Solar panels and windwills with the sunset behind them
Climate Action
The effects of climate change are being felt throughout the world. As part of the global community, we have a responsibility to act. This means drastically reducing emissions across our value chain and aligning our efforts with global climate goals. We are making steady progress toward our RE100 goal and submitted new science-based targets to the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) for review in 2022, including aggressive reduction goals across our Scope 3 emissions. We are active participants in important industry collaborations, like the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and the Outdoor Industry Association Climate Action Corps.

Our Climate Strategy

Our climate strategy focuses on six critical areas where we can influence meaningful change:

  1. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: The pathway to net zero starts with energy. We are working across our value chain to use less energy and shift toward renewables. 
  2. Materials: Everything we make has an impact. We are prioritizing materials with lower impacts and finding ways to use less.
  3. Longevity and Circularity: We are challenging ourselves to break cycles of consumption that end at the landfill by making products that last longer and extending product use.
  4. Advocacy: We promote broader climate action by engaging governments to enact better climate policy, supporting advocacy groups and building climate awareness and action among our consumers.
  5. Land Use: Land use plays a central role in addressing climate change, so we’re working to eliminate deforestation throughout our supply chain and explore the role of regenerative agriculture.
  6. Low Carbon Transportation: Moving goods to global markets has a significant carbon footprint. We are improving our data systems to better understand sources of emissions and reduce them.  

Carbon Emissions

Scope 1 and 2 

In 2022, our total emissions from Scope 1 and 2 activities, which include those from our offices, distribution centers, retail stores, and owned-manufacturing sites, were 4,332 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e). This is a 57% reduction from 2021 and a 72% reduction from our 2019 baseline year, exceeding our 2030 60% reduction goal. Looking closer, Scope 1 emissions increased by 24%, while our Scope 2 emissions decreased 98% because of increased renewable electricity purchasing. In 2022, 98% of our global electricity use was sourced from renewables, up from approximately 60% in 2021. We are still heavily reliant on energy attribute certificates, like Green-e certified Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), I-RECs, and Guarantees of Origin (GOs).  

Scope 3

Scope 3 emissions account for nearly 99% of our total climate footprint. Our biggest Scope 3 impacts are related to the energy used across our Tier 1 and Tier 2 supply chain, the materials we use to make products and the transportation of those products around the world. In 2022, our total Scope 3 emissions were 1.4 million MTCO2e. Our Scope 3 reduction goal (50% by 2030) applies only to Categories 1 and 4, which represented 84% of our total Scope 3 in 2022. Overall, Scope 3 performance is not on track. Categories 1 and 4 increased 13% from 2021 and 21% since 2019. Category 1, our biggest impact area, increased 15% from 2021 and 16% from our 2019 baseline, driven by volume growth and associated increases in material use and manufacturing energy. Our most recent CDP Report has a full explanation of our carbon emissions and sources. In 2020 and 2021, we received a B from CDP for carbon emissions, risks, and opportunities disclosures. 

Buildings with solar panels on the roofs
Prioritizing Renewable Energy
New Balance works closely with suppliers to improve energy efficiency and accelerate their transition to renewable energy. On-site solar generation is a highly effective way to significantly reduce emissions at supplier factories. By working with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH’s Energy Support Programme, we supported the development of 8 additional rooftop solar systems in 2022 at Tier 1 and Tier 2 facilities. As an RE100 member, we have set a goal to source 100% renewable electricity for our owned operations by 2025. We source renewable electricity using several strategies, including generating on-site renewable electricity and purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Guarantees of Origin (GOs). At our Flimby UK factory, rooftop solar provides approximately 30% of the electricity and a future wind turbine will provide 100%. As part of Maine’s Net Energy Billing program, we joined a consortium of public and private buyers supporting the construction of four solar projects in Maine. If all four projects are successful, we expect to meet roughly 70% of the current electricity demand of our Maine facilities from these contracts.
1% for the planet logo
Climate Advocacy
We have ambitious goals that require collaboration in order to achieve them. New Balance is working with host governments and like-minded companies to facilitate rapid deployment of clean energy in Southeast Asia through organizations like the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Corporate Clean Energy Alliance and U.S. Department of State‘s Clean Energy Demand Initiative (CEDI). We have also been a proud member of 1% for the Planet since 2020. We donate 1% of sales from select product lines to support nonprofit organizations working on climate change and protecting public lands. Our current program started in 2022 and runs through June 2023, during which New Balance donates 1% of MSRP from all Fresh Foam X Hierro v7, Fresh Foam X Hierro Mid, and Fresh Foam X Hierro GTX sold in the U.S. to 1% for the Planet, supporting Protect Our Winters and Trust for Public Land.
Stream of water pouring into pool of blue water with bubbles
Water
Leather tanning and textile processing can be water intensive, so we’re working with our material suppliers to understand and manage water impacts throughout our supply chain. We assess water-related risks at our most important material suppliers based on volume of water use, geographic location, regulatory violations and stringent wastewater discharge requirements. We’re committed to using less freshwater and ensuring that any water we do use is clean when discharged back into the environment.

