Doing the right thing, continually innovating and caring about the global community is foundational to AEO’s culture. We pledge to accelerate sustainability improvements across our company.

AEO’s sustainability goals include a comprehensive plan to be carbon neutral by 2030 with a commitment to:

  Water reduction

  Energy reduction

  The use of more sustainable raw materials

Reduce Water

  Reduce water use in our jeans production by 30%

  Increase the amount of water being recycled by our laundries to 50%

  Make sure the water leaving our factories does not pollute the environment

Sustainable Denim Washing

Garment finishing and washing is the last step in the manufacturing process to give our jeans the final look our customers love. We are working with key laundries to implement new technologies and equipment that dramatically decrease the overall water needs for this type of processing. Our laundries have installed new washing machines that use a fraction of the water used by conventional washers, as well as others technologies such as lasers and ozone. Many of our laundries are using Jeanologia’s environmental impact monitoring (EIM) software as an initial step towards measuring and building more sustainable processes. The EIM software assesses the environmental impact of the garment finishing process in four areas: water consumption, energy consumption, chemical use, and worker health.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition

In 2016, we joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), joining a common industry approach for environmental assessments at factories. We are using the SAC’s Higg Index suite of tools to help us measure the environmental impacts of factory operations at over 150 factories, mills and laundries.

AEO’s Water Leadership Program

Apparel production involves a large quantity of water and needs to be treated properly. In 2013, we launched the AEO Wastewater Management Standard to provide factories with guidance on how to properly manage water and make sure that water is safe before it is discharged. Our program is built around wastewater testing, factory training and capacity building so that factories can better protect the environment. Laundries are rated based on their wastewater management, water volume and chemical management.

Besides protecting the environment, effective wastewater treatment also allows for water to be used again in the production process. We are working with our laundries to increase the amount of water that is reused, which will prevent the need to tap into the local water source.

Save Energy

Build on our carbon reduction success (decreased already 32%!)

Achieve carbon neutrality in all of AEO’s owned facilities (offices, stores, distribution centers) and employee travel by 2030

 Reduce carbon emissions 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040 in AEO’s manufacturing

Greenhouse Gas Inventory Assessment

In 2012, we initiated our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Program to reduce our GHG emissions. We set a goal to reduce by 20% and  are proud to report that between 2013 – 2017, AEO decreased its CO₂ emissions intensity by  32% in AEO offices, distribution centers, data centers, and retail stores  in the US and Canada.

In 2019, AEO set a new goal to be carbon neutral in our own operations by 2030. As well as working with our manufacturing suppliers to reduce energy in our production supply chain by 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040.

Renewable Energy

AEO is now sourcing renewable energy for all its offices, distribution center and stores in the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Procurement of this renewable energy is expected to reduce the company’s Scope 2 emissions by 12%.

AEO Hazleton Distribution Center Goes Green

Our Hazleton Distribution Center qualifies for Silver LEED certification by earning points in areas of design, construction materials, and recycling equipment selection that resulted in energy efficiencies and indoor environmental quality.

Smarter Energy Systems

New stores are being built with an Energy Management System (EMS) that allow us to make sure lights and heating/cooling systems are turned off when no one is in the store. It also allows us to identify and diagnose energy anomalies, such as a bad compressor or other equipment failure.

Energy Savings with LED Lights

Since 2014, we’ve changed the lighting in our stores to LED, resulting in savings 3,050 tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to removing 582 cars from the road. We also replaced and installed LED lighting on our Pittsburgh campus, which reduced our energy usage by 40% and will be installing energy saving LED lighting in one of our distribution centers in 2019.

Improve Materials

All cotton used in products will be 100% more sustainably sourced

Use 50% more sustainable polyester

Ensure that 100% of viscose is from non-endangered forests and increase sourcing of sustainably produced viscose fibers

Better Cotton Initiative

We have a goal to source 100% more sustainable cotton by 2023. More sustainable cotton includes BCI, recycled, and organic cotton.

Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance. While it’s not physically traceable, BCI farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in the supply chain in the equivalent volumes to what is sourced.

