L.L.Bean and the Environment

For 100 years L.L.Bean has been committed to environmental stewardship. We sell products that enhance our customers' relationships with the outdoors, and continually seek to minimize the adverse impacts that producing, marketing and distributing these products may have on the environment. L.L.Bean conducts business in an environmentally responsible manner, using the best practices in our industry. We encourage wise stewardship of natural resources and respect for the environment among all of our stakeholders.

Paper and Sustainable Forest Management

We're committed to working with our suppliers on a continual improvement basis to ensure that our policies related to paper use promote sustainable management of natural resources. By taking an active role in how we procure paper, we can have a positive impact on resource use and forest management. We give preference to suppliers who share these commitments to environmental stewardship, and in particular those who source from the United States.

As a direct marketing company, using paper is critical to our business. We accept our responsibility for careful management of the related environmental impact. L.L.Bean’s paper policy states that 90 percent of the fiber in our catalogs be sourced through a credible certification system and contain 10-20 percent recycled fiber.

In our home state, L.L.Bean promotes forest certification to help protect the long-term health of our Maine forests. We support the Maine Forest Certification Initiative, which is the nation's first state-led forest certification effort. Its goal is to increase the amount of certified fiber available within the state.

L.L.Bean has increased the amount of recycled content in our office paper and we now use 100 percent recycled content in company printers and photocopy machines. Our corporate stationery contains 100 percent post-consumer recycled content and our envelopes are made from 30 percent post-consumer recycled content and produced by a company that uses wind power.

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Sustainable Forest Management

To verify that best practices are employed, we seek third-party certification. We recognize that there are multiple certification systems in place and not all certifications are right for all situations. We give preference to fiber certified under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards when feasible, based on market conditions. More broadly, we look for forest management standards that are based on continuous improvement.

Our goal is to have 90 percent of the fiber in our catalogs either certified under one of the following certification systems or be recycled fiber.

Acceptable Fiber Certification Systems

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
  • Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC)
  • American Tree Farm System (ATFS)
  • Master Logger Programs (MLP)

Requirements for Our Catalog Paper Suppliers

  • Identify all sources of fiber that make up our paper
  • Specify the percentages of fiber from each type of certification system
  • Report on progress toward fiber goals during the year
  • Report on broad environmental goals

Requirements for Fiber

All the fiber used in paper for L.L.Bean catalogs is sourced through a third-party certified, chain of custody system. This ensures that fiber will not come from:

  • Forest areas where traditional or civil rights are violated
  • Uncertified forests with threatened high conservation values
  • Genetically modified (GM) trees
  • Forest areas that have been illegally harvested
  • Natural forests cleared for plantation or other use

We work collaboratively with others in the industry to ensure continuous improvement. We support research and development to continually improve sustainable forest management.

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Responsible Paper Use

L.L.Bean is committed to minimizing the use of catalog paper.

Paper-Use Initiatives

  • A commitment to the use of #5 groundwood paper stock that is over 30 percent more efficient in its fiber consumption than #3 free-sheet papers
  • Ongoing testing of lower basis weight papers to determine their suitability in our catalogs
  • The use of rotogravure printing, which generates less process paper waste and incorporates higher trim efficiency than other forms of printing
  • Significant investment in catalog selection software that allows us to better target our mailings to customers
  • The development and promotion of our Web site to increase migration to online shopping
  • The effective management of the circulation of our catalogs, including an opt-in/opt-out capability
  • Keeping our customer file exceptionally "clean" by industry standards through ongoing investments in software and regular file hygiene maintenance, thus reducing duplicate mailings and undeliverable catalogs
  • Ongoing efforts to reduce the number of catalogs and catalog pages mailed to our customers

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Recycled Content

L.L.Bean will include post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled fiber in catalogs, office papers and packaging when it is available at acceptable quality and cost.

We will continue to actively work with our suppliers to source environmentally preferable paper.

Post-Consumer Waste Content

  • Catalogs: Content 10-20% PCW
  • Order forms: 100% recycled with minimum of 40% PCW
  • Office paper: Minimum 30% PCW; currently at 100%
  • Packaging: Minimum 30% PCW; currently at 100%

Pollution Prevention

L.L.Bean encourages our suppliers to follow sound environmental practices in catalog paper production and printing, and to seek opportunities to reduce pollution.

