The impact of our material use
Our Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) is a form of natural capital accounting that gives us a transparent and quantifiable understanding of the environmental impacts produced across our supply chains. We start with the production of our raw materials and go all the way through our supply chain to the sale of our products. The EP&L has helped us make more informed decisions about our product design, sourcing decisions, manufacturing and research and development.
We are happy to present the results of our Environmental Profit and Loss for the first time. Our global Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) account for 2015 is estimated to be €5.5m.
This is the third time we have a completed the EP&L and over the past three years we have been using it track the environmental impact of our materials and what we have seen is a reduction of 35% of our average environmental impact per kg of raw material. This reduction is illustrated in the video above.
Leather vs. polyester
The EP&L has shown us that our environmental impact is most highly concentrated at the raw material stage. The changes that we have made in how and where we source our raw materials has helped us reduce our environmental impact over the past 3 years.
We are a vegetarian brand that has never used leather, fur or skins in our products. This is a decision that we have always stood by both for ethical and environmental reasons. Kering’s EP&L at a group level has helped us to directly compare the impact of the synthetic alternatives that we use to the impacts of leather use.
We have found that leather impacts are driven by land use and greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal rearing, as well as the energy use and water consumption requirements of tanneries. For example in Brazil, the cattle industry has been a driver of deforestation – resulting in a loss of important ecosystem services and is inefficient in terms of production per hectare. As a result, leather from Brazil has very high environmental impact per kg when compared to synthetic alternatives. This is shown in our Leather vs. Polyester video.
The impact of cashmere
Out of all the raw materials we use, cashmere has the highest environmental impact per kilogram—roughly 100 times the impact of wool. Our Impact of Cashmere video illustrates the impact per kilogram of cashmere compared to wool and regenerated cashmere. As a brand, we are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact, and as a result, we no longer use virgin cashmere in our knitwear collections. Instead, we are now using regenerated cashmere yarn called Re.Verso™ made from post-factory waste in Italy that has an 87% reduction in environmental impact when compared to virgin cashmere.
It takes 4 goats to produce enough fibre to make a single cashmere sweater – compare that to wool, where 1 sheep produces enough fibre to make up to 5 sweaters. This is why cashmere has traditionally been considered a luxury fibre. However, today casual cashmere products are widely available as affordable goods. This increase in the global demand for cashmere has resulted in an increase in the goat population, which is destroying the grasslands in Mongolia.
Cashmere is just one example of how we have used the EP&L to better inform our sourcing decisions. We are using the EP&L to evaluate how we source all of our key raw materials and this has helped us to truly get to know our supply chains. Since we began using the EP&L, we have gained traceability to farm level for many of our key raw materials such as viscose, wool and cotton.