Sustainability at Norrøna: in defence of radical transparency

, June 9, 2017

When exploring prime backcountry in the winter, one key indicator you can use to get a feel for the terrain is to take note of how many flashes of bright checkered ski suits pass by your route. Highly recognisable and now iconic, the colourways from Norway’s Norrøna are distinguished and can often be found seeking out some of the best winter backcountry out there.

In apparel, most brands have come onboard to the fact that producing durable gear with a minimal impact on the planet is probably good business. One approach to incentivising brands is to measure their progress using the the same scale, according to a common set of criteria. You could also argue that bespoke measuring systems provide a surerior path to progress, especially when considering the social impact of production chains that can vary greatly (local v. remote).

This is especially true for brands that defy trends in design, production and distribution. In the case of Norrøna, a clear checklist is hosted on their website, itemizing CSR goals in the lead up to 2020. For them, it’s always been a given that products should be highly durable – their Scandinavian origin suggests this much. Working beyond this principle to reduce impact in their first place is their leading edge.


For Company, Production and Product, they have created checklists covering processes specific to these three pillars. Each criteria is matched by an amount of progress as a percentage of 100%, noted down at the end of each calendar year. The simple layout and granular definition of each category is especially clear, presenting a visualisation that’s legible to the averge consumer.

Here are some highlights:

  • One percent of revenues from 2015 and 2016 were given to organisations working in sustainablity or environmentally friendly projects – a total amout of 4.3 mnok and 5.0 mnok respectively (one Norwegian Kroner is roughly equal to $0.12).
  • 51% of all waste produced in 2016 was recycled – 2017’s goal is 60%, while air freight was used for fewer than 1% of total miles of distribution.
  • In 2016, 90% of factories were audited by a third party provider checking fair labour and environmental standards. The goal for 2017 is to have the entire supply chain audited in a single year.
  • By 2020, Norrøna aim to produce 25% of its product lines during the low season, to reduce excessive overtime and maintain employment levels during quieter times. 2016 saw an 8% spread.
  • In 2014, 16% of their polyster fabrics were made from recycled fibres – 2016’s production saw this increase to 39%.
  • Finally, there is no restriction or goal for the amount of repairs done but the figures are impressive for 2016 – 10,000 repairs, taking a total of five working days to complete.
  • In addition to these figures, Norrøna also lists its entire list of suppliers.

  • What do you think? Should companies develop their own goals and select their own metrics, or should these be spread across multiple brand to educate the consumer more effectively? Email comments to