Pollution Preventive Initiatives

  • Contractually require our printers and catalog paper suppliers to report to us annually on regulatory compliance, significant environmental issues and continual improvement initiatives
  • Encourage environmental best practice initiatives such as implementation of environmental management systems (i.e., ISO 14001, EPA's Performance Track Program)


In the spirit of continual improvement, we regularly communicate with our stakeholders. This includes publicly posting our Paper Procurement Policy on our Web site and annually reviewing our progress in meeting the policy with the L.L.Bean Environmental Stewardship Committee. We work collaboratively with stakeholder groups to find responsible solutions to environmental issues and incorporate them into our paper procurement policy, and we require our suppliers to confirm annually that they are in conformance with this policy.

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Climate Change

L.L.Bean has always been committed to protecting and preserving our natural environment as demonstrated through our ongoing Environmental Charitable Giving efforts, and we strive to promote environmental stewardship throughout our business. It's important to us to minimize the impact our operations and the products we make have on the global climate. We also realize the need to address the issue of climate change.

In early 2007, L.L.Bean joined the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Leaders program. Climate Leaders was a voluntary partnership between industry and government that encouraged companies to develop long-term strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also partnered with groups like Clean Air-Cool Planet to provide expertise and resources related to the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas reduction. (In 2010, the EPA began phasing down services the agency provides under the program, including technical assistance. The agency will assist partners to find non-federal programs that will allow partners to go above and beyond mandatory reporting requirements. L.L.Bean will continue to work with the EPA through other programs such as Energy Star and the Green Power Partnership. Subsequently, L.L.Bean is currently using a third-party environmental engineering firm to verify company carbon emission measurements.)

Our annual greenhouse gas measurement includes an extensive inventory of emissions from all of our US facilities and vehicles. In the future, we plan to measure areas where we do not have direct control, such as employee commuting and the efforts of our vendors.

Greenhouse gas reduction projects for 2010 included adding solar hot water collectors to the Freeport flagship store to generate hot water to the store's showers, sinks and two cafés. The system is designed to produce enough hot water to reduce -- and on some days eliminate -- the need for back-up propane-fired water heaters. We upgraded lighting fixtures in over a dozen facilities, eliminating approximately 1,000 metric tons of carbon. We converted heating systems at all Freeport facilities to natural gas. Although it's a fossil fuel, switching to natural gas will allow us to eliminate 1,500 metric tons of carbon from our total emissions. We have planned additional projects for 2012 and 2013 to allow us to reach or exceed our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2012.

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Energy Conservation

L.L.Bean has always approached energy conservation as part of good business. Our successful program to improve energy efficiency includes:

  • Energy sensors in offices and buildings throughout the company
  • Energy management systems that measure and control temperature and humidity
  • Ongoing replacement of lighting fixtures and bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives

Most of our corporate buildings use motion sensor light switches as another way to save energy. All newer equipment, appliances and computers are Energy Star rated. As we remodel restrooms throughout our facilities, we are using waterless urinals, ultra low-flow toilets and other low-flow fixtures to conserve water.

Since 1982, L.L.Bean has been using solar power to heat all the hot water for our corporate headquarter offices in Freeport, Maine. This solar hot water is supplied to corporate restrooms and employee showers.

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Green Building

As we grow our business, it's important to build in harmony with the environment. In 2006, L.L.Bean committed to build all new structures according to the US Green Building Council's LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – building rating system. This is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

L.L.Bean now has 13 retail stores and two outlet stores built and registered to LEED standards. Two stores have received Gold LEED certification and eight have received Silver, including L.L.Bean's Hunting & Fishing Store in Freeport, Maine. The Hunting & Fishing Store was the first LEED-certified retail project in Maine and the first of our LEED-registered projects to receive certification. Learn more.

Retails stores aren't our only focus. Our Data Center in Freeport, Maine, completed in June 2008, is the first data center in New England to be designed and constructed to LEED standards. It received Silver certification in 2009.

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Transportation and Alternative Fuel Use

In 2003, L.L.Bean converted its heavy-duty truck fleet to biodiesel fuel. Made from vegetable oil or animal fats, this alternative fuel is formulated exclusively for diesel engines. We use B20 biodiesel, a mixture of 20 percent nonpetroleum-based diesel fuel and 80 percent conventional petrodiesel. Biodiesel can also be used in our fleet of buses that supports our Outdoor Discovery Schools®.

In 2008, we began adding hybrid gas/electric vehicles to our fleet. We continue to review alternative fuel trends and monitor the market for commercial-grade alternative fuel vehicles. Because company vehicles must be replaced from time to time, we review criteria such as mileage performance, size and intended use as buying guidelines.

