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Timberland Makes Some Progress on Cutting GHGs While Growing Sales

<p>Emissions ticked up 11 percent in the second quarter at Timberland, a period in which revenue climbed 27 percent.</p>

It's a good sign when business activity picks up and revenues climb, particularly after the economic roller coaster we've ridden the last few years.

Unfortunately, business growth usually means greenhouse gas emissions will grow, too. That's a sober reality even the most green-minded companies must confront.

Case in point: Timberland released its quarterly earnings today, revealing that greenhouse gas emissions ticked up 11 percent in the second quarter of 2011, largely due to increases in air travel and the company's decision to stop buying carbon offsets for its Smartwool operations.

At the same time, Timberland's revenue soared 27 percent in Q2, showing that the company is finding some success in decoupling emissions from business growth. A slight increase in green power purchases -- 14.4 percent in Q2, compared to 12.68 percent in 2010 -- helped.

Timberland expects business to keep growing this year. With its planned efficiency projects and renewable energy purchases, Timberland hopes it can keep emissions static in 2011, relative to 2010 levels.

Timberland, which has long been lauded for its work to reduce supply chain impacts and its non-financial reporting practices, recently pushed back a few climate change-related targets. The company slashed its emissions by 38 percent between 2006 and 2010, a significant achievement but one that fell short of its 50 percent reduction goal. It decided to push back that 50 percent goal to 2015, a period during which it intends to expand its international presence.

Timberland also extended and reduced its 2010 percent green power purchasing goal, from 39 percent by 2010 (it achieved 12.95 percent) to 30 percent by 2015.

We'll have to wait and see if Timberland will be able to pull off a feat many companies have been trying to achieve for years: growing the bottom line without growing its carbon footprint. If a company as progressive as Timberland can't do it, well, it's hard to see how more mainstream companies can either, at least in the short-term future.

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