Wastewater

New Balance played a leading role in developing the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. Launched in 2017, the guidelines serve as a cohesive standard that can be used industrywide. Our suppliers undergo testing twice a year to ensure their conformance with the guidelines. Our goal is to eliminate the discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2025, measured according to the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. As of 2022, 91% of our participating suppliers were in conformance. Of the suppliers that discharge directly into the environment, 85% were in conformance. 

In 2022, our most common findings resulted from the use of Perfluorochemicals (PFCs). Though PFCs are a chemical class banned in manufacturing by our RSL, they are still sometimes found in wastewater testing. This may occur because the PFCs were present in incoming water or if the supplier is shared with other brands or industries that do not prohibit their use. All six violations identified in 2022 were remediated."

IPE Screenings

We use the Blue Map Database, developed by the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE), to screen China-based supplier facilities for any known violation records, including wastewater issues. Violations have been decreasing since 2018. In 2022, we identified 11 violations and then helped suppliers identify the cause and remediate. The diligence contributed to IPE ranking us 4th in their 2022 Green Supply Chain Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI) Evaluation report, out of over 600 companies operating in China across all industries. 

Pile of white foam scraps on factory table
Waste
We are challenging ourselves to break free from consumption cycles that end at the landfill. We’re developing products that last longer, repurposing factory waste into useful materials and finding new ways to recycle your New Balance gear when you’re done with it.

Zero Waste to Landfill from Footwear Factories

Making footwear can generate a tremendous amount of waste, often in locations without sophisticated waste management infrastructure. We’ve set a goal to achieve zero waste to landfill from all our Tier 1 footwear factories by 2025. This is a massive effort that mandates change across the entire product creation process to reduce waste at the source and find ways to turn unavoidable waste into new materials.  

Our goal is to reach zero waste to landfill by 2025, relying on at least 30% WTE in some regions. We will then further reduce WTE reliance, ultimately capping it at 10% by 2030. 

Pieces of shoe material scraps layed out
Designing out Waste
Our factories build what we design. Some waste creation at the factory can be tied back to early decisions in the design process. To help reduce material waste at the factory, our internal design teams are rethinking how we design product to drive better material efficiency and eliminate unnecessary waste. In 2022, we created a Less Waste Design Guide to educate and empower footwear designers. When waste is created, we investigate closed-loop solutions that can allow it to be repurposed and turned into a new material or feedstock. We have introduced a regrind process with our suppliers in which post-industrial rubber waste and EVA waste are incorporated into some new outsoles and midsoles, respectively.

Wear Longer, Waste Less

Our industry has a waste problem. For too long, we have consumed resources to produce short-lived goods without enough consideration of longevity and disposal. We’re working to change this. The most sustainable shoe is one that already exists. 

Consumers have few options for responsible disposal when a product reaches the end of its life or they are simply done using it. While some individual materials can be recycled, the infrastructure and technology for recycling whole products — especially shoes — is still largely in its infancy. We are pursuing several initiatives to extend shoe lifetimes, including shoe repairs in Japan, in-store cleaning in the UK, and recommerce opportunities in the U.S.