We are working with our suppliers and partners to develop strategies to limit emissions and the environmental impact associated with the freight and cargo business. Our support of Friends of Acadia (through a $3.25 million dollar donation) helps provide a fleet of 30 ecofriendly propane buses used in Acadia National Park and nearby communities. The fleet has reduced traffic, emissions and pollutants. In fact, since the program's creation, these ecofriendly buses have:

  • Carried over 4 million passengers
  • Reduced private vehicles by more than 1.3 million
  • Eliminated over 20 tons of smog-causing pollutants
  • Reduced almost 13,000 tons of greenhouse gases

In 2008, L.L.Bean created ECOBean, our Employee Commuting Options program, to help L.L.Bean employees address concerns such as our impact on the environment and the rising costs of fuel. We partnered with Go Maine, a Maine state database to help match those who wish to carpool. Employees who carpool also enjoy designated parking spaces at our office complexes in Maine.

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Corporate Recycling Program

In the late 1980s, L.L.Bean established an aggressive corporate recycling program. It continues to be successful today because of the efforts of our employees. Environmentally responsible employees throughout the company have volunteered to be "Green Ambassadors" for their departments to help promote L.L.Bean's environmental and recycling efforts. We have recycling stations throughout every L.L.Bean facility, where our employees recycle office and computer paper, magazines, catalogs and newspapers, as well as bottles and cans.

We currently recycle over 83 percent of our waste. In addition, in Maine, company office supplies and equipment that are no longer needed are donated to Ruth's Reusable Resources, a Maine nonprofit group that distributes supplies to public schools in the state. In 2010, L.L.Bean partnered with Goodwill Industries Northern New England's ReConnect program to responsively recycle outdated computers and computer equipment, diverting e-waste from landfills. At L.L.Bean, we use recycled printer toner cartridges and recycle most of those cartridges through our vendor.

Our Order Fulfillment Center, which processes and ships all L.L.Bean customer orders, recycles over 5,000 tons of cardboard annually. In 2008, we began using a new machine that transforms plastic scraps from our automatic packing process into plastic pellets. Instead of winding up in a landfill, the pellets are returned to our vendor and made into plastic shipping bags for us.

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Packaging Reduction

L.L.Bean is focused on reducing packaging and shipping materials, and we've made great strides in this area. All of our corrugated shipping boxes are 100 percent recycled Kraft paper, and contain at least 80 percent post-consumer waste.

All of our gift boxes and tissue paper are 100 percent recycled. Our plastic shipping bags are made from 35 percent recycled content and can be recycled in communities that accept #4 plastic recyclables. We switched from plastic to paper shopping bags at all retail stores and increased the recycled content to 100 percent. We are exploring ways to further reduce packaging, and working with our suppliers to make sustainable choices regarding package design.

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Sustainable and Innovative Products

Under the direction of L.L.Bean's Green Task Force – a cross-functional work group – our product merchandisers and designers continue to create innovative products that are produced with environmental sustainability in mind.

In 2002, L.L.Bean joined other large retailers in a voluntary effort to ban substances from manufacturing that could pose health and environmental risks. We introduced a Restricted Substance List (RSL) to our suppliers that requires them to limit or find substitutes for potentially harmful chemicals such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride). L.L.Bean continues to work with other companies through the American Apparel and Footwear Association, a group of companies that shares best practices with regard to restricted chemicals.

We continue to seek collaborative efforts to reduce the impact of our products. In 2011 we joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a group of leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with a goal of reducing the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world.

In 2008, we joined Textile Exchange, a nonprofit organization committed to expanding organic agriculture, with a specific focus on increasing the production and use of organically grown fibers, such as cotton. Textile Exchange brings together brands and retailers with their business partners, farmers and key stakeholders to learn about the social and environmental benefits of sustainable agriculture and to develop new business models and tools that support greater use of organic inputs. L.L.Bean's Wood Furniture Policy ensures all the wood furniture products we sell only contain wood from certified, sustainably harvested forests.

L.L.Bean is committed to selling products that are manufactured under legal, safe and fair working conditions. To this end, we have a well-established labor code of conduct that serves as a basis of our vendor relationships.

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L.L.Bean Can Make a Difference

We believe we're making steady progress in minimizing our business impact on the environment. We also realize this is an ongoing challenge, and we're committed to continue to seek ways to improve our environmental stewardship. Please check back periodically for updates on our progress.