Green Index® Rating

Timberland is committed to manufacturing products and conducting business in a socially responsible way — and we believe that consumers should ask questions and hold companies accountable for the way they conduct business. In spring 2007, Timberland introduced the “Green Index®” – a measure of the environmental impact of our products. Our goal is to provide consumers with visibility into the footprint our business creates. In 2008 the Green Index® program was applied to a full range of outdoor product from boots to sandals. We aim for all Timberland footwear to be scored using the Green Index® by 2012.

We rate our products on a scale from 0 to 10 using a system created to compare the environmental impact of Timberland® products. The lower the score, the smaller the environmental footprint associated with making it – from raw materials to finished product.

The Green Index® Rating is an average of three key factors:

1. Climate Impact

The greenhouse gas emissions created through production

Greenhouse gases, produced in making raw materials and during footwear production, contribute to climate change. Our Climate Impact rating measures the emissions of these greenhouse gases–from the production of each material to the manufacturing of the finished product.
Timberland calculates a pair of shoe’s climate impact using a software program called GaBi ( We input 1) the finished mass of shoe components, 2) estimated energy use from our footwear factories and 3) publicly or commercially available data sets for the raw materials in our shoes and the electric grid in the regions where we manufacture.

Using this data, and employing an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14000 compliant framework for modeling the environmental inputs and outputs for product construction, GaBi produces a total measure of the greenhouse gases, or “carbon dioxide equivalents,” in kilograms (kg). Greenhouse gas emissions are calculated for each style of shoe being analyzed–from raw materials through production of the finished product.

The greenhouse gas measure then gets converted to our 0 to 10 Green Index® scale. A Climate Impact score of 10 represents the Timberland® shoe that emits the most greenhouse gases during production, which is 100kg or more of CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalents). The numbers between 0-10 represent divisions of the 0-100kg of kg CO2-e scale. To achieve the best score, a 0, the emissions to produce a pair of shoes must be below 2.49 kg of CO2-e. While this methodology represents our best available means to model the climate impact of our product, there are limitations to our approach:

  • The data sets that we used for raw materials in GaBi are not specific to the farms and factories that manufacture materials for Timberland, as this data was not available to us. We used representative, publicly and commercially available data sets for this information.
  • Due to limited data availability or the proprietary constraints of suppliers, some estimation for the composition of certain synthetic materials was made. Sensitivity analysis showed that the categories of materials requiring estimation had little effect on the overall model outcomes.

2. Chemicals Used

The presence of hazardous substances (PVC and Solvent Adhesives)

Chemicals are used in material and footwear production to improve the performance and aesthetics of our product. Timberland is committed to eliminating the use of chemicals linked to human or environmental harm. To that end, the company is developing and using safer, more environmentally friendly substitutes for common footwear components. The components reflected in the Chemicals Used score are polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and solvent-based adhesives.

PVC, a material widely used in footwear and apparel manufacturing, as well as in a host of other industries, has been linked to environmental and health issues. Timberland has voluntarily chosen to phase out PVC from products where alternatives are available. Solvent-based adhesives are used to glue footwear components. They can off-gas volatile organic compounds, (VOCs), which if not treated can produce indoor and outdoor air pollution. In addition, the extra adhesive is considered hazardous waste and requires careful disposal. Our product design team and factory partners help us identify the presence of PVC and solvent-based adhesives in each footwear style. 2.5 points are added if PVC is used in a shoe.

Solvent adhesives are commonly used in three separate areas of the shoe–the upper, the bottom and attaching the bottom to the upper. If solvent adhesives are specified in either the upper, the bottom, or to attach the two 2.5 points are added to the Chemicals Used Score. If solvent adhesives are used in all three, 7.5 points get added to the score.

3. Resource Consumption

The percentage, by weight of recycled, organic and renewable materials

Making a durable product requires quality materials. It’s a resource-intensive process that leaves a significant environmental footprint. We’re focused on making our products from materials that minimize our resource consumption. Our Resource Consumption score measures how successful we are in this endeavor. The score decreases as we use materials that require less land and water and fewer chemicals to produce.

These materials include:

  1. Recycled materials: Materials recycled from consumer and/or industrial waste.
  2. Organic materials: Materials such as organic cotton and wool that are grown and harvested without the use of synthetic chemicals.
  3. Renewable materials: Defined by Timberland as coming from a fast-growing, plant-based material that makes efficient use of non-renewable resources. Examples of these materials include hemp and bamboo.

The Resource Consumption score is created by identifying the weight of components that do not fall into the three categories listed above, then dividing the weight of those components by the overall weight of the shoe. Our 0-10 Green Index® scale goes from 0 representing 100% recycled, organic and renewable material content to 10, which represents the absence of these materials. The numbers in between correspond to the gradations between 0-100 percent.

Timberland considers the Green Index® a starting point on the path to increased sustainability and transparency. Our hope is that other like-minded companies will join us in developing an industry-wide index for comparing the environmental impacts of our design choices. We also hope to inspire consumers to ask questions, and make informed decisions about their purchases.


Using a men’s size 9 or a women’s size 7 of the relevant model, each factor is measured on a scale from 0 to 10 using these formulas:

  • Climate Impact (kg CO2e for shoe)/10, score ≥ 10 =10
  • Chemicals (0 uses = 0, 1=2.5, 2=5, 3=7.5, 4=10)
  • Resources (wt. of non-recycled, organic or renewable material/weight of shoe)*10

The 3 scores are added together and divided by three. The score with the least environmental impact is 0. A score of 10 has the highest impact.

Our measurements are based on samples at the start of production. These may vary slightly as the production process is streamlined or factory origin switched, or due to natural variability in materials.

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