Mother Nature means business. Words like “green” and “eco-friendly” have become standard lingo among companies in many markets – and arguably an obligation in the outdoor recreation industry. The environment is a growing priority in sustaining both business and life, and for Winnebago Industries, that doesn’t just mean awareness – it means taking responsibility.
“As an outdoor lifestyle company, the long-term sustainability of our business is really linked to the environment,” says Katy Friesz, Winnebago’s vice president of corporate responsibility.
Friesz joined the RV manufacturer in 2018. Her team was tasked with building upon its sustainable practices, sparking a newly focused journey that led to Winnebago’s first published Corporate Responsibility Report in 2019. The trend spread throughout the RV industry, with other manufacturers such as REV Group, Patrick Industries and THOR releasing their own reports. Winnebago’s rendition unveiled an underlying goal for the company – having a big footprint, minus the carbon.
“We conducted what’s called an ESG (environmental, social, governance) materiality assessment. The main purpose was to identify and focus on the issues that we can have the most impact on,” Friesz says. “We conducted stakeholder interviews and did some research around the competitive landscape, what’s happening in the industry and what matters to our consumers and our employees.”
“We’re thinking a lot about waste management and circularity. We’re thinking about our product and product stewardship, with offerings that are zero- and low-emission. We’re also thinking about sustainable procurement and supply chain – making sure that the elements in our products are moving toward sustainable and eco-aware components,” Friesz says.
The company plans to refresh its materiality assessment before the end of 2024 and will continue to set climate targets aligned with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
When it comes to sustainability of all kinds, Winnebago’s priorities are truly about ethics and responsible business, Friesz says – which means evolving policies and procedures.
“Because really, corporate responsibility is about putting our company values into action,” Friesz says. “We care deeply about the environment. Our owners care deeply about the environment. It’s important to us to think about everything varying from product innovation to operational and manufacturing efficiencies.
“We have been working over the past several years to set meaningful goals and move forward in this journey, because as you know, environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility don’t happen overnight. It really is a journey – and one that we’re excited to be committed to.”
Read the full article from RV PRO here.