AFTCO has a long legacy of leadership in marine conservation, taking immense pride in an unwavering commitment to preserving our fishing resources. Since 1973, that conservation leadership has been demonstrated through the company’s 10% Pledge to Protect & Conserve.
A New Commitment to a More Sustainable Business Model
AFTCO recently announced their sustainability pledge, a commitment to reducing their operational and environmental impacts on oceans, rivers, lakes, and land. This effort focuses on four main pillars: manufacturing processes, products, packaging, and day-to-day operations.
Sustainability: Results Thus Far
Nearly 30% of AFTCO’s 2022 sportswear collection incorporates recycled materials, building upon their ICAST 2021 New Product Showcase Best In Category award-winning Rescue ECONYL® Fishing Shorts (Lifestyle Apparel) and Adapt Tactical Performance Shirt (Technical Warm Weather Apparel). Along with a growing assortment of more sustainable products, some of AFTCO’s most popular styles like the Samurai Hooded Sun Protection now feature recycled polyester.
Sustainability: What’s Ahead
Moving forward, AFTCO continues to research and innovate with plans to expand sustainable materials in their 2023 product line with the addition of REPREVE® and Cocotex® fabrics. The company is striving for approximately 50% of new 2023 sportswear offerings to include recycled or more sustainable fabric alternatives, followed by incremental improvements year after year. AFTCO’s goal is for all sportswear styles to feature traceable post-consumer recycled hangtags will be achieved by 2023. These initiatives and more will officially launch next month at ICAST 2022.
What AFTCO Has learned
AFTCO recognizes that they are in the beginning stages of this journey, acknowledging the leadership of other fishing and outdoor brands that have paved the way before them. The adage, “Progress, not Perfection,” certainly applies. It starts with recognizing the simple fact that everything AFTCO produces ultimately leaves an impact.
According to AFTCO President Casey Shedd, “It is important to focus on the specific problems your company is looking to address. For us, a significant focus area has been ocean plastic pollution. While plastic pollution is a global issue often stemming most severely from countries without proper infrastructure, we can all do our part.” AFTCO stresses the importance to start small and find ways to minimize impact.
AFTCO’s Three Overarching Goals
- Increase the use of recycled materials in products and packaging to help reduce waste, ease pressures on freshwater resources, and lower demand for virgin resources.
- Reduce reliance on single-use plastics and eliminate unnecessary plastic in products and packaging to address land-based sources of plastic pollution.
- Lower carbon emissions to address ocean acidification and warming waters that negatively impact ecosystems that fish rely on.
Finding Conservation Partners That Share AFTCO’s Goals
AFTCO believes it is key to align with conservation partners that share similar goals.
The Coastal Conservation Association is dedicated to “ensuring the health and conservation of our marine resources and anglers’ access to them.” AFTCO is particularly excited about CCA’s 501(c)(3) Building Conservation Trust (BCT) for their work around oysters. Oyster reefs help to mitigate carbon emissions, and a single oyster can filter more than fifty gallons of water per day while generating co-benefits such as increased recreational opportunities and storm protection. The BCT is currently funding a potentially breakthrough research project to review and synthesize the scientific literature on carbon sequestration services provided by oyster reefs.
Water quality is another critical issue, and AFTCO stresses the need to speak up for clean water. Water mismanagement in Florida, for example, has far-reaching impacts, and a group making particularly powerful inroads on that front is Captains For Clean Water.
Finally, there are grassroots groups AFTCO believes are making particularly impactful progress on education and action around waterway cleanups. Inspired by leadership from Yamaha, AFTCO has supported the lake cleanup efforts of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and the B.A.S.S Nation.
Unwavering Ethos Committed to Conservation & Sustainability
AFTCO is proud to demonstrate a commitment to increasing the amount of recycled material in their products. In the same manner, they have dedicated time, talent, and treasure to conservation issues around clean water and healthy fish populations. Through their 10% Pledge to Protect & Conserve, they aim to raise the bar for building a sustainable business within the fishing industry.