturing facilities is grown and harvested in low- to no-irrigation areas of the southeastern United States. The company sources it there for two reasons: it has the high quality that we demand for our products and production techniques, and the advanced farming methods – such as integrated pest-management strategies, conservation tillage and water optimization strategies – used by U.S. cotton farmers result in lower impacts on the environment.
HanesBrands engages with U.S.-based Cotton Incorporated, which leads the global cotton industry, to stay abreast of best practices in cotton sourcing. The company is also a member of the Cotton LEADSTM program, which advocates for responsible raw material production.
The company further mitigates the environmental impact of cotton by recycling cotton fabric waste from our textile-cutting operations. The cotton waste is spun into yarn that can be used to make socks and other apparel. Recycled yarn accounts for all of the cotton in our black socks. Hanes has also successfully expanded the use of recycled yarn by blending it into select white socks.
Additionally, cotton fabric waste that cannot be used for recycled yarn is sent to other companies that recycle/reuse the material in the production of carpeting and other commercial products.
HanesBrands strives to expand its use of sustainable materials in its products, including cotton yarns made from spinning technologies that require less energy to manufacture, recycled cotton fibers derived from cut fabric waste, and recycled polyester filament yarns and fibers, both from plastic bottles. The company has a decade of experience in using recycled PET in its products and, during this time, has fine-tuned manufacturing processes to incorporate recycled fibers without impact to quality. Recycled polyester is used in all of the company’s fleece products and in cotton-polyester EcoSmart T-shirts sold to screen printers. Annually, Hanes brand products contain nearly 6 million pounds of recycled materials.
Hanes is also investigating the use of flax fibers as a partial substitute to cotton. In addition to being natural and renewable, flax crops rely on natural rainfall and require little or no chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Flax can also be grown in winter, allowing cotton and other farmers to plant a winter coverage crop that increases year-round field productivity and can aid in soil creation and health.