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Supply Chain
Fashion Giants Lining Up with Science-Based Targets

As Levi Strauss moves forward with its industry-leading climate action strategy, PUMA and Burberry are following suit with SBTi-approved science-based targets of their own.

Levi Strauss partners with IFC to reduce emissions, water use in textile factories

In 2018, Levi Strauss set a high bar for the fashion industry when it announced a new climate action strategy, complete with aggressive science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions throughout its entire global supply chain, not just its owned-and-operated facilities, by 2025. Now, the apparel brand has announced the latest step in the strategy — a cooperation agreement with International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, that will help the company meet its corporate sustainability objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and water use in its supply chain.

IFC will work with 42 designated LS&Co. suppliers and mills in 10 countries to identify and implement appropriate renewable energy and water-saving interventions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The work — which will take place in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Mexico, Lesotho, Colombia, Turkey, Egypt and Vietnam — will incorporate IFC’s Partnership for Cleaner Textiles approach for reducing resource consumption and wastewater pollution. IFC and LS&Co. are jointly contributing to the costs for implementing the agreement.

IFC will assess supplier and mill facilities to identify actions that can be taken to catalyse substantial environmental benefits — including reduced emissions, improved water efficiency and wider adoption of renewable energy supply options. As the largest global development institution, with deep sectoral and wide regional expertise, IFC is well placed to provide support to this important and necessary initiative.

“Levi's strong commitment to sustainability makes it an ideal partner for IFC,” said Tomasz Telma, senior director of manufacturing, agribusiness and services at IFC. “This cooperation agreement shows how IFC can deliver advisory and investment products that help our partners strengthen the sustainability of their supply chains.”

The global textiles, apparel and footwear industry is a major driver of industrialization and economic growth in many countries, employing 60 million people, the majority of them women. But the industry also contributes as much as 8 percent of total GHGs and uses sizable amounts of water in the cotton farming and textile production phases.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the IFC to help achieve our science-based climate targets and benefit our vendors and their communities,” said Liz O’Neill, EVP of global product and supply chain at LS&Co. “We hope this program can also benefit others in the apparel industry and help reduce our collective footprint.”

In 2017, IFC and LS&Co. launched a pilot cooperation agreement that helped six LS&Co. suppliers in four countries — Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam — cut their carbon footprint by 19 percent and reduce energy and water consumption, leading to significant savings in operating costs. IFC has also been working with LS&Co. to provide financial incentives for garment suppliers in developing countries to upgrade environmental, health and safety and labor performance through its Global Trade Supplier Finance program.

“Across the corporate world, people are waking up to the fact that better sustainability performance drives better business performance,” said Michael Kobori, LS&Co.’s VP of Sustainability. “Vendors in resource-stressed countries have shown the ability to innovate based on conditions on the ground, but in some cases, they need some assistance to make it work. This program provides that assistance, which benefits not just those companies, but also people living in those communities, as well as LS&Co.”

Burberry announces science-based targets

Image credit: Burberry

After last year’s PR nightmare, when it admitted to incinerating millions of dollars in unsold merchandise, Burberry appears to be turning over a new leaf this year — with the release of its 2022 Responsibility Strategy and two new, ambitious climate goals approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi):

  • Reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 emissions (from direct operations) 95 percent by 2022 from a 2016 base year

  • Reduce absolute scope 3 emissions (from supply chain) 30 percent by 2030 from a 2016 base year

This expands the reach of the company’s existing goal to become carbon neutral in its operational energy use by 2022; it is already carbon neutral across the Americas region, EMEIA retail stores and UK operations. The targets covering GHGs from Burberry’s operations (scopes 1 and 2) are consistent with reductions required to keep warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

The brand says it is also on track to achieve its RE100 commitment to go 100 percent renewable, as it now obtains 58 percent of its total energy (including 68 percent of electricity) from renewable sources. During 2018/19, the iconic UK fashion brand achieved a 43 percent reduction in market-based emissions compared to the 2016/17 base year.

“At Burberry, we are passionate about building a more sustainable future, and setting these new targets in line with the latest climate science is an important milestone for us,” said Pam Batty, Burberry’s VP Corporate Responsibility. “For the first time, we are setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions that apply to our extended supply chain, which is a significant addition to our already ambitious target of becoming carbon neutral in our own operational energy use by 2022. Changing the system requires collaboration, and we will be working closely with our supply chain partners to take the action needed to stay on track and achieve our goals.”

The SBTi defines and promotes best practice in science-based target-setting, offers cutting-edge resources and expert guidance to reduce barriers to adoption, and independently assesses and approves companies’ targets. It is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

“The fashion industry’s environmental impact is significant and growing,” said Cynthia Cummis, Director of Private Sector Climate Mitigation at WRI. “Burberry’s ambitious science-based target demonstrates the leadership and innovation needed to succeed in a zero-carbon world. To prevent catastrophic climate change, it’s important that all major apparel and footwear brands set science-based targets and pursue comprehensive strategies to decarbonize their businesses.”

PUMA aims for 35% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030

Image credit: PUMA

Meanwhile, sportswear giant PUMA — which was at the forefront of environmental accounting with the release of its EP&L in 2011 — has committed to reduce emissions from owned and operated facilities, as well as its energy needs (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) by 35 percent by 2030, compared to 2017. The company also aims to reduce Scope 3 emissions, coming from purchased goods and services, by 60 percent per Million € in sales between 2017 and 2030.

“Recent scientific reports have highlighted the need for urgent action, as global warming is happening at a faster pace than previously anticipated,” said Stefan Seidel, PUMA’s Head of Corporate Sustainability. “That is why PUMA wants to be a part of the solution by setting a bold path towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

PUMA, Burberry and Levi Strauss all play a leading role in the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, which was introduced at COP24 in Poland last year.

“We know that the fashion industry has a significant impact on the environment, but rapid growth in global apparel and footwear production shows no signs of slowing,” WRI’s Cummis said. “We need more companies in the industry to follow PUMA’s lead and pursue comprehensive strategies to decarbonize and do their part to prevent catastrophic climate change.”