Gap Inc. Execs to Be Questioned About High Costs of Sustainability Efforts

05/14/2015 11:25

by David Almasi


San Francisco / Washington, D.C. -  The National Center for Public Policy Research plans to question GAP Inc.'s Chief Executive Officer Glenn Murphy over the clothing retailer's sustainability campaign at the company's annual shareholder meeting in San Francisco, California.

GAP is a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) - one of the country's largest trade organizations, representing more than 200 companies and many of the largest American retail chains. Recently, RILA began pressuring its membership to adhere to the association's new sustainability policy. This policy directs retailers to reduce their "carbon footprint" through reduced "greenhouse gas" emissions. It also sets up adherence to sustainability standards that involves the possible redesign and rating of products.

"Do GAP customers want to pay more for a pair of jeans or a shirt if they come with a 'sustainability' label on them? I doubt it," said National Center General Counsel Justin Danhof. "RILA's sustainability standards, if fully implemented, would cause production costs to skyrocket as suppliers pay more for compliance, parts, packaging and staffing. This would wreak havoc on small suppliers and consumers alike." To learn more about RILA's sustainability push, read here.

GAP's suppliers will bear the initial costs to leap over RILA's self-imposed green hurdles. And some smaller suppliers that cannot meet these increased demands may be forced to close up shop. Either way, once these new "sustainable" products reach the market, GAP's customers will bear the burden at the checkout line.

"GAP's executives need to explain to their shareholders why they are advancing policies that would harm their small suppliers and customers," said Danhof. "RILA and its member companies are trying to "greenwash" their souls over some perceived guilt over selling consumer products. But while they tout themselves as environmental stewards, they wont bear any of the associated costs. Instead, they will ask their customers to fork over more of their hard-earned money for essentially the same product they could buy for less today. These large retailers are no better than Hollywood hypocrites that live in the lap of luxury and then purchase carbon offsets to 'do their part' for the environment."

"Small business strength and consumer spending are important drivers of the American economy. GAP and RILA should reexamine this new sustainability effort and focus on pro-growth and pro-consumer reforms," said Danhof.

In 2012, Danhof attended the shareholder meeting of CVS Caremar, another RILA member company. To read more about those efforts, see here.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a GAP Inc. shareholder.