We use the Environmental Profit and Loss (EP&L) to measure and understand our impact on the environment. But measuring is just the first step, it’s what we do with the information that matters.
The EP&L has shown us that the majority of our impacts are concentrated in what we call Tier 4 – raw material production (i.e. farming, forests, mining, etc.) which is why we are so dedicated to developing and using sustainable material supply chains – to read more about this have a look at our materials and innovation section.
However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have significant impacts in other parts of supply chain. The fashion industry is notorious for the amount of water, energy and chemicals used to process raw materials and produce fabrics. Around 20% of all industrial water pollution in the world comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles.¹
We believe that there is a better, more sustainable, way forward. We are working closely with our suppliers to manage the environmental performance of their facilities. We are also engaged in a number of industry projects such as Cradle to Cradle and Clean by Design which have been developed to improve the environmental impact of the factories we trust to make our fabrics.
Clean by Design
Clean by Design is a programme developed to reduce the environmental impact of textile production in factories. We were the first European partner and the first luxury brand to implement Clean by Design at our textile mills.
When Linda Greer, Senior Scientist at The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), visited China in 2007, she came face to face with one of the fashion industry’s biggest problems: its environmental footprint.
Clothing production uses vast amounts of water and energy. We are seeing unnecessarily large amounts of water used for scouring, dyeing and rinsing which subsequently becomes loaded with chemicals as a consequence. In countries without strict environmental laws, this contaminated water goes back into local waterways. Soil is ruined, agricultural yields diminish, and the health of workers is compromised.
It was this insight that led to the NRDC launching the Clean by Design programme: an easy-to-implement, and low-cost programme to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.
In 2007, NRDC investigated a small number of Chinese dyeing mills to see how they used water, chemicals, materials and energy in order to develop better and more efficient practices. This investigation led to best practices, including capturing heat and recycling water from final rinse cycles, insulating steam systems, and reducing leaks in equipment.
The Clean by Design programme helps factories take real steps towards reducing their environmental footprint while saving money. In 2014 alone, the programmes saved more than 3 million tons of water, 61,000 tons of coal, and almost $15million in production costs.
“What makes Linda’s work for Clean by Design so revolutionary is that it is simple and yet highly effective. I jumped – no, dived – at the chance to be part of it. For me, the purity of the concept is what makes it such a modern approach to improving the planet” – Stella McCartney, 2015, Vanity Fair
Completing an initial round of the programme in 2013, we became the first EU partner and the first luxury brand to implement Clean by Design at our textile mills.
In November 2014, alongside Kering and NRDC’s technical support, we completed an initial pilot phase of the programme and fully launched Clean by Design in 12 of our key textile mills, and 24 of the Kering Group’s. Together, we have implemented over 150 water and energy efficiency actions. By the end of 2016, greenhouse gas emissions at each mill had been reduced by an average 11.5%. All participating mills have stopped using fuel oil which is a fossil fuel and contributes to climate change. Once the mills have implemented their action plans; each mill will be saving on average €39,000.
In 2017, we continued to expand the Clean by Design programme in our supply chain by launching a pilot targeted at our denim laundries. Given the large quantities of water, chemicals and energy required to wash, treat and dry denim, we believe there are good opportunities for Clean by Design to identify savings for laundries.
Reducing our carbon footprint
As a business, we try our best to minimise our carbon emissions. For the greenhouse gas emissions that we do emit through our direct operations and from our supply chain, we purchase REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) offsets from Wildlife Works who fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by preserving threatened forests. This means that for every tonne of carbon dioxide that is released as a result of our operations and production, we fund an equivalent carbon dioxide saving through the Kasigau Corridor project.
The Kasigau Corridor REDD project is protecting 200,000 hectares of dryland forest in south-eastern Kenya that is under intense threat from slash and burn agriculture by providing wildlife friendly economic alternatives to local people. This reduces pressure on the land and forest and has social benefits, for example over 100 women are now employed as seamstresses in our eco-factory, rangers, nursery staff, administrative personnel and teachers.
¹ Estimated by the World Bank