Although Keen are probably best know for their footwear, bags and back packs is clearly a growth area – and these are increasingly seen here in Australia.

My summary:
Keen is seriously attempting to be an ethical company, benchmarking their impacts (greenhouse emissions, etc) and then setting targets to reduce impact in each area. They are undergoing accreditation for working conditions in factories that produce their gear.

CATEGORY: Activist leader (****).

Sustainability criteria:

For those who are interested, Keen have produced a very in-depth corporate report, which covers their approach to sustainability. As a relatively new company, they are still establishing their reporting framework, and intend to do reports every 2 years. They have produced one to date. For details on accessing the report, check here.

Company vision
“KEEN is more than an outdoor company. We strive to be a company with a conscience, by making a positive difference, giving back to the greater community and caring for the environment which we all share and depend on. We also believe in the power of a brand to inspire others to create positive change in the world we live in”.

  • reporting framework

Keen uses the  The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as it’s framework for its reporting

  • information on resources used – recycled materials, use of renewable materials, etc

Keen is developing baseline info on  five general criteria, including chemicals, air emissions, water, energy, and solid waste.

In addition, “To meet our high-level strategy of reducing our environmental footprint, we’ve identified four key initiatives:

“Further, one aspect of product responsibility is a transparent understanding of the chain of custody for the materials that make up our footwear, bags and socks”. This, in time, will allow the company to bring more recycled and natural content into their products.

  • energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions

“By 2009 we are planning to utilize electricity generated from the Three Gorges Dam’s hydroelectric power plant for a significant portion of our contract manufacturing. This renewable energy source will allow us to cut down on the use of diesel and coal-fired electrical generation in an effort to substantially reduce our GHG emissions. The Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze River in Southern China. The Three Gorges Dam is controversial for its displacement of several million people and loss of numerous valuable archaeological and cultural sites. We are not in a position to change the cultural and environmental impacts of this large hydroelectric project. Using hydroelectric power allows us to reduce  the GHG emissions generated in the production of electricity currently used to build our shoes and bags”.

  • distance travelled

See above – Keen are attempting to reduce their travel footprint of their product (there is substantial information available on p 31 of their CSR report).

  • waste generated
  • water consumption
  • working conditions

“We will promote fair, safe, and healthy work environments related to KEEN.”
“We have begun our accreditation process with the Fair Labor Association (FLA)”.

“The FLA is a nonprofit organization committed to protecting workers’ rights, ending sweatshop labor, and improving working conditions worldwide. The organization is a collaborative effort of colleges and universities, socially-responsible companies, and nongovernment organizations. The FLA conducts independent monitoring and verification to ensure that the FLA’s Workplace Standards are upheld where FLA company products are produced”.

They have carried out an audit of the factories where their product is made. The  are 5 main facilities. Significant issues were found at all facilities, for instance, ‘Workers discriminated against’, ‘Poorly marked fire exits/ no emergency lighting’.

In response, Keen have a requirement that by the end of 2008 all contract production facilities (if more than 20 percent of their total output is dedicated to KEEN) will be certified to Social Accountability International’s standard, called SA8000. Social Accountability International (SAI) is an international non-profit human rights organization dedicated to the ethical treatment of workers around the world.

It is not clear at this point if accreditation has been achieved in all facilities.

  • other environmental claims or benefits

Keen supports a range of initiatives: “ Inspired by the effects of the tsunami disaster in 2004, we have dedicated both time and financial resources to social and environmental organizations actively working towards the greater good. We honor our employees’ commitment to volunteerism, support our local community and embrace corporate responsibility”.
Details here.

  • details on who stocks the item/ where to find it/ where to get further information

Details on finding retailers here.

Mt Bogong from the High Plains, VIC


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