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Fresh Approaches to Managing Fashion’s Footprint

While Burberry delivers another carbon-neutral runway show and works to “inset” its emissions, a new report quantifies the staggering amount of travel emissions generated during a season’s worth of major fashion weeks.

Burberry introduces carbon ‘insetting,’ pulls off another carbon-neutral runway show

Image credit: Burberry

British luxury brand Burberry is taking a new approach to minimizing the environmental impacts of its operations, through “insetting.”

Carbon insetting, as opposed to offsetting, occurs when agroforestry or tree-planting projects are carried out directly within a company’s own supply chain. More than just providing a source of carbon capture, insetting projects work with communities to help augment climate resilience, promote biodiversity, restore ecosystems and support the livelihoods of local producers; as well as storing carbon at source and removing it from the atmosphere.

To this end, the brand has created a “Regeneration Fund” to support future carbon-insetting projects in its global supply chain, starting with wool producers in Australia.

Burberry is partnering with PUR Projet — which works with companies to regenerate the ecosystems they depend upon — to design and implement regenerative agriculture practices with some of its wool producers, to help heal some of the land in fire-ravaged Australia.

To produce Monday’s Autumn/Winter 2020 runway show as a carbon-neutral event (the brand’s second, following its Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in September 2019), Burberry held the show in a certified sustainable venue, prioritizing electric vehicles and not using any air freight. Any remaining carbon emissions will be offset through a savanna fire-management project, which works to reduce the risk of uncontrolled late dry season wild fires in Australia and mitigate damage caused to ecosystems. Burberry also forewent gifts for show guests — opting instead to plant trees in Australia on guests’ behalf to help restore native ecosystems devastated by the recent bushfires.

The approach builds on Burberry’s existing climate commitments approved by the Science Based Target initiative, which apply to Burberry’s scope 1, 2 and 3 operational emissions. The iconic British brand is already carbon neutral in the Americas region, EMEIA retail stores and UK operations; and is on track to achieve its goal of being carbon neutral in its global operations by 2022.

Learn more about Burberry’s carbon-insetting program


New report quantifies travel footprint of major international fashion weeks

Image credit: CPP-Luxury.com

Speaking of runway shows, a new report has for the first time measured the travel carbon emissions of the fashion industry’s attendance at major international fashion weeks — including New York, London, Milan and Paris.

Zero to Market, by fashion technology company ORDRE in collaboration with the Carbon Trust, measured the carbon emissions of buyers from 2,697 retail organisations and 5,096 ready-to-wear designers participating in international fashion weeks, over the four major fashion seasons in a 12-month period.

Combined, the industry emits 241,000 tCO2e a year from the travel associated with wholesale buying practices — equivalent to the annual emissions of a small country, such as Saint Kitts and Nevis; to that of 51,000 cars on the road, or to lighting up New York’s Times Square for 58 years or Paris’ Eiffel Tower for 3,060 years. For an individual fashion buyer, the business travel element of their personal carbon footprint is 12.1 tCO2e — two times higher than the average carbon footprint for a global citizen.

“For decades, the industry has been addicted to the travel associated with participating in the international fashion week circuit,” said Simon P Lock, founder & CEO of ORDRE, which showcases collections online as one way to reduce fashion travel. “For the first time, the carbon impact of this travel has now been quantified. We are an industry that thrives on innovation, and now is the time to start thinking about the business of fashion differently.”

ORDRE is hoping that the report's findings will start an industry-wide debate on the sustainability of the international fashion week circuit and, ultimately, to the adoption of more sustainable business practices — such as collapsing and curating fashion week schedules, or using virtual showrooms as an alternative to travel.

The industry’s leading sustainability body, the Global Fashion Agenda, heralds Zero to Market report as a much-needed resource that will help improve understanding of the real impact of fashion.

“The conversation about the fashion industry’s environmental footprint has focused on the supply chain,” said Global Fashion Agenda CEO Eva Kruse. “However, the entire fashion system has to be taken into account, including the impact of the industry’s mechanism: continuous creation of new collections and trends fueling the demand to present new products, global fashion weeks, trade shows, runway shows and all related travel.”

Read more findings from Zero to Market and download the report here.

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