Innovation lies at the heart of Under Armour (UA)—it is the foundation on which our company was built. We are continuing to push toward a new era of sustainability and performance-led innovation by rethinking the life cycle of our products—from design to manufacture, distribution, sale and beyond—to build a sustainable foundation for the generations that follow.
We are committed to increasing our use of recycled polyester to reduce the volume of fibers made from new raw materials in our product portfolio. At the end of 2021, polyester was our most-used material, representing 73% of raw materials in UA apparel and accessory products. It is important to note that while polyester can be recycled repeatedly, some blended fiber fabrics can make recycling difficult or impossible. In certain products, we use the REPREVE® brand of recycled polyester that is traceable through Unifi’s UTRUST certification program and backed by third party verification. In 2021, we received the REPREVE Champions of Sustainability award for diverting plastic bottles from landfills and oceans by reusing them in our shirts. As of 2021, we have used more than 25 million yards of recycled material. From 2018 to 2020, our use of recycled synthetics, including recycled polyester, represented around 2% of the total synthetic yardage we purchased for our products. In 2021, we set a target to increase our use of recycled polyester year-over-year. Based on this new goal, we are forecasting 15% use of recycled polyester content in 2023 for our apparel and accessories, reaching at least 35% by 2025.
Fiber shedding can occur during the manufacturing, use and care of apparel and other products made of synthetic and natural materials, may negatively affect the health of both people and the planet. Shedding may occur in the form of micro-particles or larger particles that can enter water, air, land and systems when they are made, worn and cleaned. Our goal is to ensure that 75% of our fabrics are made of low-shed materials by 2030, as defined by industry-leading guidance on fabric shedding that we will work collectively to shape. We expect our efforts to prevent fiber shedding will reduce our use of staple synthetics, in which the continuous filament has been cut into discrete sections. We also believe this will lead to the development of fleece alternatives that provide comparable comfort, softness and warmth with alternative sanding methods to achieve the softness of fleece with less shedding than typical brushing processes, and partnering with washing machine manufacturers to develop a water filter to trap fibers shed when fabric is washed.
Perfluorinated compounds have been associated with environmental and human health risks. Therefore, we are working to shift our water-resistant products to a Fluorine-free durable water repellent technology. Our new silicone-based, water-resistant products aim to keep athletes dry so they can work harder in wet conditions, while staying comfortable. In 2020, we also introduced low–moisture gain (fiber, yarn and fabric) in our Impasse product line materials, which features unique diamond-shaped fibers that fit together to keep water out—keeping athletes dry and light by not carrying extra water from the outside. Our goal is to eliminate 100% of fluorine DWR in our products by 2025.
We are working to commercialize innovative chemistries that replace metal-based anti-microbial finishes so they cannot be discharged into the environment during garment production and lifespan. We are quickly converting these materials and strive to move away from the use of metal-based anti-microbials by 2025.
Our innovation team is focused on improving fabric dyeing by working to transition to high-performing, more sustainable dyes. We have continued using solution-dyed fabric to advance performance and reduce emissions in our highest-volume color for a portion of accessories, as well as in some footwear. This process eliminates the need for eight hour, high-pressure dye cycles to attain certain hues. In solution dyeing, pigment is added to the raw material before the fiber is made, so the color is already in the yarn before the fabric is produced. This approach offers product performance advantages such as brighter colors and greater lightfastness—the number of daylight hours a fabric can receive before fading—as well as environmental benefits, including improved water quality, reduced water use and less water effluent from mills. We identified certain colors that our primary fabrics can be produced in without wasteful lab dips and thousands of sample shipments—resulting in higher- quality colors, shorter development time and water savings.
At Under Armour, we believe creating sustainable products and relentlessly focusing on performance are perfect complements to one another. Product performance not only delivers quality, comfort and function to our athletes, but it also drives sustainable solutions and vice versa. Our world-class product team continues to advance Under Armour’s goals to create innovative, stylish and sustainable products that help athletes perform their best.
- Lisa Collier, Chief Product Officer
Our planet is our only home field; it’s our collective responsibility to protect and steward it. We are compelled by our values to run farther and faster toward progress. Yet we also know the challenges and opportunities are bigger than any one company, industry or country. That’s why we’re committed to partnering with others in a collective effort to renew the precious resources that we and future generations depend upon.
Our commitment to specific climate targets and milestones allows us to align our business planning with the future we want to see—the best performance imaginable on the cleanest planet Earth possible.
Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer