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Cotton

Focus Areas

Cotton is used to make gabardine, the iconic fabric invented by our founder Thomas Burberry in 1879. Tightly woven in Burberry’s Yorkshire Mill, this breathable and lightweight fabric has been used in our trench coats for over 100 years and is the foundation of many of our products today.

Cotton production and global demand have significantly changed since we first manufactured gabardine. Today, conventional cotton farming can have significant environmental and social impacts arising from the amounts of water, fertilisers and pesticides used in cultivation, as well as the energy-intensive processes of spinning, weaving and dyeing cotton.

Our commitments and activities

We are committed to reducing these environmental impacts to secure a sustainable supply of this essential raw material long into the future and improve the livelihoods that depend on it. In 2012 we began to focus on Peru, where we have been procuring cotton for over 30 years. In partnership with our local supplier and CottonConnect, an organisation specialising in promoting sustainable cotton farming, we conducted in-depth research and subsequently introduced a three-year farmers’ training programme, encouraging and supporting Peruvian farmers to adopt more sustainable cotton farming practices. At the end of this three-year programme, farmers have reported a 14% increase in yields with lower environmental impacts, such as a 69% reduction in chemical pesticide use.

We became members of the Better Cotton Initiative in 2015 and started to procure cotton trough this initiative to support and drive global demand for sustainable cotton. The BCI works with over one million cotton farmers worldwide, helping them to minimise the use of harmful pesticides, reduce water consumption and care for soil and natural habitats, while promoting decent work for the farmers.

 

In 2015 we became members of the Better Cotton Initiative in 2015, starting to procure cotton trough this initiative to support and drive global demand for sustainable cotton. The BCI works with over one million cotton farmers worldwide, helping them to minimise the use of harmful pesticides, reduce water consumption and care for soil and natural habitats, while promoting decent work for the farmers.
In 2015 we became members of the Better Cotton Initiative in 2015, starting to procure cotton trough this initiative to support and drive global demand for sustainable cotton. The BCI works with over one million cotton farmers worldwide, helping them to minimise the use of harmful pesticides, reduce water consumption and care for soil and natural habitats, while promoting decent work for the farmers.
In 2015 we became members of the Better Cotton Initiative in 2015, starting to procure cotton trough this initiative to support and drive global demand for sustainable cotton. The BCI works with over one million cotton farmers worldwide, helping them to minimise the use of harmful pesticides, reduce water consumption and care for soil and natural habitats, while promoting decent work for the farmers.
In 2015 we became members of the Better Cotton Initiative in 2015, starting to procure cotton trough this initiative to support and drive global demand for sustainable cotton. The BCI works with over one million cotton farmers worldwide, helping them to minimise the use of harmful pesticides, reduce water consumption and care for soil and natural habitats, while promoting decent work for the farmers.
Cotton

 

Cashmere

Focus Areas

From our iconic scarves and knitwear to our distinctive outerwear, cashmere has been at the heart of our product offering for the past 130 years. Each spring this luxurious fibre is combed from the winter undercoat of goats that live in the vast plains of Central Asia. Warm, soft and lightweight, it takes the hair from one goat to make a single Burberry classic cashmere scarf. 

Climate change and increased global demand for cashmere are causing challenges for the fragile ecosystems of the Mongolian Steppe, a major production centre of global cashmere supply. Overgrazing by cashmere goats is depleting native grasslands, with cashmere farming linked to significant environmental challenges, including desertification and biodiversity loss. An additional challenge for the long-term viability of the cashmere industry is its ability to attract and retain the next generation of Mongolian cashmere herders and preserve existing herding skills and knowledge.   

Our commitments and activities

In 2015 Burberry became a founding partner of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), a UK-based NGO working with key stakeholders in Mongolia to restore grasslands, promote animal welfare and ensure a decent living for cashmere goat herders.

With input from several stakeholders, including animal welfare specialists and land management experts, the SFA has developed Animal Welfare and a Land Management Codes of Practice. The Codes have been piloted with herder communities in Mongolia during 2016/17, with the aim of creating a certified source of sustainable cashmere. Work is underway with communities on the ground to monitor vegetation cover, biomass, biodiversity, soil moisture and texture across 35 winter camps, and the possibility of remote sensing for continuous monitoring is being considered. The SFA also works to improve the livelihoods of herders and their families and has established a training programme to help young herders develop skills and knowledge in agricultural practices and goat husbandry. 

Cashmere

 

Leather

Focus Areas

From our classic signature handbags and wallets, to runway inspired seasonal updates of prints and colours, leather is an important raw material used across our accessories, apparel and shoes. 

The impacts of leather production can be significant and stretch right along its value chain, from methane emissions and conversion of natural ecosystems to pastureland to the chemicals, water and energy used in the processing and tanning of leather. With leather accessories accounting for more than 10% of our total greenhouse gas emissions, we are focused on working with our supply chain partners to mitigate the material’s impacts. 

Our commitments and activities

We fully support tannery certification as one of several vehicles that help drive more responsible leather production. We recognise certifications by the Leather Working Group (LWG), the Italian Istituto di Certificazione della Qualità per l'Industria Conciaria (ICEC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). As of March 2017, 77% (by square metre) of leather used in Burberry's accessories is sourced from tanneries holding one or more of these certifications.

In addition, we work closely with key tanneries to monitor their water, energy and chemical consumption, to validate the effectiveness of their waste water treatment processes and air emissions management and promote best practice.

Recognising the significance of impacts beyond tanneries, we trace hides to their country of origin and address issues based on risks by region. For example, in some countries cattle farming can raise significant concerns associated with deforestation and biodiversity loss and Burberry will not knowingly use leather from cattle raised in the Amazon Biome.

One important final step is to improve leather traceability and motivate action beyond country of origin all the way to slaughterhouse and farm level. We are working with our tanneries and the wider industry to achieve this level of visibility and to promote accountability for environmental impacts and animal welfare across the supply chain. 

Leather