Recycled Polyester

Post-consumer plastic bottles can be turned into polyester fibers preventing the need to use virgin resources and also keeping bottles out of landfills or the ocean.

We work with Unifi, Inc. and several of our key mills to help us manufacture fabrics containing recycled or waste synthetic raw materials using their recycled fiber called REPREVE®.

Additionally, AEO works with the First Mile initiative. First Mile material is recycled polyester made out of responsibly collected bottles from Haiti, Honduras, and Taiwan. Brands that utilize First Mile material in their products support income generation for people around the world while keeping plastic waste out of landfills and out of our oceans.

Smarter Energy Systems

New stores are being built with an Energy Management System (EMS) that allow us to make sure lights and heating/cooling systems are turned off when no one is in the store. It also allows us to identify and diagnose energy anomalies, such as a bad compressor or other equipment failure.

CanopyStyle Initiative

The world’s Ancient and Endangered forests are irreplaceable. For this reason, AEO is working with the CanopyStyle initiative to eliminate the use of these fiber sources from our clothing–and expand our innovative solutions for our viscose and rayon. The details are contained in our pledge.

Made Real Good™

The “REAL Good” badge was developed to identify AE and Aerie products made from more sustainable raw materials, like recycled fibers, or products that were manufactured using more sustainable techniques, such in a factory that meet expectations for AEO’s Water Leadership Program. REAL Good styles include lots of feel-good, good-for-the-planet materials that have been sustainably produced and/or sourced, such as:

  • Recycled polyester
  • Recycled nylon
  • Cotton that’s recycled, organic, and/or sourced as Better Cotton

Reduce & Reuse

Recycle apparel waste (used or unsold clothes, etc.)

Reduce plastic packaging or more to alternatives with less impact

Convert all labels to sustainably sourced materials

Apparel Recycling

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 32 billion pounds of clothing, shoes, and other textiles end up in landfills in the U.S. each year. We aim to be part of the movement towards a circular economy where pre-loved apparel and footwear can be reused or re-manufactured into new products.

In our stores we have two initiatives for garment collection and recycling. Aerie has engaged with the NGO “Free the Girls” to start a bra give-back program in all stores. Free the Girls turns new or gently used bras into economic opportunity and a path to freedom for sex trafficking survivors.

In April 2019 we started a partnership with the Cotton Inc. program “Blue Jeans Go Green” to collect jeans in our AE stores. Jeans collected through this program are turned into home insulation.

At our corporate offices and distribution centers, we partner with I:CO (I:Collect) to implement a closed-loop recycling program to collect used clothing and shoes. AEO associates can recycle their unwanted clothing, shoes, and textiles on each campus through I:CO. Additionally, in our New York Design Office, any fabric scraps or samples are processed together with the organization Fabscrap to make sure they are properly recycled. Recycled items through these programs are transformed into new products like insulation and even new fabric.

Plastic Packaging

We often receive feedback from our customers on this issue and we want you to know that we hear you! We also want to see how we can impact plastic use in this way. We are currently addressing plastic use in our supply chain by assessing possibilities for converting to recycled plastic or finding opportunities to reduce or eliminate plastic use.

Starting in 2018 we made the move to use shopping bags with a higher percentage of recycled content. It may seem like a small step, but this simple switch has already yielded a sizeable impact by saving 4.3 million square meters of plastic every year.

Sustainably Sourced Labels

We are well on our way to making sure that all labels on AEO products are made using sustainably sourcing raw materials. Aerie labels have already been converted to recycled polyester and American Eagle will have these in production soon. We’re also working to make sure that hangtags and other marketing items are made using the most sustainable materials possible.


Every year through our Clean and Green initiative, we tackle paper recycling on a huge scale across our corporate and distribution locations. We encourage AEO associates to clean-up documents, files, and records. In 2018, the Clean and Green campaign deleted 55 terabytes of electronic storage and recycled 8 tons of physical files.  The paper recycled saved 136 trees, 3,040 gallons of oil and 56,000 gallons of water.

We also work to reduce our footprint through cardboard recycling and reuse by reusing or purchasing used boxes that would otherwise have gone to a landfill.